Boosted in Black | 2012 Jeep Wrangler with some Super Sized Upgrades
When it comes to building a Jeep for serious ‘wheeling, there’s one sure-fire formula that always works: big axles for big tires. While the Wrangler platform has seen significant axle improvements over the years, for those looking to run a 40-inch-tall (or larger) tire, the stock axles simply come up a little short. This is why we continue to see cross-brand pollination with Jeepers across the nation sliding full-float Ford Super Duty axle sets under their Wranglers.
A great execution and example of this can be found with Mike Cox’s 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. No stranger to the off-road hobby, Cox knew that in order to run his 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers without fear of breaking on the trail, the semi-float Dana 44s had to get the boot. For those living near Clemson, South Carolina, Cox’s is well known in the off-road community. Why? Well, he loves off-roading so much that he dedicated part of his property for wheeling.
His man-made rock gardens are so challenging and fun they have become part of the annual Clemson 4Wheel Center poker run. We recently got a chance to check out his private off-road venue. While there, we also got to ogle over his super-clean Wrangler build that was recently wrapped up by Cox’s friend and expert wrench Cole Conner.
To get the Jeep feeling a bit faster post the 1-ton axle swap, a Ripp supercharger was attached to the stock 3.6L. This intercooled XL version has the altitude pulley and offers a nice bump in torque and horsepower. Also sharing room in the engine bay is a dual battery kit from Genesis Offroad, which uses two YellowTop batteries.
Despite how absolutely spotless the JK’s body looks, one peek at the undercarriage and you can tell this is no mall crawler. Protecting the stock NAG1 automatic and 241OR transfer case is a full aluminum belly pan from GenRight. The front suspension setup is comprised of a 3-link with track bar using custom control arms attached to GenRight Elite series crossmembers.
Out back, the triangulated four-link secures the Sterling 10.5-inch rear axle in place. While the full-float axle is still running the stock axleshafts for now, they now get their marching orders from 5.38 differential gears and an ARB Air Locker. Just like the front, an Artec axle truss was welded on the F-250 axles. There’s also a 52-tooth tone ring kit, so the ABS and ESP still work as they should.
The Super Duty sourced high-pinion Dana 60 is stuffed with a matching 5.38 gearset and ARB Air Locker. The axleshafts have been upgraded with RCV Performance CV’s, however. The steering is a mix of an Artec steering kit with a PSC Big Bore hydro-assist system and Reid Racing knuckles.
Locked In Grapplers
Providing the right balance of on and off-road performance are 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers wrapped around 17x8.5 Trail Ready HD beadlocks. This 40-inch mud-terrain radial has become a go-to tire for many in the Jeep world as the load-range C Trail Grappler has proven to be extremely durable in the dirt and very plush on the tarmac. The combo with the 4-inch backspaced wheels keeps the Jeep very wide and stable in the dirt.
From tip to tail, you’ll find a mix of steel and aluminum body protection from GenRight. This mix of paint and powder coated armor plating keeps the Jeep looking clean and well protected. The GenRight fenders also play a big role in keeping the preferred low-lift, big tire stance.
Thanks in part to a large wheelwell from the factory, JK’s allow for a very large tire with a low amount of lift. Cox’s Wrangler is running 3.5 Metal Cloak coil springs with custom length Fox 2.0 Adventure series reservoir shocks at each corner. While the Rubicon does come with the handy electronic sway bar disconnect from the factory, Cox opted for a set of front and rear Antirock sway bars for his roll control needs.
Since upper control arms now occupy the space were the original gas tank used to reside, a GenRight 36-gallon fuel tank was bolt in behind the rear axle. While Cox’s Nitto Tires have been trouble free, he wisely added a GenRight tire carrier out back just in case he or one of his wheeling buddies needs a spare.
Of course, no off-road rig is complete without a recovery winch. Opting for the Warn 9.5 CTI, Cox has a quick-spooling recovery tool ready to go whenever he needs it. Adding a little extra glow are set of aftermarket LED headlights.
While the inside of the Jeep remains largely stock, there are a few key upgrades. Gone is the original head unit and in its place is a much larger touchscreen from Alpine. To control his lockers and ARB twin air compressor, an sPOD control module was also added in.
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