4 x 4 Australia - - Custom 4x4 Of The Year 2017 -

IT TAKES some­thing unique to make some­one switch of­froad brands, but that’s what hap­pened to Stuart Gruchy, the owner of this sweet Hy­dro Blue JKU Ru­bi­con. You see, Stuart was for­merly a Nissan Pa­trol man, but when it came time to trade-in his Pa­trol, he de­cided to switch and take on the task of mod­i­fy­ing one of the world’s most iconic 4x4s.

Stuart has spent wisely and pro­gres­sively over a cou­ple of years, tweak­ing things along the way; he orig­i­nally had 33-inch rub­ber fit­ted, be­fore mov­ing through 35s to the mon­strous 37s (37x12.5-inch Pro Comp Xtreme All Ter­rains, to be ex­act) you see wrapped around the 17x8.5-inch al­loys. Far big­ger rub­ber than he thought he wanted.

“I didn’t orig­i­nally want 37s,” he said. “But af­ter speak­ing to Henry at Jeep­kon­nec­tion and find­ing out their GVM up­grade package al­lowed for 37s, I thought why not.”

The Jeep­kon­nec­tion up­grade lifts GVM from 2500kg to 3250kg. It com­prises tweaked heavy-duty Dana 44 front and rear axles, with a nice short 4.56 diff ra­tio for the big­ger rolling stock, com­bined with ARB Air Lock­ers front and rear. The Amer­i­can Ex­pe­di­tion Ve­hi­cles (AEV) 3.5-inch sus­pen­sion lift is made up of heavy-duty springs, bump-stop spac­ers, an AEV high-steer kit and ARB’S ad­justable ex­ter­nal reser­voir BP-51 shocks.

Larger tyres add a chal­lenge for gear­ing and pow­er­trains, but Stuart sorted that with Bluey’s Au­to­mo­tive fit­ting a Sprintex Su­per­charger kit to the Ru­bi­con’s 3.6-litre Pen­tas­tar V6. Power at the wheels went up from a stock 116kw to 190kw. ’Nuff said...

Other good­ies in­clude an ARB bar with Warn CTI-S winch up front, along with three Light­force LED 215 lights. An AEV snorkel takes care of deep breath­ing, and Uneek 4x4 fit rock slid­ers, A-pil­lar


light mounts, bon­net-light and roof-light mounts (with Rigid In­dus­tries LED light bars). A Rhino-rack Back­bone sys­tem (with Foxwing awning) car­ries gear up top, while the rear fea­tures a Kay­mar twin swing­away wheel car­rier and an Af­ford­able 4x4 Draw­ers cargo drawer setup that in­cludes an Out­back So­lu­tions cargo bar­rier, fridge slide, pull-out ta­ble, drop-down ta­ble, stove and sink, with all food and drinks kept cool by an Iron­man 4x4 fridge/freezer, pow­ered by a Ge­n­e­sis dual-bat­tery sys­tem.

A Long Ranger Au­to­mo­tive 60-litre aux fuel tank takes care of the boosted donk’s in­creased thirst, while nav­i­ga­tion is sorted via a Hema HN7, comms is a Uniden UHF ra­dio, and an ARB com­pres­sor en­sures tyre pres­sure changes are a dod­dle.

Yep, it’s a well-sorted Wran­gler that is ca­pa­ble of tack­ling pretty much any­thing off-road, while still be­ing a de­cent on-road tourer, and we reckon it is money – and time – very well spent.

Su­per­charged V6 grunt and a host of kit for go­ing off-road makes this a Jeep worth switch­ing brands for.

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