If you own an off-road fabrication shop, you should probably have a well-built 4x4. For Scott Martin, owner of Dirty’s Garage in Hesperia, California, it had to be trail capable, the shop truck, and a daily driver. Finding that balance of modification, utility, and reliability was crucial.
While the bold patina and pinup wrap graphics grab the eye, it’s this 2007 Jeep Wrangler’s undercarriage that will keep your attention. A custom suspension was put together with a blend of parts that uniquely fit Scott’s needs for this rig. To begin with, the front and rear coilover shocks (12-inch Fox shocks with Eibach coils) were outboarded, requiring some custom mounts on the axles and modifications to the frame (Tribe 4x4 front coilover towers and VKS Fabrication rear coilover towers), and the frame was beefed up in places that would see the most stress. A Rock Krawler 3-inch long-arm system completes the triangle, and massive 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires wrapped around 17-inch Raceline Monster beadlocks make contact with the ground.
The V-6 still had a lot of miles left in it at the time this build began, so it was mildly upgraded with an S&B cold-air intake, Gibson shorty headers, and a DynoMax Ultra Flo 2.5-inch welded comp exhaust system that dumps before the rear axle. The 3.8L feeds the Jeep’s four-speed automatic transmission and NV241OR (Rubicon 4:1) transfer case. JE Reel custom driveshafts get power to the axles.
Up front you’ll find a ’79 Ford F350 Dana 60 kingpin-style front axle, and out back is an ’86 Chevy 2500 14-Bolt rear axle; both axles carry 5.38 gears. The front got a Yukon air locker, and the rear is filled with an ARB Air Locker. Builder parts from Artec helped immensely when Scott was fitting up the Dana 60 and GM 14-Bolt. JP5 Performance Engineering did the six-lug conversion, Artec High Steer arms turn Reid Racing knuckles, and Lugnut4x4 brakes and Yukon locking hubs round out the axle hardware. VKS Fabrication made up some custom tone rings for the axles.
Armor begins up front with a Poison Spyder Customs RockBrawler BFH bumper, stretches under and over with JcrOffroad skidplates and a custom rollcage with frame tie-ins, and a JcrOffroad rear bumper and tire carrier wrap around the rear. Scott’s JK was wearing its TrailMods set of bendable, foldable, ultra-narrow flares that day for the trail.
A Warn M8000 winch (converted to rope with a Factor 55 ProLink) sits on the front bumper. Forward lighting was augmented with J.W. Speaker replacement headlights, twin PIAA lights mounted on the fairlead bracket, two more PIAA lights on the A-pillars, and a pair of rock lights set into the underside of the front bumper. A Genesis Offroad dual battery setup packed with Odyssey batteries, sPOD electrical accessory switching system, and a York onboard air kit complete the underhood mods. Interior highlights include Bartact seat covers, speaker cans and amplifier from CrawlTunes, and a Line-X tub coating.
Much of this Jeep’s build seems ready to take a V-8, and that is definitely in the long-term plan. However, as much as he would have already liked to unleash a stampede of horsepower from under his 2007 Jeep JKU’s hood, Scott’s plan is to squeeze out every last mile the 3.8L V-6 has in it before considering an engine swap. We can’t wait to see the result!
Why This JeepScott went all the way on this build, while retaining the reliable, if not desirable, factory 3.8L V-6. He is intimately aware, as a shop owner and fabricator, of the hidden costs and additional changes to properly wedge in a V-8. We like that for the time being Scott chose to squeeze out every mile that the V-6 still has left in it, as he enjoys his Jeep that will climb just about anything he points it at.
Hard FactsVehicle: ’07 Jeep Wrangler JKU
Engine: 3.8L V-6
Transmission: 42RLE four-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NV241OR
Suspension: Rock Krawler 3-inch long arm, Fox/Eibach coilovers
Axles: Dana 60 kingpin front with Yukon air locker, GM 14-bolt rear with ARB Air Locker, Yukon 5.38 gears in both axles
Wheels: 17-inch Raceline Monster beadlocks
Tires: 40x15.50R17 Toyo Open Country M/T