Creating your own custom 4x4 is what this hobby is all about. We're not just talking about high-zoot tube buggies, but also the real-world creations that spawn from campfire discussions, high school dreams, and the old school of thought that goes: "It's paid for, it's here, so let's build it."
James Randolf's '03 Jeep Liberty is a great example of a build in progress. Culminating from a desire to build something a little different, his KJ project continues to develop as time and funds allow. With the Liberty used as both a daily driver and weekend off-roader, James has the daunting task of creating a unit-body wheeler that's trail tough and road tolerable. Though currently outfitted with a Dana 30 and 8.25 axles, a Dana 44 and a 9-inch axle combo swap are in the works.
Like many of us, James must balance work, college, and this 4x4 hobby we all love so much. For now James' plans are to continue to push his straight-axle Liberty over some of the toughest East Coast trails, and as the weak links slowly emerge the KJ build will continue.
2003 Jeep Liberty
Engine: 3.7L V-6
Transfer case: NP231, Advance Adapters SYE
Front Axle: High-pinion Dana 30, Eaton Truetrac, 4.56 gears
Rear Axle: 8.25-inch, 4.56 gears
Front: Custom straight-axle conversion from Cape Fear 4x4, 10-inch Fox shocks with 550 over 450 Eibach coils
Rear: 8-inch Jeepin' by Al springs, triangulated four-link
Tires & Wheels: 36x13.50 Iroks on 15x10 steel Eaton simulated beadlocks with 3 1/2 inches of backspacing
Steering: Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ steering gear box, Teraflex high-steer knuckle
Other Stuff: 1 1/4-inch wheel spacers, Smittybilt roof rack, K&N drop-in filter