Low and long.

SINCE WORLD WAR II, OPEN-TOP Jeeps have be­come an icon tied with ca­pa­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity. Sure, in that time other 4x4s have come, and many have gone. And although the mod­ern-day Jeep has evolved from those first flat­fend­ers, the cur­rent Wran­gler has a lot in com­mon with the orig­i­nal jeeps. Other 4x4s are barely rec­og­niz­able when parked next to their au­to­mo­tive an­ces­tors, if any ex­ist at all.

One Jeep model that is bound to get any Jeep­ers heart beat­ing a lit­tle faster is the Jeep Wran­gler TJ Un­lim­ited (unof­fi­cially known as the LJ). Avail­able for three model years, the LJ is a stretched-wheel­base Wran­gler TJ that is clearly in­spired by two other stretched-wheel­base Jeeps of the past: the CJ-8 (or Scram­bler) and CJ-6. All of these longer Jeeps have proven to be per­form­ers that also at­tract Jeep col­lec­tors, com­mand­ing a higher price than their shorter equiv­a­lents.

Dur­ing the 2017 Moab Easter Jeep Sa­fari we bumped into our friend Adam Shoe­maker of Fen­ton, Michi­gan, and his lovely and large 2006 Jeep Wran­gler Un­lim­ited Ru­bi­con. Our his­tory with Shoe­maker re­volves around clean Jeeps, as we shot a fea­ture on a TJ he built a few years back. And if that Jeep was clean, this Jeep is that much cleaner. Not much on this rig hasn’t been warmed over and re­in­forced, or will be.


The first step in this ut­terly cool and su­per-clean build was to find an LJ to start with. This LJ was no slouch, even in stock form. The 2006 started life as the rarest of the rare: a well-equipped last-year LJ Ru­bi­con. Adam Shoe­maker stripped most of the fac­tory bits off the ex­te­rior of the Jeep and ditched those iconic 4.10-geared Dana 44s with big­ger and bet­ter in mind. Tak­ing their place are Solid Axle In­dus­tries Dana 60s and a pas­sel of CrawlTek body ar­mor. Huge 42/14.50R17LT Goodyear MT/R tires with Kevlar are wrapped around 17x9 KMC Ma­chete wheels that were pow­der­coated orange for a lit­tle pop. These tires clear thanks to CrawlTek In­ferno High­line front fend­ers and a 3-inch front stretch. Out back the LJ’s tub was opened up to ac­com­mo­date all that tire and a 4-inch stretch rear­ward. The sus­pen­sion on the LJ comes care of a Rock Krawler Trail Hero 2.0.

Un­der the hood still re­sides the Jeeps orig­i­nal

2 4.0L in­line-six en­gine, which is bolted to the four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and

NP241OR trans­fer case the Jeep left the fac­tory with. Other un­der­hood ad­di­tions are an Op­tima Yel­lowTop bat­tery, an open-el­e­ment air fil­ter, a PSC power steer­ing reser­voir, and an sPOD to con­trol the Jeep’s af­ter­mar­ket elec­tronic ac­ces­sories. CrawlTek Rev­o­lu­tion In­ferno High­line Front Fend­ers help the Jeep clear the mas­sive tires and come with clean alu­minum in­ner fend­ers to keep out mud and de­bris.

3 Both front and rear axles are Solid Axle In­dus­tries Dana 60s filled with Yukon 35-spline axle­shafts, a pair of ARB Air Lock­ers, and 5.13:1 gears. The front axle also has Reid Knuck­les and Artec high-steer arms. Both axles also wear Artec axle brack­ets to bridge the gap from axle to sus­pen­sion. A PSC steer­ing sys­tem with a ram-as­sist cylin­der tells the Jeep which di­rec­tion to go.

The in­te­rior of the Jeep re­mains mostly

4 stock with the ad­di­tion of some MasterCraft seats and a Daystar dash panel. The ex­tra

10 inches of in­te­rior space and added wheel­base give any LJ an up­per hand on its more pedes­trian TJ sis­ters. 5 We love any rig that wears big tires, is wide, and sits low to the ground. The sta­bil­ity af­forded by the low cen­ter of grav­ity and the clear­ance of the huge tires al­lows any ve­hi­cle like this Jeep to be in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble and easy to drive off-road. A Warn Zeon 12s lives on a CrawlTek Pyro Stubby Bumper in case the big Jeep needs a tug. The bumper al­lows the steer­ing box to be ro­tated, gain­ing room for the front stretch.

A cus­tom orange Spi­deweb Shade ties


to­gether the con­trast­ing color theme of the KMC wheels. A CrawlTek Drop Down Tail­gate harkens back to the Scram­blers and CJ-6 Jeeps of yore. The cus­tom tail­gate from CrawlTek also has an in­te­rior Molle rack to help se­cure trail gear inside the Jeep. The rocker guards and rear bumper are also from CrawlTek. MaxBuilt Trail Tails warn fol­low­ers when­ever Shoe­maker slows. Currie Anti-Rock sway bars keep the Jeep level in turns while still al­low­ing for plenty of flex. Spe­cial thanks to Area BFE near Moab for let­ting Shoe­maker and us play as well as shoot this fea­ture dur­ing EJS 2017. If you’ve ever been to Moab but haven’t vis­ited Area BFE, you’re miss­ing out. They of­fer all kinds of of­froad chal­lenges, ac­cept dona­tions, and can help you host an off-road event.







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