Owner-Built V-8 JK8

There’s no deny­ing this L96 V-8 Jeep JK8 con­ver­sion on Ford 1-ton axles is tough as nails and built for trails

Jp Magazine - - Owner-Built V-8 Jk8 - By Stu­art A. Bour­don jped­i­[email protected]­magazine.com

Clark Hill pur­chased a brand-new 2007 Jeep JKU Rubicon just for the pur­pose of

cut­ting it up. When we asked why, he said, “I wanted to start the project with a clean slate and not be deal­ing with the hassle of fix­ing some­body else’s mis­takes while busy building my dream Jeep.” Driv­ing his am­bi­tion even more so was the fact that some­body told him that it couldn’t be done. That only made Clark work harder to build a Jeep pickup with gen­er­ous power and a sus­pen­sion made to han­dle any ter­rain.

The two-year process be­gan with the graft­ing of the JK8 con­ver­sion kit to the JKU body. Clark did the cut­ting, weld­ing, and grind­ing work on the body re­build, but he sourced a JK Heat Ex­pul­sion Hood en­gine hood from TOTL In­no­va­tions. Front pre­run­ner and rear shorty bumpers from VKS Fabri­ca­tion and a set of MetalCloak fend­ers were added, as well as weld-on rock slid­ers from VKS. The MetalCloak fend­ers were coated with the same gray

Ex­treme Liner that the en­tire body, in­side and out, was sprayed with. De­mon Eyes head­lights from HIDPro­jec­tors.com are perched in the grille, giv­ing the front end of the JK8 con­ver­sion a men­ac­ing stare.

The wheel­base was stretched to 120 inches (1 inch in front and 3 inches in rear), and Clark built a cus­tom three­link front and rear sus­pen­sion sys­tem that fea­tures 12-inch-stroke ORI struts. Swing­ing un­der­neath the sus­pen­sion is a pair of axles from a 2005 Ford F-350—a Dana 60 front and Ster­ling 10.5 rear are both filled with up­graded Dana Spicer axle U-joints, 5.13 gears, and ARB Air Lock­ers. The front fea­tures Warn hubs and an Artec truss; the rear got a cus­tom truss that also tied in the up­per (third) rear sus­pen­sion link. Both axles are tipped with Pow­erS­top disc brakes that get juice from a J8 booster and mas­ter cylin­der from Mopar. A Red­neck Ram hy­draulic steer­ing sys­tem helps turn the mas­sive 40x13.50R17 Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 tires on cus­tom pow­der­coated 17x9.5 Race­line ST Mon­ster bead­locks.

The job of get­ting power to those tires be­gins up front with an L96 6.0L

V-8 from a 2014 GMC 2500HD pickup. A Flex-A-Lite dual-pass all-alu­minum ra­di­a­tor with a ther­mo­stat­i­cally con­trolled fan from a 2016 Jeep Wran­gler and a Mag­naFlow dual 21⁄2 -inch to sin­gle 3-inch ex­haust sys­tem aug­ment the small-block. The right­eous dyno-tune by Throt­tle­works in Boise, Idaho, made it roar. Clark backed that up with a 6L80 juice tranny and an NV241J trans­fer case from a 2014 Jeep JK Sport; a pair of cus­tom spin­ners from Adams Drive­shaft con­nect the pow­er­train to driv­e­train.

In­side the JK8, he cre­ated a cabin filled with crea­ture com­forts and se­cu­rity mea­sures. Heated and cus­tom-pat­terned (de­signed by Clark) leather seats from Simp­son Rac­ing hold oc­cu­pants se­curely in place while on the steep­est ter­rain (and we found plenty of that on the slick­rock fins of Moab dur­ing our photo shoot). A Rock Hard 4x4 bolt-in rollcage lines the cabin and a Blaupunkt/Rock­ford Fos­gate sound sys­tem that in­cludes a 10-inch sub­woofer, 5-inch front speak­ers, and dual amps fills the space with beau­ti­ful noise for those long hauls to the trail­head.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Stu­art A. Bour­don

The nose of Clark’s rig of­fers up some se­ri­ously beefy hard­ware, in­clud­ing a cus­tom drag link and steer­ing arm, Red­neck Ram steer­ing sys­tem, and an Artec-trussed Dana 60 loaded with 5.13 gears and an ARB Air Locker. That VKS front bumper and Warn winch are bul­let­proof, too.

The size­able links used in the three-link sus­pen­sion sys­tem up front make for a sturdy foun­da­tion. Note the sweet weld job Clark did con­nect­ing the VKS rock slid­ers to the fram­erail.

An Artec alu­minum skid­plate stretches the en­tire dis­tance be­tween the sus­pen­sion links’ up­per pivot points, of­fer­ing full belly protection.

Un­der­neath the JK8’s tail is a Ster­ling 10.5 rear axle sal­vaged from a 2005 Ford F-350. The cus­tom truss also acts to an­chor the trail­ing pivot point of the third (up­per) link in the rear sus­pen­sion sys­tem. Pow­erS­top disc brakes are on the rear and front axles.

The GM 6.0L L96 V-8 was shoe­horned into the en­gine bay of the 2007 Jeep Wran­glerJK8 con­ver­sion with a lit­tle help from some friends. Once Clark got it dyno-tuned at Throt­tle­works in Boise, Idaho, the mo­tor re­ally roared to life, pro­vid­ing plenty of power to take the Jeep wher­ever he points it.

Clark took full ad­van­tage of the bed that the JK8 con­ver­sion pre­sented by quickly fill­ing it with a pre­run­ner-style spare mount for the mas­sive 40-inch tire, tool­boxes, Hi-Lift jack, and a huge ice chest. You wouldn’t know it at a glance, but that tail­gate is a cus­tom blend of CJ-8 and JK tail­gates. The bet­ter-thanfac­tory, smooth work took many days of sweat, blood, and tears for Clark to per­fect.

ORI struts with 12 inches of travel pro­vide damp­ing duty and sup­port the weight of the body. Their shock and spring so­lu­tion in one pack­age, along with ad­justa­bil­ity, made them the ob­vi­ous choice for Clark’s JK8 build.

A cus­tom trans­fer case shifter and Win­ters Per­for­mance trans­mis­sion gear shifter make trail life much eas­ier for Clark when as­cend­ing or de­scend­ing the steep slick­rock trails of Moab where we met up with him.

Com­fort in­side the cock­pit was a ma­jor part of the JK8 con­ver­sion’s build. To that end, heated and cus­tom-pat­terned seats from Simp­son Rac­ing were in­stalled.

A lit­tle ex­tra se­cu­rity for oc­cu­pants wascre­ated us­ing a Rock Hard 4x4 bolt-in rollcage. Clark welded up the most crit­i­caljoints of the cage once it was in­stalled.

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