Dakota Customs Performs a “Simple” Buildup on a New Rubicon Unlimited X
Magazine project vehicles are sometimes loaded with esoteric aftermarket parts and the vehicle builds can be quite complicated. Many of ours fit this bill, with some, such as Project TrailRunner, running for years. Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited Rubicons are capable vehicles stock. With a few parts, they can be built into great backcountry exploring vehicles. We were talking with Dakota Customs and they offered to perform a “simple” buildup on a new Rubicon Unlimited X. The Rubicon X is similar to last year’s 10th Anniversary model, sans the red leather interior.
Simple started as a 2014 Jeep Rubicon X with W5A580 automatic transmission, with all the Rubicon X features including vented hood, front X (or, anniversary) bumper with removable wings, rear X bumper, Mopar rocker guards, Mopar Gas Filler Door, front and rear Tru Lok locking differentials, Rock Trac transfer case, SmartBar electronic sway bar, etc. We planned to retain the OE front and rear bumpers, 4.10 gears, Tru Lok locking differentials, and SmartBar electronic front swaybar.
Even simple projects need good parts. After experiencing a friend’s AEV-equipped Unlimited, we opted for an AEV 3.5” DualSport RS suspension system that‘s completely bolt-on. The AEV kit includes control arm brackets that correct the Jeep’s suspension geometry and comes with Bilstein reservoir shocks. The system is designed to allow the Jeep to perform better than stock with no issues. An AEV swing away tire carrier and 10.2-gallon fuel caddy was added to the OE Rubicon X rear bumper. A Warn 9.5cti-s winch was installed in the OE front bumper. The 3.5” suspension lift made room for 35x12.50R17LT Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar tires mounted on 17” AEV Pintler wheels.
No matter how simple a JK Wrangler project is, even if leaving the Jeep completely stock otherwise, the weak front end needs to be addressed. There are outstanding aftermarket housings available today, but for Simple, we opted to beef up the OE Rubicon Dana 44. Synergy ball joints, knuckle gussets, and inner axle sleeves make the housing stronger. RCV CV axles with 300M inner shafts are stronger than the housing. 300M is a low alloy, vacuum melted steel of very high strength. Essentially it is a modified AISI 4340 steel with silicon, vanadium and slightly greater carbon and molybdenum content than 4340. It’s used in aircraft landing gear and airframe components. A Synergy track bar and sector shaft brace keeps the steering gear box working and the track bar bracket on the frame, even though Simple probably won’t be heading for the Hammers any time soon. The OE track bar hits the Synergy sector shaft brace bolt, so a JKS JK front track bar was installed.
Simple is a sleeper built for highway and backcountry exploring and works perfectly. The AEV parts work stunningly well. Except for the axle gussets, all parts were bolt on easy and Dakota Customs built the Jeep in a day once it arrived at their dealership. They then delivered it to our door, just as they’ll do with all of their customer project builds. Watch for the complete feature here and in 4Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine.