In 2007, the four-door Wrangler Unlimited sent the Jeeping world into a frenzy. While purist were busy debating if Jeep had gone soft with the JK, Jeep dealers were selling two- and four-door versions as fast as the factory could make them. However, unnoticed by the mainstream in the storm of the Unlimited’s runaway success, was the fact that you could get a very modestly priced bare-bones two-door.
This Red Rock Crystal Pearl ’07 Wrangler was one of those nearly unnoticed two-door JKs. Purchased with basic roll-up doors, a proper manual transmission, and a soft top, it was an ideal platform for a no-frills wheeling machine. A decade and a few owners later, this Jeep has changed quite a bit. Now stretched and well built, Josh Whitcomb’s two-door JK defines the meaning of “unlimited.”
Working as the shop manager for Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Josh has seen his fair share of builds over the years. It was this knowledge that helped him transform this first-year JK into the machine it is today. To get a closer look at the setup, we caught up with the 1-ton–axled Jeep at our local proving grounds.
ChassisThe low-and-long formula for the two-door JK has been a proven one. However, accomplishing these goals on a 1-ton–axled Wrangler can have its challenges. For the front suspension, an EVO Manufacturing long-arm system was paired with a coilover tower from the company’s Double Throwdown line. Using the swept shock tower allowed Josh to incorporate a 12-inch-travel King 2.0 coilover, while keeping the overall lift height down.
In the back, you’ll find EVO long arms secured in the stock JK control-arm mounts on the chassis. This pushes the rear axle back 8 inches, making for a very stable 104-inch wheelbase. To ensure the Jeep would have plenty of suspension travel, a custom coilover tower was notched through the back of the tub. This tubular tower secures a set of 12-inch-travel 2.0 King coilovers.
To ensure the Jeep has proper road manners, a TeraFlex S/T sway bar is used upfront. It sits just under the custom Warn M8000 winch mount that doubles as a high-clearance front bumper. This custom chop was done to increase the approach angle and reduce any unnecessary bumper weight. Following that trend out back is a clean and simple EVO rear fascia, D-ring set, and tailgate plate mount.
DrivetrainPowering the Jeep is the original 3.8L V-6 engine. It gets a little breathing help thanks to a cold-air intake and Banks exhaust system, but is otherwise stock. Backing the V-6 is the original six-speed manual transmission. While the NVG 241 transfer case has a home there for now, a 241OR from a Rubicon is on the upgrade list. Driving the 1-ton differentials is a set of CV drivelines from Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts.
Up front, you’ll find a custom high-pinion Dana 60 that was built by East Coast Gear Supply. It uses the new high-clearance Ultimate Dana 60 differential housing with 3 1/2-inch, 1/2-inch-wall axletubes. The outer knuckles are from a Ford Super Duty and required the hubs to be machined for the Yukon axleshafts. Inside, you’ll find a Yukon Grizzly Locker paired with a set of 5.38 gears.
Out back, a GM 14-bolt was given the full Ballistic Fabrication shave treatment along with an Artec disc-brake conversion. Ensuring that both 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers are fighting for traction is a Yukon Grizzly Locker and 5.38 gearset. Since the front hubs were machined to an 8-on-6.5 bolt pattern, Josh is able to use off-the-shelf 17x9 KMC Machete Crawl beadlocks. Making sure the Jeep remains easy to maneuver on the trail is a custom steering setup using a hydraulic-assist kit from PSC Motorsports, along with offset rod ends from Barnes 4WD.
Body and InteriorAt first glance, the body of the Jeep might look pretty stock. This is thanks to the color-matched aluminum rear stretch corners and rocker guards from EVO. Subtle lighting upgrades such as the Truck-Lite LED headlights and 12-inch Rough Country lightbar, offer a mix of practical and trail illumination. To control any electronic accessories, the JK is fit with an MLC-6 switch panel from Rough Country.
Inside, the stock seats were replaced with Baja R/S units from Corbeau. To make cleaning up after wheeling outings a little easier, the OE carpet was pulled in favor of a BedTred floor liner kit. Despite the coilover tower poking through the rear floor, Josh can still use a rear seat so his kiddos can ride along too. To keep dust and fumes from rolling into the cabin, he created a custom cover that seals the tower.
Why This Jeep?It’s no secret that we’re fans of low lift and big tire setups that have yards of articulation. We especially like that this one does a great job at not sacrificing suspension travel in the name of being low. The balance of a no-frills interior with color-matched armor makes this a very tastefully executed JK that could easily double as a daily driver.
Hard FactsVehicle: ’07 Jeep Wrangler
Engine: 3.8L V-6
Transfer Case: NVG 241
Suspension: EVO Manufacturing long arm w/ 8-in rear stretch, 12-in-travel King coilovers, TeraFlex S/T sway bar
Axles: Dana 60 front, GM 14-bolt rear, Yukon Grizzly Lockers, 5.38 gears
Wheels: 17x9 KMC XD229 Machete Crawl beadlock
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grappler