CUSTOM 4WD: JK JEEP WRANGLER 4-DOOR
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK ALLEN
LIKE A VIRGIN
THERE’S ALWAYS A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYONE!
Vehicle: JK Wrangler
Engine: 3.8 petrol V6
Front - 4.5 inch Rubicon short arm with Rancho RS9000 shocks
Rear - 4.5 inch Rubicon short arm with Rancho RS9000 shocks
Front - standard
Rear - standard
Rims: Pro Comp alloy 18x9.5
Tyres: Pro Comp XTerrain LT325/65R18
Eric Prevendido patiently waited 18 years for his first Jeep experience in Australia. While he had driven plenty of Jeeps back in the Philippines, he had to remain Jeepless (or celibate) until his ideal Jeep (the 4-door Wrangler) became available. As the 2-door variants wouldn’t accommodate his young family, he did have a short stint behind the wheel of an old 253 V8-powered HiLux, but jumped into a brand new 4-door Wrangler, with plenty of mods in mind right from the word go. In fact he’d only clocked up 800km when the modification process started.
Eric is the first to admit this Jeep won’t (initially) see too much off road work, but he’s gone the whole hog with the modification process to cater for any obstacle that he may come across in the future. He spent plenty of time talking to many ‘experts’ in the field of aftermarket gear and opted to purchase much of the gear from Wooders Garage (a dedicated Jeep joint), have most of the work done at Mitchell Bros 4x4 (in The northern suburbs of Sydney), plus spin a few spanners himself.
Wooders Garage supplied a Rubicon Express 3.5 inch Super-Flex system, with one inch longer coils (4.5-inch) over the standard kit plus Rancho RS9000 9-stage adjustable shocks. Eric installed the short arm kit, which bolts onto the existing factory mounts and provides far more suspension flex and underbody clearance over standard. As this photo shoot was the very first off road excursion for the Wrangler, Eric was amazed at how easily his Jeep clawed it’s way up a few severe, rocky climbs without lifting wheels.
The Rubicon kit includes adjustable-length upper control arms, fixed-length lower control arms, Super Flex spherical ball joints, extended bump stops, longer stainless steel brake lines and the aforementioned Rancho shocks and 4.5-inch raised coil springs.
To ensure all four wheels could maintain constant drive off road, Eric had Mitchell Bros 4x4 install ARB Air Lockers with all switches mounted within easy reach in the centre of the dash. To provide even more ground clearance Eric opted for LT325/65R18 (35x13.5R18 in the old money) Pro Comp XTerrain directional tyres on Pro Comp alloy 18x9.5-inch rims.
To cover the larger wheels, Wooders garage also supplied Bushwacker flares, which Eric had colour-coded along with the normally-black removable roof and side steps. This white-all-over look certainly transforms the Jeeps appearance into a real head turner.
With the standard JK Wrangler rims having the tyre pressure warning system which alerts the driver to a lose of tyre pressure, they had to be removed and replaced into the Pro Comp rims - all five of them including the rear-mounted spare otherwise the system warnings go off continuously. Mitchell Bros 4x4 imported the rims direct from Pro Comp USA as a custom one-off job – taking 5 months to finalise, but Eric reckons it was worth it for the look he has created!
Yukon 4.88:1 crown wheel and pinion gears have been fitted to both front and rear diffs to bring final gearing back close to standard with the oversized diameter tyres. ARB diff covers have replaced the standard to offer extra protection from rocks.
A BITTA BLING
As Eric was keen to create an eye catching streeter as well as a capable off roader, he’s included chrome clip-on covers on the door handles, side rear vision mirrors and the fuel filler surrounds. Being an avid ‘sticker-maker’, he custom made the skull and cross bone emblems on the guards, along with the ‘Rubicon Express” sticker (no this Wrangler ain’t a real Rubicon). Rear LED lights provide number plate illumination, while KC HiLites are mounted to the imported powder coated steel AEV (American Expedition Vehicles) bull bar.
Also mounted to the front bar is a Warn 9500 low mount thermometric electric winch and a pair of bow shackles all set for recovery...in the bush or the local take away joint in town!
At this stage Eric has left the 3.8 litre petrol V6 and auto gearbox as standard as with the exhaust and air intake. He figures that with the crown wheel gearing change, combined with the larger rubber, it drives great. The interior is all standard except for the rear occupant grab handles – they’re courtesy of his golf bag!
Why the complete white paint job? Eric tells us he “loves the classic look combined with big aggressive tyres” but seeing as he’s a refrigeration mechanic we figured that may also go some way to explaining the ‘white-out’ look. Once the Wrangler was finished, he very sheepishly presented it to his good wife, who had become quite suspicious due to the web sites he’d been surfing, money he’d been spending and time out of the house. While she didn’t have any say in their 4WD, Eric tells us she loves it and reckons he’s made a great first-up impression with his first Australian Jeep.
A great first experience all round!