Homebuilt Jeep Hybrid - 1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ

    YJ Wrangler + Unimog Axles = Trail Slayer

    Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

    Kris Wix wasn’t always a wheeler. “I grew up in the mountains of Truckee, California,” he says, “and we get a lot of snow in the winter. I was used to driving 4x4s, but seven years ago I couldn’t even get a pitman arm off a steering box.”

    Since that time Kris has jumped in with both feet, turning what was once daily transportation into a dedicated trail slayer. He is the second owner of his ’93 YJ, having driven it throughout his college years with his girlfriend. The two have since married and started a family, and just as their lives have changed so has the YJ. Kris bought a tube bender, a notcher, and Bend Tech software, and with the help of his friend Jeremy Winters he built a grille hoop and a full rollcage. “I could have paid someone to build me a cage,” says Kris, “but instead I invested the money in a tube bender.”

    I could have paid someone to build me a cage, but instead I spent that money on a tube bender

    Unimog 404 portal axles were added front and rear, with factory air lockers and 7.56 gear reduction between the ring-and-pinion and portal boxes. The axles required a host of other modifications in order to fit under the Jeep, starting with pinion conversions and disc brake upgrades from Exaxt and continuing on to details like a Dodge master cylinder and an RCI fuel cell fitted with the stock YJ fuel pump. Kris also converted his suspension to coilovers and links at the same time, and stretched the wheelbase to 114 inches.

    His previous daily driver Jeep was under house arrest for several months as he tore it down to perform these modifications in the evenings after work. The maiden voyage was in Johnson Valley right before the 2009 King of the Hammers. Kris recalls, “I broke the track bar off the axle at the top of Sledgehammer and almost didn’t get it off the course before the race began!” He has since worked out all of the bugs and has been enjoying the hardest trails he can find ever since.

    The rear suspension uses a triangulated three-link with 16-inch-travel Fox coilovers and air bumps, while the front suspension consists of a conventional three-link with a track bar and 14-inch travel Fox coilovers. Kris built all of his own links out of 0.250-wall tube and capped them with Rubicon Express Flex Joints.

    Tech Specs
    1993 Jeep Wrangler YJ
    Engine: 4.0L I-6
    Transmission: AW4 4-speed automatic
    Transfer case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
    Front Axle: Unimog 404, factory air lockers, 7.56 gears (3.54 diff and 2.13 hub)
    Rear Axle: Unimog 404, factory air lockers, 7.56 gears (3.54 diff and 2.13 hub)

    Springs & Such: 14-inch-travel Fox 2.0 coilovers w/ 250 over 350 in-lb Eibach springs (front),16-inch-travel Fox 2.0 coilovers with 200 over 300 in-lb Eibach springs (rear), and Fox air bumps
    Tires & Wheels: 14/42-17LT Super Swamper Iroks on 17-inch Hummer H2 rims
    Steering: Full hydraulic with PSC double-ended ram
    Other Stuff: Rear steer, owner-built custom cage, Warn winch, Viair compressor and tank, Exaxt disc brake conversion, GenRight front tube fenders