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Sixth Time’s the Charm: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Built From Experience

A JL built from experience

With age comes experience. We've all heard this expression, and it hits home for anyone who has ever built multiple Jeeps. Take Dave Roberts, for example. With some of the most incredible off-road trails just outside his backyard in Broomfield, Colorado, this off-road enthusiast has spent years building four-wheel drives to get him all over the amazing state safely and reliably. From full-blown buggies to Hemi-powered JKs, he's been fortunate to own, wheel, and build a variety of machines.

In fact, his latest '18 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon build is the sixth Jeep he's built. While he entrusted the heavy-lifting portion of this JL build to the guys at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive in Moab, Utah, the lessons he learned from his previous builds gave him the knowledge he needed to get this one where he wanted right out of the gate. Given that his previous Wranglers had been equipped with V-8 power, one might assume that would have been the first upgrade. And here's where things got interesting.

Unlike some of his previous builds that were lined with armor, aftermarket doodads, and a throaty Hemi rumble under the hood, his JL build was considerably dialed back. When asked why, Dave stated that he's learned over the years that less can be more when it comes to the Wrangler Unlimited platform. In the past, one of his Hemi swaps was problematic (overheating and dismal fuel economy), and the more weight the Jeep had, the worse it performed. He also liked what Jeep did with the new JL platform; starting with a Rubicon with steel bumpers gave him most of what he needed straight away.

The big items that were carryover from his years of experience were the Dynatrac ProRock XD60 front and ProRock 80 rear axle set, along with a properly tuned long-travel suspension. Though there is a sound assortment of off-the-shelf lifts for the JL, Dave wanted something more similar to what's found under a competition buggy. Hence the addition of aluminum links and 14-inch-travel coilovers. All of which required a full body-off install.

We were fortunate to get a first look at the Jeep, which Dave calls Stinky, to see just how well this rig could handle some red rock trails in Moab, Utah. While Dave plans on making some custom inner fenders and few minor upgrades, the JL is where he wants it to be. Given that it's running massive 42-inch-tall BFG Krawlers, it's safe to say that this Jeep won't be backing down from too many Colorado trails any time soon.

At a Glance
General

Vehicle: '18 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Owner: David Roberts
Stomping grounds: Broomfield, Colorado
Build Time: 3 Months
Drivetrain
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V-6
Transmission: 850RE
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Low range ratio(:1): 4:0
Crawl ratio(:1): 103.9
Front axle/differential: Dynatrac ProRock XD60, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Dynatrac ProRock 80, 5.38 gears/ARB Air Locker
Suspension
Front: Custom three-link w/track bar, 14-in-travel, internal bypass King coilovers, Currie Antirock sway bar
Rear: Double-triangulated four-link, 14-in-travel, internal bypass King coilovers, Currie Antirock sway bar
Steering: PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist
Tires/Wheels
Tires: 42x14.50R20 BFG Krawler T/A KX
Wheels: 20x8.5 Raceline RT180 Liberator forged beadlock
Miscellaneous
Armor: Mopar steel bumper group, Rock Slide Engineering Step Sliders
Cool stuff: GenRight 25-gal fuel tank, Adams Driveshafts 1350 driveshafts, Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum winch, Factor 55 UltraHook