An Overlanding JKU on38s
This heavy-duty–build 3.6L V-6 hauls it all around
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.