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Jeep-build In The Making

Posted in Features on January 31, 2017
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When building a Jeep, it is easy to jump in headfirst and lose your mind over all the possibilities. There are countless Jeep builds that seem to have been done with an unlimited budget and with all the greatest equipment, straight out of the gate. Kyle Pharis and his dad David, are just out of the chocks with Kyle’s 2005 Jeep TJ Wrangler, but are on a budget, doing one thing at a time when it’s affordable, and are doing it exactly the way they want it.

Not all builds can or should be full-tilt right off the bat. The best way to learn the ways of the Jeep-build are to work at your own pace, as the budget allows, and put in the dirty work yourself. Kyle is doing just that. He has always wanted to build his own Jeep and not that long ago, he got the chance to get it going.

Not every Jeep needs to be built like crazy when first starting out. Pharis and family are building the Jeep on their own and learning as they go.

They started with a bone-stock silver TJ. Kyle named it Amphibian because to him, Jeeps are built to go anywhere and are always in their element, no matter where you are. Just like an amphibious animal. Kyle’s constant co-pilot, Bob the rubber duck, is a constant reminder of that. The Jeep was painted OEM Crush Orange so it stands out and grabs attention¬–something that it certainly does well.

Amphibian features a host of carefully chosen upgrades. A Rough Country 2.5-inch suspension lift made room for the 285/70R17 Nitto Tera Grapplers wrapped around 17-inch Pro Comp wheels. Smittybilt XRC bumpers protect the front and rear of the rig, a Smittybilt X2O winch is nestled into the front bumper just in case, and plenty of lighting is on hand to keep a clear view during night travels.

Amphibian features lots of good parts to make the Jeep even more capable than it already was. Each upgrade was carefully chosen.

The Pharis family has been enjoying the Jeep all around Southern California, and Kyle intends to continue his build process. Someday, he plans on King coilovers, a Poison Spyder cage, and possibly a 4BT Cummins engine swap. We all have to start somewhere. Kyle and his family are off to an amazing start with a clean and reliable Jeep. What would you do if you were just starting a TJ build?

Good, Bad, and What It’s For

A Jeep TJ is just a plain darn good place to start. It was the first of the modern all-coil Wranglers, and Kyle’s has the venerable 4.0L inline-six engine—hard to go wrong with that. Kyle has a long way to go with this build, but he’s taking it one step at a time, and for now, enjoying day runs on moderate trails.

Why I Wrote This Feature

Although it’s not built-up much yet (especially considering the rigs you normally see here), it did very well for itself the day we joined Kyle for this photo shoot. We so often feature full-tilt machines that it is was nice to cruise something this clean and enjoyable to drive in the infancy of its build cycle.

The Dana 30 under the front of the Jeep is the weak point. With the Jeep running 33-inch tires though, it should last until Pharis is ready to upgrade.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: 2005 Jeep TJ Wrangler
Engine: 4.0L inline-six
Transmission: 42RLE automatic
Transfer Case: NP231
Axles: Dana 30 Front / Dana 44 Rear
Suspension: Rough Country 2.5-inch lift
Wheels: Pro Comp 17x8
Tires: Nitto Terra Grappler 285/70R17

The new California black and gold plate blends in well with the Smittybilt XRC bumper and X2O waterproof winch.
Rough Country lights provide the needed illumination for night wheeling and camping trips. The necessary Hi-Lift Jack is bolted to the hood to keep the limited cargo space available for other gear.
For the many door-less California days, Pharis opted for a set of mirrors from Quadratec.
Spare tire and American Flag carrying duty is handled by a Smittybilt XRC Rear Bumper.
Under the hood, the Jeep rocks the classic 4.0L straight-six engine. The powerplant has been left stock for reliability now, but it could possibly get swapped for a diesel plant down the road.
Under the back end of the Jeep, a stock Dana 44 quietly waits for a host of upgrades on the Pharis to-do List.
To protect the rockers of the Jeep, a set of Smittybilt XRC sidebars were bolted in
Bob, the rubber duck, is ready for any adventure on the horizon.
For a build that is just starting out, the Amphibian is well on its way to great things.
The Pro Comp wheels were custom accented to match the bold statement of the OEM Crush Orange paint.
Kyle Pharis is excited about learning the ways of the Jeep life and where he and his Jeep will go next.
PhotosView Slideshow

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