Dual-Purpose JK With Travel to Spare
When it comes to building a Jeep Wrangler JK, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. So long as it retains its function as a well-performing off-road vehicle, we’re all about it. Chris Kelly of Irvine, California, wanted his 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon to work well on — and off — road. While that may sound like an easy task, Kelly’s want for more extreme wheeling would mean there would be some serious upgrades required to accomplish his goals.
To get the JK from where it was to where he needed it to be, Kelly enlisted the help of the Jeep experts at Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California. Known for their ability to build hardcore 4x4s that are still very streetable, the EVO crew wasted no time transforming the Kelly’s JK into a true dual — purpose wheeler.
One of the first items addressed on the Jeep was the front bumper. Kelly opted for a high-clearance EVO MFG ¼-pounder winch bumper, which holds the Warn 9.5cti-s winch. For added off-road night vision, a set of ARB Intensity LED lights (one spot, one flood) were added on as well. His daily lighting needs are handled by a set of Truck-Lite LED headlights.
A key component to allow Kelly’s JK to drive fast off-road and maintain a smooth on-road ride is the EVO Double Throw Down shock setup and high-clearance long-arm suspension. This long-travel setup fits the JK with a 12-inch travel King coilover and King 3.0 bypass shock. To make sure the rig can properly cycle the full range of travel, the frame was notched to clear the steering links.
The stock Dana 44 front axle was no match for 40-inch tall tires and brutal wheeling conditions, so it was replaced with a Dynatrac ProRock 60 frontend. Inside of the high-pinion front differential you’ll find 5.38 gears and an ARB Air Locker. To increase the handling, a hydraulic-assist steering system was added from PSC Motorsports.
Since much of Kelly’s wheeling consists of rocky desert conditions, a bevy of skidplates from EVO MFG were added to protect the vitals. Heavy-duty driveshafts from J.E. Reel were fit with 1350 double cardan joints were also built for the front and rear. The stock NVG241OR transfer case was left in place, but it did get a shifter upgrade from Advance Adapters.
Out back, you’ll find a massive ProRock 80 rear axle. This full-float assembly is suspended by an EVO MFG EVO-lever suspension system. The cantilever-style suspension allows for a coilover and bypass shock to be installed horizontally under the cargo area of the Jeep. Doing so not only allows for 14 inches of vertical wheel travel, but you don’t have to sacrifice any cargo room inside of the Jeep.
Additional body protection was added in the form of EVO MFG Rock Skins, corner armor, and sliders. The fender flares are from Poison Spyder Customs.
Inside, the stock leather seats keep riders comfy, while a Rock Hard 4x4 cage is there just in case. Guiding Kelly to where he needs to go is a Lowrance Elite 5m Baja GPS.
Despite retaining the stock V-6 engine and factory-equipped automatic transmission, the Jeep isn’t overly down on power. Kelly was part of the Mel Wade’s 2016 Nitto King of the Hammers support crew and used his JK to get around the lakebed with a quick pace. Overall, it’s hard to top a rig that can truly be as dual-purpose as this.