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Matt Guthrie’s 2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

One clean LJ.

We, and countless others, love Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds, but long before there were four-door Wranglers with the name, either in JK or JL form, there were other longer-bodied, open-top Jeeps available, namely the TJ Unlimited or LJ. But those are hardly the first long wheelbased versions of the open-top Jeep. The first "long Jeeps" were a very few modified MBs and GPWs built during or shortly after WWII for use in the military. Then there was the military M-170 (1953), and then the civilian CJ-6 (1956), a design that added about 20 inches of length to the interior of the tub of the M38A1/CJ-5 platform. After that, the CJ-7 (1976) was nominally larger (about 10 inches of interior space) than the CJ-5, but the CJ-8 (1981) or Jeep Scrambler added even more length (about 2 feet) to the basic CJ-7 body design. Likewise, the Jeep TJ Unlimited or the LJ was a long-wheelbase version of the Jeep Wrangler TJ. This Jeep, like its lengthened predecessors, is bound to become one of the more desirable and collectable Jeep models going forward.

Matt Guthrie's LJ

This 2004 Wrangler TJ Unlimited, belonging to Matt Guthrie of Escondido, California, is no exception. It's one of the better-looking LJs we've seen on the trail in recent years. We caught up with Matt and his Jeep at the Milestar Tires XPDN1 event in western Arizona in December of 2020, where we got to see the Jeep perform. As it turns out, we'd met Matt before, long ago, and he, like us has been into 4x4s all his life. Since the time Matt turned 16, he's had four-wheel-drive trucks and built a few sand-rail buggies for the Glamis dunes in California. Later, Matt was a spotter at many rockcrawling events for his brother, Mitch Guthrie (of rockcrawling and KOH UTV racing fame). In 2007 Matt bought this 2004 Jeep Wrangler LJ as a commuter and slowly built the Jeep into a trail rig on 37-inch tires (while growing through three sets of axles!). More recently, during trips to Moab, keeping up with friends with JKs on 40-inch tires was getting more difficult for Matt, and his friends pushed him toward building a JK (shame on those friends!). Despite this, Matt couldn't get rid of his LJ. With permanent scars from welding and grinding on it to get it where it is today, it was too valuable to him. Instead, the LJ was stretched and tuned for 40s with several modifications that were rounded out with a license plate that says NOTAJK.

Engine: Factory 2004 Jeep 4.0L with a K&N air filter

Transmission: 4-speed 42RLE automatic

Transfer case(s): NP231 with an SYE

Front axle: Currie Extreme 60, 5.38:1 gears, Detroit locker

Rear axle: Currie Extreme 70, 5.38:1 gears, ARB air locker

Suspension: Savvy mid arm kit for 4 inches with RockJock Jonny Joints, stretched 1 inch forward and 4 inches back by Brothers 4x4 in Montclair, California, RockJock sway bars front and rear, King coilovers, and King air bumps

Tires and wheels: 40/13.50R17LT Milestar Patagonia M/Ts on KMC Machete beadlock wheels

Steering: PSC ram, AGR steering box, custom-built tie rods from Brothers 4x4

Other stuff: American Convoy soft top, Warn 9.0 RC, GenRight aluminum fenders, rock sliders, body mounts, and 1-inch body lift and Savvy bumpers front and rear, Savvy skidplates. Matt also built a custom tire rack in the back of the Jeep to maximize storage space for overnight trips. Much of the body of the Jeep is wrapped in KPMF Ominous Grey vinyl wrap to complete the look. Matt says that next on the list is dropping the 4.0L for a V-8 with an auto and an Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case system.