This Supercharged 3.8L V-6 Jeep JK Is Not Your Mom’s MinivanPosted in Features on October 11, 2017
Carl and Becky Kaucky’s ’08 Jeep JK Wrangler is nicknamed “Rubican,” and if you know the Kauckys, then you get the meaning. We heard about it when they joined us for the inaugural Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep event in March 2016. The well-built and prepped Wrangler carries what some have derided as the “minivan” engine, and the JK is often a daily driver. It can carry the little ones, but it can also carry the Kaucky’s over the gnarliest boulders. It did both when the Rubican hauled Carl, Becky, their granddaughter in her child seat, and us across the Dishpan Springs Trail when we teamed up with them at the 2016 Big Bear Forest Fest.
The 3.8L V-6 under the engine hood is no longer that “98-pound weakling.” A Ripp Gen2 supercharger/intercooler package and Superchips tuner have given it plenty of muscle for the road and rocks. Inhabiting the engine compartment as well are an Optima YellowTop battery and the sPOD relay box that controls the dual ARB compressors (one under the hood and a second under the front passenger seat with a 2-gallon tank) and all the auxiliary lighting on the Jeep.
Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts carry the power down to the front and rear 5.38 Yukon-gear–equipped Torq 14 axles. The rearend carries an ARB air locker and RCV 2-inch, 40-spline 4340 chromoly ’shafts. The frontend is augmented with a Yukon Grizzly locker, Yukon locking hubs, RCV 1 1/2-inch, 35-spline 4340 chromoly ’shafts, and Reid Super Cs. Brakes on both axles are discs from a ’73 K20. An Artec high steer setup with a 1 1/2-inch drag link and tie rod are worked by a PSC hydraulic steering system.
At the ends of both axles are a set of 17x10-inch B.A.D beadlocks (with 3 1/2 inches of backspacing) and massive 40x13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T tires. A custom-built 4-link system front and rear incorporating Fox coilover remote reservoir shocks and TeraFlex hydraulic bump stops allow for some amazing axle articulation, and SwayLoc air-actuated dual-rate anti-sway bars front and rear can lock up for street use or unlock for trails with the flip of a switch inside the cab.
Body mods are as numerous as those of the suspension. The nose of the JK is adorned with an ORF bumper and stinger-style brush guard. It holds a Warn 9.0Rc 9,000-pound capacity winch spooled with synthetic rope. The bumper was fit with a quick-release air chuck. A Body Armor bumper with integrated spare tire carrier is perched on the rear of the Jeep, and the carrier incorporates mounts for two 5-gallon gas cans and a Hi-Lift jack. Metal Cloak front and rear fenders stay out of the way of the big meats; Metal Cloak rock sliders do their job very well; and a set of Bushwacker tube doors were painted to match the body.
A full cage from River Raider protects precious passengers and acts as a mounting structure for an ORS fire extinguisher, Cobra CB, interior lights, and plenty of grab handles. JW Speaker replacement headlights, a 52-inch Rigid LED lightbar on the windshield brow, two 3-inch LED light cubes at the bottom corners of the windshield, rock lights in the wheelwells, five forward-facing LED rock lights on the front bumper, and a 14-inch LED lightbar on the rear bumper smother the landscape surrounding the JK with brilliance.
The Good, Bad, and What It’s For
As we previously mentioned, this ’08 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited is equipped with the 3.8L V-6, which many enthusiasts consider less than desirable, but the Kauckys have made it into a more-than-capable powerplant and had no issues with it. Regardless of that engine’s reputation (deserved or not), this rig an extremely stout and trail-worthy vehicle that we thoroughly enjoyed on one of the more challenging trails in the Big Bear area.
Why I Wrote This Feature
As much of the enjoyment of four-wheeling is the people you’re with as it is the vehicle you’re in. There was never a moment—on the road or the trail—when the Kaucky’s ’08 Jeep JK Wrangler experienced so much as a hiccup. As a matter of fact, it carried itself over tarmac and terrain with power and grace and always kept its occupants comfortable. Carl and Becky were a lot of fun to hang out with too. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Vehicle: ’08 Jeep JK Wrangler “Rubican”
Engine: Jeep 3.8L V-6 with Ripp supercharger
Transmission: NSG 370 six-speed manual
Transfer Case: Rock-Trac 4.0:1
Axles: Torq 14, 5.38 Yukon Grizzly locker (front); Torq 14, 5.38 ARB Air Locker (rear)
Suspension: Custom four-link front and rear, Fox coilovers with remote reservoirs, TeraFlex hydraulic bumpstops
Wheels: 17x10-inch B.A.D. beadlocks
Tires: 40x13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T