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2009 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited: Flyin' Four-Door

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2011
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Firefighter Chris Maddox has driven Jeeps all his life and is a self-avowed “Jeep fanatic.” Over the years he has owned a slew of models including CJs, YJs, and TJs. His current ride is this striking 2009 JK Unlimited.

Like many of us, Maddox relates how he has often built a Jeep and then a few weeks later wanted to go bigger and more extreme. “That added up to a lot of money, changing driveshafts, tires, etc,” he notes. “I know I’m not the only one that has gone from 31s to 33s to 35s to 37s, short arm to long arm, etc,” Maddox adds with a laugh. He tried to alleviate some of that this time around by formulating a detailed plan. The goal was to create a rig that was hardcore for the weekends, but also at home taking his wife and kids for a long drive or to a show. “Although I try to keep my Jeep nice, it is not a trailer queen. I’m truly an addict,” he emphasizes.

Maddox says that now that he has a family the four-door Unlimited was the “only logical choice.” He decided to start with an “X” model because his plan was to change most everything anyway. Normally, he says he does his own wrenching, but with two small boys and a busy career it wasn’t an option this time around, so he took his plan to the team at Hauk Designs, the parent company of River Raider Off Road in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Hauk Designs owner Kenny Hauk says, “When Chris came to us with his Jeep we sat down and formulated a complete game plan as to the design as a whole. We made sure that all the elements and parts chosen would work well together and compliment the look. He didn’t want a Jeep that looked like a parts catalog threw up on it.”

Another unique aspect of the JK is the custom work at the rear of the rig. It features plug-welded and seam-sealed River Raider Crusher Corners with flush-mount Off Road Only LiteDOT LED taillights. The factory tailgate was completely reworked by Hauk Design’s Clint Wolabaugh. He removed the factory handle and replaced it with an electric release and he converted the tailgate to a flip-down design. In a further nod to Jeep history, he grafted a CJ tailgate with embossed Jeep logo into the tailgate.

What does Maddox have to say about his Jeep? “It may look extreme, but it rides like a dream on the highway and I can still take it on most trails and then drive it back home, to work, or even a local show. It’s really the best of both worlds. There’s nothing like seeing my 18 month-old smile when he gets to go for a ride. I think he has already caught the Jeep bug.”

Never Done
We can probably all relate to the fact that a project rig is never done. As we were writing this story, Maddox informed us that his rig has entered another stage of modifications, which include installation of a TeraFlex CRD60R rear axle, TeraFlex CRD60 front axle, full River Raider skidplating, and PSC hydraulic-assist steering.

Owner/Hometown: Chris and Britney Maddox/Middletown, Maryland
Vehicle/Model: 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Estimated value: $100,000+

Type: Chrysler 6.1L Hemi V-8
Aspiration: Fuel injection, Arrington heads, camshaft, and pushrods, custom exhaust with Magnaflow muffler
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 500/490

Transmission: 545RFE
Transfer Case: Rock-Trac NV241, 4:1

Front: TeraFlex long-arms, King 2.5 piggyback-reservoir coilovers, King 2.0 bumpstops, Off Road Evolution EVO HD SwayBar EndLinks
Rear: TeraFlex long-arms and 4-inch-lift coil springs, King 2.0 piggyback-reservoir shocks, King 2.0 bumpstops
Front: Rubicon Dana 44, sleeved and gusseted, Superior chromoly axleshafts, River Raider diff cover, Warn Premium hubs/factory electric locker
Rear: Rubicon Dana 44, Superior chromoly axleshafts, River Raider diff cover/factory electric locker
Ring and pinion: 4.10:1

Wheels: 20x10 Raceline Monster aluminum beadlocks
Tires: 40x15.50-20 Toyo Open Country M/T

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