An Over­land­ing JKU on38s

This heavy-duty–build 3.6L V-6 hauls it all around

Jp Magazine - - Ta­ble Of Con­tents - By Tren­ton McGee jped­i­tor@jp­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Tren­ton McGee

Dana Jones and his girl­friend Jean Mitchell work hard at their day jobs as ex­pe­d­i­tors,

criss­cross­ing the coun­try de­liv­er­ing ev­ery­thing from slot ma­chines to time­crit­i­cal med­i­cal sup­plies. As it is with most of us, time off is pre­cious, but un­like most of us, Dana and Jean spend just about ev­ery spare mo­ment they have on one off-road ad­ven­ture or an­other. They have had a laun­dry list of Jeeps from their pre­vi­ous ad­ven­tures, but their lat­est rig is the cul­mi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing they’ve learned about ex­plor­ing the back­coun­try.

As it hap­pens, they’ve also been a part of all three Jp Dirt ’N Drive events, so they were well equipped to make the long trek from Phoenix to Moab. Their 2008 JKU wasn’t the fan­ci­est of the group, nor was it the shini­est, but it was clear this Jeep was no week­end war­rior. Equipped for ex­tended long-dis­tance ex­plor­ing, Dana and Jean’s JK was right at home, even with a camp trailer in tow.

It’s hard to stand out in a sea of JKs, but a fully equipped off-road trailer cer­tainly helps, and it’s way bet­ter than a few light­bars or an an­gry bird grille. Equipped with a CVT rooftop tent and all the cook­ing, camp­ing, and other off-grid essen­tials needed, the trailer of­fers wel­come stor­age to a space-chal­lenged JK. The clever part of the setup is that while the trailer is built for off-road use, it’s re­ally more of a base­camp. They can get some­where re­mote, un­hook, and then go ex­plor­ing with­out a bunch of repack­ing. Dana re­ports that the trailer does re­quire some ex­tra con­cen­tra­tion in the tech­ni­cal stuff, but it hasn’t re­ally slowed them down.

Look­ing to make a sub­stan­tial up­grade from fac­tory

Ru­bi­con axles, Dana found a deal on an al­ready built pair of Ter­aFlex 60s filled with 5.38 gears and 35-spline shafts. A Detroit Locker out back and an ARB Air Locker in front spin 38x14.50-17 Goodyear Wran­gler MT/ Rs mounted on Race­line bead­lock wheels. A 41⁄2 -inch lift comes in the form of AEV dual-rate coil springs and an amal­ga­ma­tion of other com­po­nents. The stock 3.8L V-6 strug­gles a bit on the hills de­spite the 5.38s, but they did what they could to help it breathe eas­ier with a Volant in­take, Mag­naFlow ex­haust, and Su­per­chips tuner.

As hinted at ear­lier, Dana and Jean’s JK sees the back­coun­try more of­ten than most of the JKUs we see run­ning around. In ad­di­tion to Dirt ’N Drive, they hit many of the pop­u­lar trails in and around Moab, plus an overnight trip to Lock­hart Basin dur­ing the week of Easter Jeep Sa­fari alone. Best of all, their Wash­ing­ton, Utah, home is close to Moab, as well as lots of other world-class ar­eas worth ex­plor­ing. Dana and Jean’s JK might not turn a bunch of heads, but it gets used all the time and works per­fectly to get them far off the beaten path.

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