Junior has had a fairly full life. It started out as a stock test vehicle for Four Wheeler’s former editor, John Cappa. Junior was daily driven, wheeled, broken, and repaired for several years under Cappa’s care. Its early life (“Ready To Run, Part 1,” June ’07) was pretty mundane. At approximately 7,000 miles, the fun began (“Ready To Run, Part 2,” Apr. ’08). Unfortunately, the inexpensive spacer lift that was put on Junior to account for the heavy steel bumpers just wasn’t enough. The stock suspension can only do so much after all. This was later addressed by the installation of better suspension (“55KJK,” Nov. ’09), but the damage had still been done.
When Editor Trasborg acquired Junior, it had a long list of problems. After having been driven by Cappa and then rotated through several other staff members, Junior had a mish-mash of suspension parts, a blown transmission, what was thought to be a bent axle, and several gremlins playing hide-and-seek somewhere in the electrical system. While it turned out that the axle wasn’t bent, a trip to Off Road Evolution did get the suspension fixed up, arguably the most straightforward item on Trasborg’s list (“Junkyard JK,” Oct. ’14 and “Whipped Differentials,” Oct. ’14).
The 3.8L V-6 engine under the hood of the early JKs has never been known as a powerhouse. In fact, it’s been known as a bit of a turd. Once he got tired of dealing with the big 37-inch tires and the anemic 3.8L engine with its serious oil consumption issues, Trasborg decided that some engine work was in order. In “JK Bumping” (Nov. ’14), he gave the details of the 4.1L stroker that was built by 505 Performance. The difference between the 4.1L stroker and the factory 3.8L is so great it’s almost hard to believe. Running on 37-inch tires and a factory 4.10 gear-ratio, Junior accelerates as well as, if not slightly better, then our ’11 JK with the factory 3.8L and the same 4.10 gear ratio, on stock size tires. It can also hold its speed up all but the steepest hills just as well as our ’11 JK.
Good, Bad, and What It’s For
Junior is pretty awesome. The 4.1L engine has no problems turning the 37-inch tires at speeds that can only be described as frightening. The Off Road Evolution suspension handles amazingly well. There’s not much that Junior can’t conquer, on- or off-road. Losing over 900 pounds by ditching the hardtop, spare tire, and swapping the steel armor for aluminum armor certainly helped performance as well. The biggest problem Junior has is the previously mentioned electrical gremlins. Headlights that flash, a dash cluster that turns on and off—those gremlins must be having one heck of a party in the electrical system because the problems just keep multiplying. Someone fed them after midnight. A few flashing lights aren’t going to stop us from loving Junior though. He was built to go fast and still be able to crawl over the rough stuff. Trust us on this one: Junior does it all with ease.