Miami Beach JK Wrangler Built for the Stars
Inspiration for customizing cars, trucks, and off-road Jeeps can come in many forms. And when those inspirations include Lazer Dogs, Alien Abductions, and Big Wheeled Jeeps? Well, the only explanation for that combination would be…Florida. It all makes sense.
Jeep Beach Bound
A few years ago, the crew at Synergy MFG decided to broaden their rock crawling and race Jeep horizons and headed east to the largest Jeep-only event on the sandy shores of Daytona Beach, Florida for Jeep Beach. What they witnessed seemed to be straight out of an alien encounter. Not only did the Florida nightlife, vibrant colors, and flashy style make an impression on them, but the style of the Jeeps they saw did as well.
With barely any elevation in Florida beyond the height of a Miami skyscraper, Floridians will take to the sand and the streets to enjoy their lifted Jeeps. Being from the Central Coast of California however, the guys at Synergy could relate, as spots such as the Pismo Beach Dunes are close by. But their off-road playground also extends to Johnson Valley, the Northern Sierras, Baja, and Moab of course. It is at all of these off-roading meccas that Synergy MFG develops and tests their off-road suspension and other products.
Once they were back home on the west coast, the crew at Synergy MFG seemed to almost telepathically all agree that they needed to showcase their parts and talents in a way that would not only fit in with the Miami Jeep scene but catch everyone’s attention. To do so, they would need to go light years beyond their normal build style; while still maintaining their reputation for off-road function and quality parts.
Built for Work, Rock & Street
Synergy MFG has been based out of the Central Coast of California in San Luis Obispo since 2005. They turned a distribution hub into an off-road manufacturing and customizing empire. They specialize in heavy-duty off-road suspension, steering, and fab parts for Jeeps, HD Ram, and Ford trucks, as well as the new Ford Bronco. By 2022, with the Jeep JL and JT Gladiator platforms firmly established, Synergy’s tried and true workhorse 2016 JK was due to be put out to pasture. But with their Miami synth wave inspiration taking control; it was decided to beam new life into the Jeep.
The Jeep had done its time as a shop rig, not only around town but was used to develop and test several of their JK suspension and steering kits. They had no reservations that with a few more upgrades it could easily handle all of the terrain they would come across on their cross-country road trips.
But the challenge would lie in the unknown. Transforming the west coast Jeep into a cruising machine that catches attention at every show. Like many unique builds, it was down to the wire finishing it up in time to make its debut drive out to Florida. The transformation was done in 5 weeks leading up to Jeep Beach, allowing for the long drive out there of course.
It had its desired impact at Jeep Beach, not just thanks to a new wrap featuring a retro Miami skyline mixed with UFO abductions and of course, a Lazer Dog but its massive 26-inch Fuel Triton wheels. The wheels had been powder coated using Prismatic purple and blue powder by Lacey Blair of LB Motorsports. All of the Synergy MFG suspension parts were hit with a full spectrum of color and beaming RGB rock lights announced its presence in the Magic City. In true synth wave fashion, artist Torlief Kahrs airbrushed the Currie Dana differential covers with images of faraway planets that the Jeep might have seen on its intergalactic travels.
Further inspired by what may have actually been an alien abduction (or just a dream) of a few of the shop guys at Synergy MFG while at that first Jeep Beach; a metal front bumper and fender flares were installed to prep for the Jeep’s re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Cruising the avenues and beaches of Florida has its own history and its not just about looking good rolling down A1A but sounding good too. After all, what better way to get attention than everyone hearing it pulsing sound down the block? Just days before leaving for its cross-country trek at light speed, a custom wood subwoofer box was CNC cut and built to house 4 12-inch Ground Zero subwoofers powered by 5,000 Watts of audio propulsion by SounDigital amps and 10 speakers to let the sound waves blow out while rolling with the Bestop soft top down.
Dueling Trail Grapplers
Synergy MFG had already fully dialed in the off-road and rock-crawling-inspired suspension on their Jeep JK by running their 6-inch Long Arm Suspension System. The Jeep was initially set up to run a set of 40x15.50-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tires on 20-inch Trail Ready wheels. That combination proved to be solid over the years on all types of terrain and fully perform in the desert, up mountains, and over rocks. The Jeep also served itself well on the street as one of their shop vehicles and test mules.
Synergy’s Sales and Marketing Director Oliver Walshaw put it best saying that “with that suspension and tire setup; driving over obstacles is easy for even for those who haven’t gone off-road before.”
Nitto Trail Grappler tires have an aggressive look and tread yet have a nice ride on the street. “Well, we made the drive cross country!” reported Oliver. The tires are designed to be an aggressive, yet quiet off-roading tire prime for traction over any terrain and weather while keeping the ride smooth on the highway.
The 40-inch Nitto tire setup was perfect when the JK was on the West Coast, having run the mountains of Moab, Utah, the varied areas at Johnson Valley, California during King of the Hammers, and even saw some off-roading in Texas. But showing off in true South Beach style is a set of vibrant 26-inch Fuel Triton wheels. With the build designed to around this size wheel, they did not have to look too far out for tires.
Designed to be a reliable off-roading but street-capable tire on the current setup; Nitto Trail Grapplers made sense when they opted for the massive wheels. They could have kept the overall 40-inch diameter as the off-road setup with those tires, but of course, the goal was to go bigger. The Jeep was reworked with a few slight modifications to ensure that fitting 42x15.50-inch Nitto Trail Grappler tires wouldn’t be an issue when heading from the dirt and sand to the streets.
With its vibrant wrap and powder coating, massive 26-inch rollers, and colored lighting, the Miami Synergy Jeep landed back on the Florida coast with eye-searing results. The Jeep has also made its way to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
As we all know, Jeep folks have a few of their own hand signs and inside jokes. While the Miami JK has been out at shows and even lunch runs, it has been the most photographed Jeep they have built and the most ducked. Yes, it is tradition to place a rubber ducky on a Jeep at meets, and one time in Tennessee at Jeep…..the Synergy guys walked out to the parking lot (maybe from a bar, we don’t know) and could barely see the Lazer Dog’s beaming eyes under hundreds of ducks on the Jeep, nearly 5 trash bags full!
Maybe it was also because they heard that Synergy brewed a limited run of beers honoring the Jeep and handed out cans of Lazer Dog Trail Water beer upon their arrival. To promote that beer and the new JK revamp, a few documentary videos seemed to suddenly pop up on their YouTube channel showing its inspiration and the end result. (Seriously, go check it out on their YouTube channel, it’s funny).
|VEHICLE||2016 Jeep JK Wrangler|
|ENGINE/TRANSMISSION||3.6L V6, Atlas Transmission Pan, JE Reel Front & Rear Drive Shafts|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||Synergy MFG 6-inch Long Arm Suspension System, FOX 2.5 DSC Shocks, PSC Hydro Assist - Synergy Steering, Currie Dana 60 Differential, 40-Spline Axle, Currie Super Duty Hubs, ARB Locker|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Synergy MFG 6-inch Long Arm Suspension System, FOX Shocks, RockJock Anti-Rock Sway Bar, Currie Dana 70 Differential, ARB Locker, 5.38:1 Rear Gears|
|WHEELS||20x9.5-inch Trail Ready Beadlock Wheels (Rock), 26x12-inch Fuel Triton Platinum Wheels (Street)|
|TIRES||40x15.50R20 Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Tires (Rock), 42x15.50R26 Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Tires (Street)|
|BODY||Miami Alien & Lazer Dog Vinyl Wrap by Linson Signs, Bestop Soft Top, Warn Winch, Factor 55 Fairlead, Airbrushed Alien Dif Covers, Prismatic Powders Powder Coating|
|LIGHTS||Baja Designs JK LED Lighting Kit (With Laser Lights of Course), C4-Offroad LED RGB Rock Lights|
|INTERIOR||Color Matched Seat Upholstery, Alpine Restyle JK Head Unit, 4 12-inch Ground Zero Subwoofers, Custom CNC Wood Sub Box, 10 Ground Zero Speakers, 5,000 Watt Total SounDigital Amplifiers Installed by Drive Customs|