EL DIABLO: THE DEVIL YOU DREAM ABOUT
Giving in to temptation creates a Hellcat JK Rubicon capable of getting you through trail hell… and home.
You only need three simple things to create your ultimate off-road adventure vehicle: a dream, a builder, and commitment. And if you dream big, some cash.
In the fall of 2020, Jeep revealed its Rubicon Concept 392. At that time, we asked them ‘How much?’ “It’s just a concept, so there is no price,” they said. This was a big fat lie.
Mike Kelemen had a dream long before the 392 was a concept. It was to build a highly capable off-road rig with a monster V8 that was as solid and fun to drive off-road as it was on-road. These two performance characteristics rarely go hand-in-hand. You either build a rig for the trail, or you build it for the road and make compromises that you can live with along the way.
We’ll let the cat out of the bag right away, the Hellcat. This is a 6.2L supercharged V8 capable of producing 707 hp and 650 lb ft of torque under the hood of a 2008 Wrangler Rubicon
JK. Not the ‘anemic’ 6.4L Hemi in the 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 392 producing a ‘measly’ 470 hp and a ‘paltry’ 470 lb-ft of torque.
This conquistador of trails has 40”
Toyo Open Country M/T rubber on beadlock-DOT-approved wheels for traction and clearance, and a 6.5” lift for even more clearance.
Even with all this traction and clearance, a fella could still get into some trouble. So Kelemen included trail essentials like a Smittybilt X20 17,500 lb winch on a front XRC bumper, an ARB twin compressor connected to two VIAIR two-gallon reservoir tanks, enough body armour for an assault vehicle, and several additional RotopaX fuel cans – because you’re going to accept low miles per gallon for sky-high spm – smiles per mile.
Dream big. As you, our esteemed audience member may have surmised, you can’t ‘just’ drop a demonic beast of an engine under the hood of a stock JK and hit the gas without
having the resulting explosion of drivetrain parts resemble a NAPA store dropped from the sky. Hellcat power is unleashed through an Atlas Pro Series transfer case to custom-built driveshafts connected to Dana 60 Rock Jock one-ton axles with G2 5:38 gears and Eaton E Lockers. The bottom line? With its 40” tires, Diablo was dyno tested at 577 horsepower to the rear wheels. Wow.
Although we hate to bring it up, at some point the Diablo has to stop. Enter the front and rear Baer Brakes Pro Brake System with 13.5" rotors and the 6P 6-piston calipers.
Everything we’ve talked about so far will
move and stop Diablo very well in a straight, flat line but Kelemen wasn’t looking for a dragster. If you’ve been doing a little mental math so far you’ve realized this is a tall, heavy road and trail assault vehicle. You can’t turn it with stock Wrangler soapbox derby parts. Cranking the wheel engages a PSC big bore steering gearbox and assist arms that filter through a BDS long arm kit, EMF rod ends, and steadied by TeraFlex track bars.
Sucking up the bumps and reaching for traction comes courtesy of the front and rear King coilover shocks with external reservoirs and King bump stops.
Functionally, the Diablo is unstoppable, but that wasn’t enough. The Diablo needed to be comfortable for long trips to adventurous destinations and stand out with a custom look. Kelemen didn’t want a trailer queen; he wanted to leave the driveway, go exploring, and drive home. Enter a premium Alpine infotainment and sound system with subwoofer, WeatherTech floor liners, and heated, custom embroidered seats. To make it easy for Kelemen’s better half to enter and exit they added RockSlide step sliders.
Attention to detail was paramount. If you’re going to go all the way – then go all the way. As life coaches like to espouse, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” They tore apart the 6.2L Hellcat engine with the standard orange block and painted it silver to match the accent colour, and then rebuilt it. Body styling mods included a Red Rock Grille, custom hood, Aries tubular fenders with Fishbone inner fenders, and Rugged Ridge half doors.
With the skinny pedal mashed to the floor, you unleash 707 horsepower through a custom exhaust, which in split seconds goes from a rumble to a roar that you can hear and feel. You’re pressed back hard into the seat at the wheel of El Diablo and there is no mountain you can’t climb. Are those horns we see growing from beneath your ball cap?
Owner and dreamer: Mike Kelemen, Instagram - @diablojkhellcat
Builder: Blain Schacher of Shocker Mechanical in Camrose, AB