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2007 Jeep JK Wrangler - Two-Door Rock Champ

Posted in Features on October 30, 2017
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From building and tuning bikes to getting in trouble for dismantling his Dad's remote-control car, Paul Penas realized at a young age that his passion for the automobile (of any kind) wasn't going away. His first car was a junker he could work on, but it wasn't long before he stepped up his game and started work on a Nissan 350Z that would eventually win multiple trophies, features in magazines, a track race, and even a spot in the Continental Tires booth at the SEMA show a few times.

As Paul got older, his love of driving translated into a career as a commercial big rig driver. He can't leave anything alone, so his big rig has been customized and is a trophy winner as well. Throughout all those years he developed a sense of outdoor adventure from years of camping as a kid, which eventually lead to the purchase of a Jeep.

Paul brought home a 2007 two-door JK Wrangler Rubicon. The Rubicon gave him a great base to build from. Over the course of four years, he took the slow and careful approach, eventually converting the "little" stock JK Rubicon into a coilover-sprung, armored beast that allows him and his wife to explore the world. They have wheeled in Johnson Valley, Big Bear, tackled the Rubicon Trail, bounced all over Moab, and explored many trails in the western United States.

Under the nose is a Dynatrac ProRock 44, loaded with the OEM selectable locker and a 5.13 ring-and-pinion from Motive Gear. Added to that: Reid Racing knuckles, EVO Draglink Flip Kit, and a PSC Motorsports hydraulic steering-assist ram system.

Why This Jeep

The off-road world is dominated by four-door JKs; so much so that a moderate but well-built two-door really stands out. Paul's rig is extremely capable and looks great. He's done a good job of making the best of the 3.8L V-6, and has created a build that works and looks good.

The long-arm front suspension system is from EVO and features 14-inch King coilovers alongside King triple bypass shocks with internal bumpstops.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: 2007 Jeep JK Wrangler
Engine: Jeep 3.8L V-6, Airaid air intake, RIPP Performance long-tube headers, high-flow catalytic converter, Flowmaster Resonator, Diablo Sport Tuner, Sprint Booster, and Odyssey Extreme Battery
Transmission: 42RLE Automatic Transmission
Transfer Case: Rock-Trac 4.0:1
Axles: Dynatrac Pro Rock 44, Reid high-steer knuckles, RCV axleshafts, OEM locker, 5.13 gear set from Motive Gear, and Dynatrac diff cover (front); OEM Dana 44, RCV axleshafts, OEM Locker, 5.13 gear set from Motive Gear, and Dynatrac diff cover (rear)
Wheels: 17-inch beadlocks from Spyderlock
Tires: 37xR17 Goodyear MT/R
Other: Custom-built J.E. Reel driveshafts with 1350 joints front and rear, Evap skidplates, oil pan, transmission and crossmember skidplates from EVO MFG and RockHard 4x4

The OEM rear Dana 44 lives happily under the back, loaded with the OEM selectable locker and matching 5.13 Motive Gears. For the suspension, Paul chose to run the EVO Double ThrowDown EVOLever system. The King coilovers and bypass shocks allow the Jeep's ride to be nimble, controlled, and smooth-all while not having a coilover hanging where it could get snagged by a rock. The suspension was stretched to 100 inches.
Practically the entire Jeep is covered in armor. The rear corners are customized EVO MFG Rockskins with flat fender flares that are 2 inches narrower than stock. The tub-mounted swing-away tire carrier allowed Paul to ditch the rear bumper entirely for an optimal rear departure angle.
Up front is an EVO Stubby front bumper, loaded with a Warn Powerplant winch and Rigid Dually LED lights. The factory front fenders were replaced with EVO flat fenders with matching 2-inch-narrower-than-stock flares.
To protect the body between the wheels, a set of EVO weld-on rock rails were installed. Even a short wheelbase can be susceptible to body damage between the tires.
Under the hood lives the original 3.8L V-6, but it has been upgraded to pump more power out. An Airaid intake system lets fresh air in, a Diablo Tuner tweaked the ECU program, and an Odyssey Extreme battery keep it juiced up.
A set of RIPP Performance long-tube headers were installed to get a little more power out of the early JK motor. Behind it is a high-flow catalytic converter and Flowmaster resonator.
Inside the Jeep, Paul opted for a set of MasterCraft Safety Baja R/S reclining seats. A full Rock Hard 4x4 rollcage was installed to protect occupants as well as provide mounting points for the CB radio and grab handles.
The factory rear seat was reupholstered to better match the front MasterCraft seats.
Paul's green beast allows him and his wife the ability to escape into the great outdoors. The uber-capable Jeep hits trails all over the western United States, and will continue to do so.
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