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2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Trail Machine

Posted in Features on July 20, 2016
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When it comes to building a vehicle, years of experience has taught us you have to go in with a game plan. Failure to plan out your build in advance is a surefire way to end up with more work and money spent. Justin Griggs’ ’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is an excellent example of executing a well-laid plan. Justin knew exactly how he wanted to build his LJ, and he went all-in over three months’ time and did just that.

While he’s actually a full-time dealership technician on a certain type of British 4x4 that we won’t mention here, his passion for wheeling and Jeeps drew him to the long-wheelbase Wrangler platform. Since he wanted something capable of hardcore trails and taking his family to the beach, the Unlimited platform made the most sense. To get the Jeep where it is today, Justin did as much of the work as he could at his home garage and left the rest to the capable hands at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

As is the case with all new builds, there is always a little fine tuning to be done. For now, Justin plans to continue enjoying the Wrangler on the trail and wherever his adventures may take him.

Under the hood, you’ll find the stock 4.0L inline-six ’plant. Since the Jeep runs a high-line fender kit, the battery, along with a host of other small engine compartment components, were relocated. Aside from a cold-air intake, the trusty six-cylinder remains largely as it came.

Protecting the occupants is a custom cage setup that mixes a Poison Spyder Customs front ‘cage kit with 1 3/4-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing. Trek Armor seat covers keep the factory buckets out of the elements, while a Line-X spray-in floor liner allows Justin to easily spray out the inside of the Jeep.

Up front, a high-pinion Dana 60 front axle was trussed and swapped in. Inside of the kingpin 1-ton differential you’ll find an ARB Air Locker, which spins Yukon chromoly axleshafts. To make steering duties easier on-road and off, a custom high-steer setup was fabricated and paired with a hydro-assist steering kit from PSC Motorsports.

Justin says that he’d like to lower the Jeep around 3 inches. To achieve the lower center of gravity, his next modification will be to install new towers for his Rock Krawler coilovers. While he’s happy with the performance of the current setup, he would like a little more uptravel and an overall lower stance.

Justin says that he’d like to lower the Jeep around 3 inches. To achieve the lower center of gravity, his next modification will be to install new towers for his Rock Krawler coilovers. While he’s happy with the performance of the current setup, he would like a little more uptravel and an overall lower stance.

To accommodate the longer wheelbase, as well as provide body protection on the trail, Poison Spyder Customs corner guards and tailgate conversion was installed. The 3/16-inch steel rocker guards and body protection have a mix of paint and powdercoat to keep the metal from rusting away in the humid Southeast air.

Going with 1-ton axles meant Justin needed a sizable tire. This was no trouble as 40x13.50R17 Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs provided a generous footprint and ground clearance. To make sure he can lower the tires pressure to the single-digit range where they need to be off-road, Justin opted for a set of 17x9 Method beadlocks.

To increase the approach angle and provide a sound recovery point, a Poison Spyder front bumper was bolted on. It holds a Smittybilt 8,000-pound winch, which we are told is getting ready to be replaced by a slightly larger and faster setup.

There’s no question that Justin’s LJ works great. The wheelbase, track width, and tire size make it extremely stable, while the 4:1 transfer case offers plenty of torque multiplication to get the job done off-road.

At A Glance
General
Vehicle: ’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Owner: Justin Griggs
Stomping grounds: Wilmington, North Carolina
Build Time: 3 months
Drivetrain
Engine: 4.0L I-6
Transmission: 42 RLE
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Low range ratio: 4:1
Crawl ratio: 62.64:1
Front axle/differential: High-pinion Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, Warn hubs, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker Rear axle/differential: GM 14-bolt, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker
Suspension
Front: Rock Krawler three-link w/coilovers, Currie Antirock sway bar
Rear: Rock Krawler four-link w/Rubicon Express 5 1/2-in coils, Currie Antirock sway bar
Steering: Custom high steer w/PSC Motorsports hydro-assist
Tires/Wheels
Tires: 17x9 Method beadlock
Wheels: 40x13.50R17 Goodyear MT/R
Miscellaneous
Armor: Poison Spyder Customs bumpers, rocker guards, corner armor and tailgate
Cool Stuff: Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts ’shafts, custom cage, Smittybilt winch, Rigid Industries headlights and auxiliary LED lights

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