COVER FEA­TURE

Capeto­nian Sean Hill has driven all kinds of 4×4s: Toy­ota Land Cruis­ers, Land Rovers, Ford F250s and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. Spe­cial­is­ing in the oil and gas in­dus­try, he has worked all over the globe, from Rus­sia to East Africa, get­ting a taste for dif­fere

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

There are a lot of great 'cus­tombuilt' Jeeps out there, so if you want to at­tract at­ten­tion, you need some­thing spe­cial. A yel­low one with 40-inch tyres, how­ever, is sure to do the trick. Is this the ul­ti­mate Wran­gler?

Jeep fa­nat­ics are a pas­sion­ate lot. Many are quite un­am­bigu­ous about their love af­fair with their Jeeps, adding bold stick­ers to their 4×4s to openly pro­claim their affin­ity to­wards the brand. A few ex­am­ples: “I may get lost, but I’ll never get stuck.”

“I want some­one to look at me the way I look at my Jeep.”

Sean Hill un­der­stands this per­plex­ing phe­nom­e­non. He also suf­fers from it. Or lives by it, rather. So, when his beloved Jeep Wran­gler Ru­bi­con ex­pired in a fire in 2014, he was in­con­solable.

Fast for­ward to Fe­bru­ary 2017. Sean’s wife bought him a new Jeep Wran­gler Ru­bi­con Un­lim­ited 3.6 V6 AT. He was back in the game! And, with more fi­nan­cial free­dom than be­fore, he de­cided to turn this yel­low Ru­bi­con into his ul­ti­mate dream 4×4.

So he took to Google like our gov­ern­ment takes to scan­dals, and he started re­search­ing all the op­tions for his dream Jeep.

The United States boasts the big­gest Jeep ac­ces­sory mar­ket by far, so this be­came Sean’s hunt­ing ground. Af­ter much read­ing, re­search and fo­rum vis­its and ques­tions, he or­dered a Ter­aFlex six-inch Elite LCG Long Flexarm lift kit with 9550 shock ab­sorbers. This up­grade to­tals about R60 000, be­fore any levies or fit­ment costs are added.

Also in his Ter­aFlex shop­ping bas­ket were two Dana 60 axles with ARB air lock­ers and a new 5.38 gear ra­tio. That added an­other R200 000 or so to the bas­ket. This is where that old say­ing about ‘the good things in life don’t come cheap’ hits the bull’s eye. Sean wanted the best, and he got the best.

To make sure he could turn the big­ger wheels with­out ef­fort or re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues, an up­graded steer­ing sta­biliser was fit­ted. Adams Drive­shafts and Of­fRoad prod­ucts were im­ported to re­place the stan­dard shafts and other vi­tal driv­e­line parts.

KMC Ma­chete 17-inch bead lock rims were fit­ted with huge 40-inch Cooper Dis­cov­erer STT Pro tyres (40/13.5/17).

A dual com­pres­sor sys­tem was in­stalled un­der a seat, and the cylin­ders pro­vide pres­sure for the

twin ARB air lock­ers (in the axles), as well as for in­flat­ing the tyres af­ter driv­ing off-road. And talk­ing about tyre pres­sures, the Jeep is fit­ted with a full tyre pres­sure-mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem so Sean can keep an eye on each tyre’s pres­sure.

An­other me­chan­i­cal up­grade re­volved around the ex­haust sys­tem: the Jeep had to at least sound as good as it looked. So a high­per­for­mance free-flow ex­haust was fit­ted in place of the stan­dard sys­tem. Power-wise, Sean was sat­is­fied: with a stan­dard 209kW un­der the hood, this Jeep has plenty of horses to spare.

To en­sure the au­to­matic gear­box runs as cool as it should even in ex­treme op­er­at­ing con­di­tions, a cooler was added for the trans­mis­sion. A snorkel and a cold air in­take sys­tem keep the air that the V6 engine breathes cool. A long-range fuel tank also en­sures a range of around 700km be­tween re­fills.

Of course, the Jeep would not have been com­plete with­out some cos­metic up­dates. There is a re­place­ment bon­net, grille, some top-notch JW Speaker LED lights, a stubby bull bar with a Warn winch, a stubby rear bar with a spare wheel car­rier, and there’s also an LED light bar.

In­side the cabin there’s a du­al­bat­tery sys­tem linked to so­lar pan­els on the roof, a high-end Rockford Fos­gate sound sys­tem and a sPOD power man­age­ment sys­tem. The cabin has also been colour-coded, with dabs of sub­tle yel­low fin­ishes.

Cape Town-based Ma­niac 4×4 Man­u­fac­tur­ing put all the parts to­gether for Sean, and Ma­niac’s Mark Ester­huizen says it was a heck of a thing to do.

“Sean knew ex­actly what he wanted, so he im­ported all the parts him­self from the States. Then he dropped off the parts and his Jeep, with just 12 000km on the clock, and told us to make it all come to­gether. There was a time when it looked as if some­one had det­o­nated a hand grenade in­side the Jeep’s cabin, it was in so many pieces! But all’s well that ends well,” says Ester­huizen.

Sean’s labour of love clearly is not only about looks: it’s ex­tremely ca­pa­ble, too.

“At the At­lantis Dunes near Cape Town I can lit­er­ally take off half­way up a steep dune, and still make it up. It’s just amaz­ing,” he beams.

But what is the Jeep to be used for? Sand mainly? Or maybe some over­land­ing?

“It’s my daily run­ner. But I also use it for driv­ing over rocks, through rivers, in sand dunes, ev­ery­thing re­ally. I’m plan­ning to take it over­land­ing to Namibia and Botswana. So it’s not a ma­chine built specif­i­cally for this or that type of 4×4 chal­lenge. In­stead, it’s my dream 4×4 that can do, well, ev­ery­thing,” he ex­plains.

And any more up­grades on the cards for the fu­ture?

“One day I’ll prob­a­bly add a su­per­charger. But it’s not an up­grade it re­ally needs, since there are plenty of horses as it is. It will just be a cool added ben­e­fit,” says Sean.

And if money was ab­so­lutely no ob­ject... if he could pick any 4×4 in

the world, and do any up­grade to it that his heart de­sired, what would it be?

“Well...” starts Sean, “I al­ready have my dream 4×4, and it’s parked right there,” he says, point­ing at Beast, the Jeep. “That’s it for me, right there...”

He is clearly a man pos­sessed with the spirit of Jeep. He has even bought his 10 month-old daugh­ter a re­mote con­trolled Jeep Wran­gler so she can also live the Jeep life.

We’ll leave the last words to Ma­niac 4×4’s Mark Ester­huizen, who is also a bit of Jeep fa­natic.

“Sean is man of great prin­ci­ple, fo­cus and ded­i­ca­tion. While we were build­ing his Jeep, when­ever he ar­rived back in Cape Town af­ter an over­seas job, the first thing he did was to catch an Uber from the air­port to our work­shop, to come and check on the progress of his 4×4. Now that is a man with the right pri­or­i­ties,” says Mark. Nuff said. How much? How much? Clearly a lot of money has been spent on this Jeep... prob­a­bly some­where in the re­gion of R500 000 (over and above the ask­ing price).

But ask­ing owner Sean Hill ex­actly how much he’s thrown at the Jeep would be a bit like ask­ing a lady you’ve never met be­fore on the public bus what size bra she’s wear­ing. Not quite the ques­tion to ask, then.

In Sean’s case, it’s all about a love af­fair. As any true ro­man­tic will tell you, there’s no limit on the wal­let when it comes to mat­ters of the heart. No lim­its, what­so­ever.

Mark Ester­huizen at ma­ni­ac4x4.co.za

Right:

The stock­stan­dard Ru­bi­con ar­rived at the Ma­niac 4x4 work­shop with just 12 000km on the clock. It looks a bit dif­fer­ent now.

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