Build Your Own: FJ Versus JK
We picked the winner of our FJ and JK shootout (page 26), but there's more! One of the most important parts of our magazine and to our sport of four-wheeling is modifying your 4x4.So why not take a quick look at the options of upgrades for your FJ Cruiser or Jeep JK Wrangler?
To showcase what is available we approached two companies known for their Jeep and Toyota upgrade components, Poison Spyder Customs and All-Pro Off-Road. These companies are run by good friends who are actually wheelers, and as such they were more than willing to come out and get their favorite trucks dirty.
Both of these trucks run 35-inch tires. This is what we would call the first-stage buildup for an FJ Cruiser or Jeep Wrangler owner looking to hit the trail.
The FJ has a 3-inch Walker Evans suspension lift to clear 35-inch tires. The front and rear bumpers are from All-Pro Off-Road, as is a full set of skidplates underneath. The front bumper houses a Warn 9500 winch, while the engine is fed in through a cold-air intake and out through a set of headers. Other accessories include rock sliders, rear jerry can holders, and roof-mounted light bar and shovel racks. To stand out from other FJs, this truck has had the signature white roof covered in a faux carbon fiber wrap. The front axle was upgraded with a selectable ARB Air Locker to aid the rear factory locker in traction.
The silver Jeep JK Wrangler also clears 35-inch tall tires with an Outlaw Off Road Alpha-1 suspension that uses King 2-inch coilover shocks front and rear, Terra Flex long arms and steering, and Currie AntiRock sway bars. Protection is done with Poison Spyder bumpers, rock sliders, and body panel armor. River Rider makes the tube fenders and skidplates. Other upgrades include axle gussets, trusses, and skids to help prevent the housing from bending; 5.38 gears; Poison Spyder differential covers; a Banks ram-air intake and Monster exhaust; and the AEV ProCal to help calibrate the computer system with the larger tires. Up front is a Warn powerplant with synthetic winch rope for recovery, while inside is a Rock Hard complete cage kit for safety.
Both of these vehicles have a fair bit of money invested in them. And though an IFS suspension kit is usually more expensive than a solid-axle one, with the upgrade to coilover shocks we doubt the JK was any cheaper to build up. In fact, both the FJ and JK can be built on a budget or a bankroll. However, the number of companies making parts for the Jeep Wrangler far surpasses the aftermarket support for the FJ Cruiser. That said, most major suspension suppliers do offer lift kits for the FJ, and searching the ads in 4WOR, the Internet, or contacting All-Pro Off-Road can easily lead to a long wishlist for any FJ Cruiser owner.
Notice something funny about this photo? Both trucks have a solid front axle? That's because the FJ Cruiser has been modified with All-Pro Off-Road's solid axle conversion kit. The front axle is a Diamond axlehousing with a high-pinion FJ 80 centersection and Currie knuckles. The rear axle was replaced with a Currie Rock Jock Dana 60. This allows the FJ to tackle tougher trails and run alongside the Poison Spyder Jeep JK Wrangler with no worries of snapped IFS parts while turning 40-inch rubber. However, the JK has also been upgraded with Currie Rock Jock axles so it can handle the stress of 40-inch-tall BFG rubber. Both trucks have been upgraded to a point we'll call stage two, the stage you reach when you're tired of breaking stock parts.
It may look like these brand loyalists are ready to defend their truck's honor to the death, but in fact they're putting on their tough guy faces for the camera. Jon Bundrant of All-Pro Off-Road and Larry McRae of Poison Spyder Customs have been wheeling buddies for ages and even earned quite a few trophies as driver/spotter on the rockcrawling circuit.