STRETCHED TWO-DOOR JK WRAN­GLER FROM THE CAROLINAS

Jp Magazine - - Front Page - By Ali Man­sour jped­i­[email protected]­magazine.com Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ali Man­sour

While purists were busy de­bat­ing if Jeep had gone soft with the JK, Jeep deal­ers were sell­ing two- and four-door ver­sions as fast as the fac­tory could make them. How­ever, un­no­ticed by the main­stream in the storm of the Un­lim­ited’s run­away suc­cess, was the fact that you could get a very mod­estly priced bare-bones two-door.

This Red Rock Crys­tal Pearl ’07 Wran­gler was one of those nearly un­no­ticed two-door JKs. Pur­chased with ba­sic roll-up doors, a proper man­ual trans­mis­sion, and a soft top, it was an ideal plat­form for a no-frills wheel­ing ma­chine. A decade and a few own­ers later, this Jeep has changed quite a bit. Now stretched and well built, Josh Whit­comb’s two-door JK de­fines the mean­ing of “un­lim­ited.”

Work­ing as the shop man­ager for Low Range 4x4 in Wilm­ing­ton, North Carolina, Josh has seen his fair share of builds over the years. It was this knowl­edge that helped him trans­form this firstyear JK into the ma­chine it is to­day. To get a closer look at the setup, we caught up with the 1-ton–axled Jeep at our lo­cal prov­ing grounds.

Chas­sis

The low-and-long for­mula for the two-door JK has been a proven one. How­ever, ac­com­plish­ing these goals on a 1-ton–axled Wran­gler can have its chal­lenges. For the front sus­pen­sion,

A low-pro­file, ex­tra­long Jeep JK built to han­dle ev­ery ter­rain

an EVO Man­u­fac­tur­ing long-arm sys­tem was paired with a coilover tower from the com­pany’s Dou­ble Throw­down line. Us­ing the swept shock tower al­lowed Josh to in­cor­po­rate a 12-inch-travel King 2.0 coilover, while keep­ing the over­all lift height down.

In the back, you’ll find EVO long arms se­cured in the stock JK con­trol arm mounts on the chas­sis. This pushes the rear axle back 8 inches, mak­ing for a very sta­ble 104-inch wheel­base. To en­sure the Jeep would have plenty of sus­pen­sion travel, a cus­tom coilover tower was notched through the back of the tub. This tubu­lar tower se­cures a set of 12-inch­travel 2.0 King coilovers.

To en­sure the Jeep has proper road man­ners, a Ter­aFlex S/T sway bar is used up front. It sits just un­der the cus­tom Warn M8000 winch mount that dou­bles as a high-clear­ance front bumper. This cus­tom chop was done to in­crease the ap­proach an­gle and re­duce any un­nec­es­sary bumper weight. Fol­low­ing that trend out back is a clean and sim­ple EVO rear fas­cia, D-ring set, and tail­gate plate mount.

Driv­e­train

Pow­er­ing the Jeep is the orig­i­nal 3.8L V-6 en­gine. It gets a lit­tle breath­ing help thanks to a cold-air in­take and Banks ex­haust sys­tem, but is oth­er­wise stock. Back­ing the V-6 is the orig­i­nal six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion. While the NVG 241 trans­fer case has a home there for now, a 241OR from a Rubicon is on the up­grade list. Driv­ing the 1-ton dif­fer­en­tials is a set of CV drivelines from Tom Wood’s Cus­tom Drive Shafts.

Up front, you’ll find a cus­tom high­pin­ion Dana 60 that was built by East Coast Gear Sup­ply. It uses the new high­clear­ance Ul­ti­mate Dana 60 dif­fer­en­tial

hous­ing with 31⁄2 -inch, 1⁄2 -inch-wall axle­tubes. The outer knuck­les are from a Ford Su­per Duty and re­quired the hubs to be ma­chined for the Yukon axle­shafts. In­side, you’ll find a Yukon Griz­zly

Locker paired with a set of 5.38 gears.

Out back, a GM 14-bolt was given the full Bal­lis­tic Fabri­ca­tion shave treat­ment along with an Artec disc-brake con­ver­sion. En­sur­ing that both 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grap­plers are fight­ing for trac­tion is a Yukon Griz­zly Locker and 5.38 gearset. Since the front hubs were ma­chined to an 8-on-6.5 bolt pat­tern, Josh is able to use off-the-shelf 17x9

KMC Ma­chete Crawl bead­locks. Mak­ing sure the Jeep re­mains easy to ma­neu­ver on the trail is a cus­tom steer­ing setup us­ing a hy­draulic-as­sist kit from PSC Mo­tor­sports, along with off­set rod ends from Barnes 4WD.

Body and In­te­rior

At first glance, the body of the Jeep might look pretty stock. This is thanks to the color-matched alu­minum rear stretch cor­ners and rocker guards from EVO. Sub­tle light­ing up­grades, such as the Truck-Lite LED head­lights and 12-inch Rough Coun­try light­bar, of­fer a mix of prac­ti­cal and trail il­lu­mi­na­tion. To con­trol any elec­tronic ac­ces­sories, the JK is fit with an MLC-6 switch panel from Rough Coun­try.

In­side, the stock seats were re­placed with Baja R/S units from Cor­beau. To make clean­ing up af­ter wheel­ing out­ings a lit­tle eas­ier, the OE car­pet was pulled in fa­vor of a BedTred floor liner kit. De­spite the coilover tower pok­ing through the rear floor, Josh can still use a rear seat so his kid­dos can ride along too. To keep dust and fumes from rolling into the cabin, he cre­ated a cus­tom cover that seals the tower.

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