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1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ - RockworX Part II

Posted in How To on September 15, 2006
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Photographers: Steve Ross

You won't recognize it! Craig, Will, and Steve at Rockworx have built the '94 YJ Wrangler into a world-beating Jeep. As you've already read in past issues, Dynatrac built Pro Rock 60 front and rearends with 5.13 Precision Gear gears and Detroit Lockers. Advance Adapters sent a brand-new GM Gen III 5.3 V8, an Atlas 3.8:1 Low range transfer case, a Rad-A-Kool aluminum radiator, and assorted parts and pieces so everything works. Also, the Toy Shop built a bulletproof 4L60E transmission for the YJ. Howell Engine Developments' OE-quality computer and harness control the engine and tranny.

Rockworx specializes in its own long-arm suspension designs. A three-link front and four-link rear with 12-way adjustable coilovers from Walker Evans Racing up front and coil springs with 12-way adjustable Walker Evans Racing shocks in the back make the Wrangler work great. The triangulated upper rear arms do away with the Panhard bar. Currie Anti-Rock sway bars front and rear allow adjustable control on and off the trail. The crossmember is designed so the flat skidplate can be removed for easy servicing without affecting the transfer case or transmission. Tom Wood's CV driveshafts front and rear get the horsepower to the diffs.

Warn rock sliders protect the rocker panels in the rocks and in parking lots where thoughtless people throw open their car doors. A Currie Rock Crawler shorty front bumper sits ahead of a Warn 9.5xp winch mounted on a Warn YJ winch mounting plate. With all the fancy bumpers with hoops and other protection available today, there's still something to be said for a lighter-weight, simple setup. A Currie Rock Crawler rear bumper with swing-away tire carrier was bolted up in back. Rockworx modified a 24-gallon, stainless Currie gas tank to work with the 98-inch wheelbase the Jeep now has and the Pro Rock 60 rearend. Craig estimates the tank holds about 22 gallons now.

Advance Adapters supplied the new GM Gen III 5.3L V8, Rad-A-Kool aluminum radiator with Spal fan, and pretty much everything else we needed to do the swap. Howell Engine Developments works with Advance Adapters and supplied the OE-quality wiring harness and computer. All sensors were utilized and everything works like it does from the factory in a GM truck or sport ute. Rockworx built the coilover mount bridge and mounted the reservoirs from the Walker Evans Racing coilovers there. An Optima YellowTop sealed gas recombinant battery was installed for reliable power.

Before we rescued it, the YJ had been sitting for a couple of years with no top, so the seating was pretty well gone as was the carpeting and other interior appointments. 4 Wheel Drive Hardware Super Sport Recliner seats and premium carpet kit really cleaned up the interior. We mounted the seats on driver- and passenger-seat brackets and sliders from Bestop. Bestop also supplied the rear seat cover that matches the rest of the interior. A Bestop Supertop keeps occupants dry and warm on cold, wet, winter days. During the summer, the top will be stored away for open-air off-roading.

It's tough integrating computer-controlled gauges in later-model Jeeps with an engine swap. We decided to replace the factory gauges with Ultra-Lite gauges from Auto Meter. The 3-3/8-inch tach and speedometer fit in the gutted factory position, and the 2-1/16-inch gauges fit in the factory dash holes by using a gauge bracket from Drivetrain Unlimited. The electronic speedometer can be easily programmed when tire size or gear ratios change. Advance Adapters also sent a Lokar cable shifter for the Wrangler. It's crisp and precise.

Throttle response is fabulous, not only due to the 5.3 V8, but also because of the Toy Shop 4L60E tranny. The Rockworx suspension design, coupled with the Walker Evans Racing shocks, exhibits no weird lifting or jacking of the Jeep when hanging it out off-road. The Wrangler climbs like a goat, also helped by the unbelievably sticky 37-inch BFGoodrich Red Label Krawler T/As. The five-inch-longer, 98-inch wheelbase helps greatly too. The steering is easy with the heavy-duty ram assist, pump, and steering gearbox from PSC.

Rockworx transformed this '94 Wrangler from an ugly duckling into a super-Jeep by taking superb parts and using their considerable know-how to put them all together. This project turned out better than we could have hoped! Check out the photos and see for yourself.

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Walker Evans Racing
Riverside, CA 92516
Howell Engine Developments
Marine City, MI 48039
4Wheel Drive Hardware
Santa Ana, CA 92705
PSC Motorsports
Azle, TX 76020
Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E.)
Delta, CO 81416
4WD Products
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Drivetrain Unlimited
Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts
OMF Performance Products
Advance Adapters Inc.
Toy Shop Transmissions
Pomona, Ca 91766
Bestop Inc.
Tuffy Products
Cortez, CO 81321
Montrose, CO
Reider Racing Inc
Taylor, MI
Eaton Corporation/Detroit Locker
Dynatrac Products Inc
Performance Muffler and Auto
Montrose, CO
Saunders Hydraulics Inc
Grand Junction, CO

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