Last month we outlined a bunch of $3,000 buildups for ’97-’06 Wrangler TJs (3-Day TJ for $3K) and promised to follow up with similar treatments for JK and YJ Wranglers, XJ Cherokees, and maybe even CJs. We cover only bolt-on parts and modifications you could do yourself at home in three days or less. Well, we’re making good on our promise—although we kinda cheated a little here by using a ’07 Rubicon with factory 4.10 gears and lockers front and rear. We’ll include some other options for non-Rubicon owners just to keep things fair.
It’s so easy to put 35s on a JK Wrangler it’s stupid. On the two-door JK, 35s will let you hit most moderately hard trails in the country. The short-wheelbase lets you snake and glide over and through some surprisingly rough terrain. For the longer four-door Unlimited, the breakover angle even with 35s can still easily get you hung up so you’ll have to pick your lines a bit more carefully. However, 35s really fill up the wheelwells and look more proportional on the ’07-up Wrangler Unlimited.
As for our modifications, finding parts that offer great performance on a realistic budget is more difficult than you’d think. Every product we chose delivers on more than one level. The TeraFlex suspension is affordable, installed without major drama, incorporates features like coil retention and proper bumpstop spacing, and doesn’t alter the factory ride or handling. The company’s aluminum RockGuard Slider Steps provide enough strength and protection for any weekend warrior without paying a fuel or handling penalty the other five days of the week. The Smittybilt front bumper is inexpensive, frees up the approach angle to the front tires, and is strong enough to brush off repeated rock contact. The Spidertrax wheel spacers are durable, reliable, well-built, and affordable.
The AEV ProCal Module makes it easy to center the steering wheel, correct the speedo for bigger tires or different gears, and allows turning off or on many factory diagnostic and special features. And finally, the Goodyear Duratrac tires are strong, light, and blur the lines between on-road AT civility and off-road MT performance. The result is a Wrangler that can tackle any moderately hard trail we want to throw it on, yet still has the manners to drive cross-country in comfort.