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JKC-1 Synergy MFG’s JK Commando

Posted in Features on July 11, 2018
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JKC-1 is not just another pretty face roped off on the showroom floor with “Do Not Touch” signs protecting it. Dave Schlossberg of Synergy Manufacturing wanted something that would catch the eye of every Jeep enthusiast to showcase some of the parts his company makes. Six months and 2,000+ work hours later he had an award-winning rolling display that turns heads both on and off the trail.

Our first introduction to the JKC-1 was during the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It was obviously making quite a statement, as we had to walk through a crowd gathered around it to get a close look. The sexy vintage body paired with modern JK Wrangler drivetrain, a beefed-up V-8, and the subtle addition of upgraded bumpers front and rear makes this Jeep truly pleasing to the eye. You can see that it was a labor of love for co-builders Dustin Boyack and Kevin Burk; their attention to detail was evident in every component of JKC-1. However, we wanted to see it in action.

Synergy—the interaction or cooperation of two or more entities to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. That’s what happened when Dave Schlossberg’s team combined a 1971 Jeepster Commando and a 2017 Jeep Wrangler JKU.

We met up with Dave and the crew from Synergy Manufacturing on the Rubicon Trail to see how the JKC-1 performed off-road. The Jeepster dominated the trail with ease and grace. By trimming 15-inches off the donor frame, the new 101-inch wheelbase allowed for maneuverability in tight places and offered just enough length for comfortable passage on steep trail ascents and descents. The modified Synergy Stage 3 lift kit offers 12 to 15-inches of wheel travel, so flexing through the rocky terrain is a breeze.

Why This Jeep?

Every inch of this build is pure perfection; the clean lines and attention to detail speak to the dedication of the team and the amount of time invested in development of the JKC-1. From the suspension to the exterior and interior, it carries the theme of modern performance, convenience and comfort, yet the old school flair is still present. Well done!

The modified Synergy Stage 3 lift kit with 2-inch coil springs in the front and 1-inch springs in the rear allows 12 to 15 inches of wheel travel, so cruising through the rocks is easy. A custom stubby front bumper houses the Warn Zeon 8-S winch and extra lighting by Baja Designs.
A 2002 GMC Denali donated the 6.0L LQ4 V-8, a Tooley Racing cam was installed, and heads from Texas Speed and Performance and an HP tuner were added. A beefy 377 horsepower was measured on the dyno. The powerplant is backed by a 4L80-E four-speed automatic transmission built by Gearstar and an Atlas II transfer case with a 3.8:1 low-range ratio. A Be Cool radiator and the custom-made cold-air intake system finish off the sleek design of the engine compartment.
The factory Jeep Rubicon Dana 44 front axle with 4.10 gears and factory e-locker has been reinforced with RCV axleshafts and the Synergy axle truss kit. Synergy high steer drag link and tie rod, Fox steering stabilizer, and a power steering cooler and pump from PSC Motorsports tie in to the stock Jeep JK steering box.
Beefed up with RCV ’shafts the Jeep Rubicon Dana 44 rear axle retains the factory e-locker and 4.10 gears. The Synergy track bar/track bar mounts and axle truss kit have been added, and there are Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks and Powerstop brakes on all four wheels.
When describing the dash of the JKC-1 Commando, one word comes to mind: elegance. The clean, neat appearance is reminiscent of a bygone era. The dash has simple gauges by Autometer, an Alpine audio system, and a small switch panel located to the left of the Grant steering wheel that allows the driver easy access to engage the lockers, air compressor, and external lighting.
The JKC-1 is a two-seater, leaving plenty of room in the back for camping equipment and your lunch cooler. The bed is Mar-K oak with stainless trim. A custom hoop rollbar was fabbed from 2-inch 0.120-wall DOM tubing. The stock seats were reupholstered in black leather by San Luis Auto Interiors.
The team had to do some serious sheetmetal work to the floorpan and firewall to shoehorn the 6.0L in to the engine compartment. Modifications were also done to the rear wheelwells; these were sectioned up and out to clear the 35s. Custom exhaust outlets were placed on both rocker panels just in front of the rear wheelwells.
Paying homage to its modern-day donor JK, Dave chose to dress out the JKC-1 in FCA Fire Cracker Red with a basic black graphics package. Reflections show that life truly is better off-road.
Keeping with that retro vibe the guys chose 17x8 Wheel Vintiques Smoothie wheels. Wrapped around these are a set of 35x12.50/17 Nitto Ridge Grappler tires.
Dave Schlossberg of Synergy Manufacturing wanted something that would catch the eye of every Jeep enthusiast, an off-road rolling display to showcase some of the parts his company makes. Their build won top honors in The Life is Better Off-Road competition, and a Top 10 placement in SEMA Battle of the Builders 2017.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: 1971 Jeepster Commando body on a modified 2017 JKU frame (101-inch wheelbase)
Engine: 6.0L LQ4 V-8 (mildly built)
Transmission: 4L80E by Gearstar Performance
Transfer Case: Advanced Adapters Atlas (low-range ratio 3.8:1)
Suspension: Synergy Stage 3 2-inch suspension system; Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks; Synergy high steer drag link and tie rod; cooler and steering pump from PSC Motorsports; Synergy track bar/track bar mounts front and rear; Synergy Heavy Duty Skid Plate System
Axles: Factory Jeep Rubicon Dana 44, 4.10 gears; factory lockers; RCV axles with Synergy MFG axle truss kit front and rear
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50/17 Nitto Ridge Grappler on 17x8 Wheel Vintiques Smoothies

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