“Custom touches abound on Ken’s two-door JK”
Since the introduction of the four-door JK, you would think that Jeep had been doing it wrong all of these years building small, nimble CJs and Wranglers. Everyone seemed to instantly fall in love with the larger four-door model. It is true that the extra space is nice and they are quite capable, but two-door JKs aren’t exactly chopped liver. They are lighter than the four-door model with a superior breakover angle and better maneuverability. Ken Perotti has proven that you can even build a two-door JK and still bring the whole family with you.
Ken went to Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs in Reno, Nevada, and worked with Adam Benge and Joe Magliano to turn his dream into reality. Parts for two-door JKs are less common than the more popular four-door, so Joe built a custom suspension but used brackets from Artec, Ruff Stuff, and WFO Concepts rather than reinventing the wheel. Speaking of the wheel, OMF beadlock rims are wrapped in 40-inch Toyo rubber to crawl over just about anything in Ken’s path.
The stock axles would never live with 40-inch rubber, so Uncle Gerry Voivod built a custom set of Dana 60 axles for Ken’s JK. Gerry is a legend in Reno wheeling circles, part machinist and part mad scientist. Picture Doc Brown from Back to the Future, except with a Mohawk and tattoos. The front high-pinion Dana 60 is fairly standard, but Uncle Gerry got creative with the rear Dana 60HD axle. In order to retain the speedometer, ABS, and ESP on Ken’s JK, Gerry took a stock JK ABS tone ring and machined it to fit on the hub of the full-floating rear axle.
Custom touches like this abound on Ken’s Jeep, making it stand out in a sea of four-door JKs. Another example is the fuel tank. In order to package the double triangulated rear suspension, the factory fuel tank was scrapped and a GenRight Comp tank for a TJ was located behind the rear axle. The Comp tank allowed the wheelbase to be stretched to 104 inches, and Joe Magliano built a custom exhaust that tucks up next to the fuel tank and exits out the rear of the Jeep. We can’t help but think that if Jeep never built the four-door JK, no one would have minded after seeing a two-door like Ken’s.
The 3.8L V-6 engine doesn’t have the best reputation, but Ken Perotti’s hasn’t given him any issues. It breathes through a K&N intake and custom exhaust from Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs to work with the triangulated rear suspension.
The stubby Poison Spdyer front bumper maximizes approach angle by letting the tires reach obstacles, rather than the bumper hitting them. The bumper is topped with a Smittybilt XRC8 Comp winch wrapped in synthetic winch line. A Status Elite grille completes the front end.
Rolling stock consists of 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts wrapped around Eagle Alloy wheels that were converted to beadlocks by OMF. Ken got a good deal on the wheels, but the deep backspacing required wheel spacers to clear the suspension at full steering lock.
The front axle is a Dana 60 out of a 1979 Ford F-350. This is the axle everyone wants because in addition to using kingpin knuckles and having a high-pinion, it also has the differential more centered. This allows for a longer axletube on the short side of the housing, leaving room to weld on suspension bracketry.
The front Dana 60 was upgraded with G2 35-spline chromoly axleshafts and 5.38 gears behind the Ruff Stuff diff cover. The shafts are splined into an ARB Air Locker, and the stubs are sandwiched between Longfield 300M U-joints and Yukon Hardcore locking hubs.
Joe Magliano at Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs built the three-link front suspension using a truss from Artec on the axle and his own mounts at the frame end. The lower links were constructed by Branik from solid 2-inch aluminum, and the single upper uses 2x0.250-wall DOM, all with Ruff Stuff 1 1/4-inch rod ends.
The factory coil springs were ditched for Fox 14-inch travel, 2 1/2-inch diameter remote reservoir coilovers with 200/225–lb-in coil springs. Fox air bumps were also used on mounts that were frenched into the frame. The Currie AntiRock sway bar allows for more articulation while keeping the Jeep stable.
Steering consists of a full PSC JK kit with a modified box, hydraulic ram, and upgraded pump. The draglink connects to a WFO steering arm, and the custom tie rod sits above the knuckles, which were drilled out to accept the 3/4-inch Grade 8 bolts used with similar sized rod ends.
Ken’s daughters Madison and Morgan often ride in the back of the JK, so he couldn’t have moving parts sticking up through the tub. Joe made the sheetmetal covers that allow fitment of the rear coilover shocks and still keep the cab sealed up from the elements. Who says you need a four-door to bring the entire family?
From the factory the JK is a departure from previous Jeeps, placing the fuel tank on the side of the frame in front of the rear axle and the exhaust behind the axle. This makes it impossible to run a triangulated four-link rear suspension, so Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs retrofit a GenRight Comp tank for a TJ and built a custom exhaust for Ken’s Wrangler.
The rear suspension is a double triangulated four-link that uses WFO Concepts mounts at the frame end and an Artec truss on the axle. The lower links are 2-inch solid aluminum from Branik with 1 1/4-inch Ruff Stuff rod ends, and the uppers were made from 1 3/4x0.250-wall DOM with 7/8-inch rod ends.
The rear axle is an eight-lug Dana 60HD with disc brakes, 5.38 G2 gears, and an ARB Air Locker behind the Ruff Stuff differential cover. Starting with an HD model means that the spindles did not need to be bored to accept 1 1/2-inch, 35-spline, full-floating axleshafts.
The rear coilovers are Fox 14-inch-travel, 2-inch-diameter models with remote reservoirs and 225/200–lb-in coil springs. They work in conjunction with Fox air bumps and Nexgen Offroad limit straps.