This JK Looks Stock, But it’s Not
We’ve been covering the building of Sleeper, our 2011 JK Rubicon two-door, in the last four issues. After the success of Project Trailrunner, we knew that we could build a 2011 JK that retained a mild look and had better-than-factory performance, on- and off-road.
Large, bulbous, and heavy JK bumpers aren’t bad if that’s what you like — and evidently, many people like them — because most JK bumpers are big. We like smaller bumpers on our vehicles.
Expedition One offers its Basic DX front bumper that’s pretty much a stylized winch mount. We ordered a Basic DX along with detachable OE foglight wings. In keeping with our sleeper theme, we wanted a winch that sat between the frame rails, so we ordered a red Warn 9.0Rc rock-crawl winch. Before installing it, we powdercoated it black for aesthetic reasons. The Basic DX and Warn 9.0Rc make a lightweight combination. We also installed the Expedition One Rubi Skid swaybar skidplate under the bumper. It not only protects the Rubicon Smart Bar motor, it cleans up that area, getting rid of the hideous OE plastic chin spoiler and its corresponding wimpy stamped frame crossmember.
Poly Performance developed its Synergy Long Arm Suspension System for the JK Wrangler, and it’s a winner. Completely bolt-on, the geometry is perfect as are coil rates. “Bolt-on” isn’t as easy as it sounds, as the stock frame bracketry has to be cut off and holes drilled in the frame. The effort is worth it, as the Synergy suspension is amazing. Arms are adjustable on the vehicle, a major boon when adjusting driveline angles and arm lengths. Track bars are adjustable the same way. It’s easy to dial in the Synergy suspension. Poly Performance offers Fox Racing shocks, so we went with new Fox 2.0 Factory Performance Series Shocks, aluminum reservoir shocks that are affordable and are valved perfectly for the JK.
We plan to install a PSC ram assist, but have only installed the PSC steering gearbox so far. We installed the Currie Currectlync JK tie rod and drag link that are beefier than their Dana 60 counterparts and have reversible, rebuildable ends.
It’s not news that the JK frontend is weak. Instead of beefing up the factory’s mistake, we went with Dynatrac’s ProRock 44 with heavy tubes. Motive 5.13 JK Rubicon 44 gears installed easily in the Dynatrac pumpkin. Ten Factory hardened front axles are strong and use the large OE JK Spicer joints. Dynatrac’s reliable ProSteer ball joints replace the worthless OE ball joints and are rebuildable.
The 37x12.50R17LT Pro Comp Mud-Terrain three-ply tires are mounted on 17x8 Black Rock Intruder wheels. The Intruders are reasonably priced wheels that don’t look like everyone else’s designs. Pro Comp Mud-Terrain three-ply tires work well in the backcountry.
Inside, we installed a Cobra 75 WXST CB that stores in the center console when not in use. Cool Tech LLC supplied the radio, as well as antenna mounting bracket and coax. HotHead headliners insulate the top and make an enormous difference. Excellent 4WD Hardware slush mats protect the carpet. Not much else needs to be done in the new, comfortable 2011 interior. We also ordered 4WD Hardware flat panel flares so the tires would clear with our 3-inch Synergy coils. It turned out we were able to trim the stock inner rear fender liners a bit and the 37s cleared the OE flares. We left the OE flares on the Jeep for now.
John Williams of Impulse Off-Road contributed his JK expertise and made Sleeper what it is. We agree with others who’ve driven Sleeper that it’s the best handling Jeep, on- and off-road, we’ve ever built. The fact that it gets very little respect from other off-roaders when they first see it makes it even better. We like our 4x4 projects to be surprising. When checking out other people’s 4x4s, remember the old maxim, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Or, in this case, a JK that looks stock, but is not.
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