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Jeep TJ Nth Degree Suspension - The Flaming Papaya

Drivers Side View
Ned Bacon | Writer
Posted October 1, 2007

The Melons At Nth Degree Cook Up A TJ That's No Fruitcake

By now, just about every 'wheeler has seen enough modified TJs to last them a lifetime. But ya gotta check this one out because it's way outside of the usual TJ box.

Sprung from the fertile melon of Jim Frens, owner and chief engineer of Nth Degree Mobility, the Flaming Papaya was built by Jim's employees in their spare time at Nth Degree's headquarters in Carson City, Nevada. Its main goal is to showcase many of the company's newest products, and also to test a bunch of new ideas that will appear from Nth Degree very soon.

The Papaya's in-your-face 2004 Audi Papaya Orange paint is the first thing to catch your eye. Then you notice the unusual front fenders that blend into the full body side armor. All these pieces are now available from Nth. Next, something seems odd about the wheelbase. Yep, it's been stretched in the rear 5 inches. This modification, complete with a custom gas tank, is also now available from the company. The hood looks different, too, because it's a fiberglass piece from AEV-modified, of course, with 3 inches shortened off each side. Then you notice the bumpers, the steering, the axles, the suspension, the engine and trans amn! Everything on this TJ has been "Nth'ized," and yet much of it looks like it came from the factory.

Perhaps that factory look comes from Frens' background as a Jeep engineer whose work with Chrysler included the original TJ design. Jim explains that, through the Papaya, he wanted to show just how far one could push the factory design using as many off-the-shelf Jeep parts as possible to build the ultimate TJ.

Check out the photos and the details in the captions to find out more about this TJ's fruitful ideas. And go to to find out which of these cool parts are now available for your TJ.

Stuffing 37-inch Goodyear MT/Rs and 17-inch Walker Evans bead-lock wheels into the Flaming Papaya's wheelwells is no problem, thanks to the huge wheelwells created by Nth's High Fenders. These heavy-duty tube and steel creations feature optional LED front- and side-running/turn signal lights. The fiberglass AEV High Hood goes well with these fenders, and blends into the Nth Cowl Guards, designed to protect the tender high-curved area just in front of the windshield. The rear wheelwells are defined by the Nth Corner Guards, which center the wheelwell 5 inches rearward to match the Nth long-arm 5-inch stretched rear suspension. Tying the two ends together are Nth's Smasher Basher rocker guards, which wrap under the body mounts and sport holes for optional LED rock lights. The front bumper is an Nth QuickWinch with optional grille hoop. The QuickWinch system allows you to easily mount the winch in a cradle in the front bumper or slide it into the standard 2-inch receiver in the custom, one-off rear bumper. Note the optional LED rock lights mounted into the ends of the bumper. The winch is a Warn HS9500i tugging a orange synthetic rope through a wide-mouth fairlead. Foglights are standard Jeep issue.

Suspension and underbody armor are Nth Degree's original claim to fame, and the Flaming Papaya doesn't cut any corners is these departments. The biggest news is the now-available 5-inch suspension stretch kit, but other cool new stuff can be seen here. Check out the Light Racing Jounce Shocks fitted inside Nth 6-inch-lift front coils. This is a kit developed jointly between the two companies and it allows the front coils to be fully captured at the top mount. Shocks are Bilstein 7100 reservoir units with custom Nth-tuned digressive tuning. The fronts feature 14 inches of travel while the rears offer 12. The Papaya can max a 30-degree RTI ramp and will lift one tire 46 inches off the ground before any others join it. Helping make such killer RTI numbers are the new Nth Quick-Silver II front sway-bar disconnect links. The Papaya's steering features prototype Nth high-steer knuckles and linkage, along with a prototype TracBar that fits to a production Nth track-bar brace.

The 5-inch-wheelbase stretch kit is truly a clever piece of engineering and, when installed, looks like the factory made the Jeep that way. The kit can be retrofitted to any existing Nth Degree long-arm kit. It features longer, lower control arms, a longer Stinger, upper spring relocator brackets, and a new aluminum gas tank. The rear axle on the Papaya is a standard TJ Dana 44 unit fitted with Yukon 5.13:1 gears and a Jeep Rubicon locking diff. The axles are chromoly Superior pieces and the brakes are TJ/Rubicon discs. The skidplate under the diff is part of the Nth Stinger torque-arm assembly. Other subtle but cool features are the Shock Shifter lower shock mounts, and the LED rock lights in the Smasher Basher rocker guards. The exhaust has been modified with a Flowmaster three-chamber muffler, a PaceSetter 6-2-1 header, and 2.5-inch tubing throughout.

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