Steampunk Jeep: Rat Rod Meets Wrangler
What do you get when you mix a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport, WWII bomber, rat rod and a touch of steampunk flare?
Well, you get the Jeep JK you see here, affectionately known as Ruf-Nek. The idea for Ruf-Nek hatched in the mind of Davis Speight of Starwood Motors. Starwood is known for turning out some incredible turn-key Jeep Wrangler JKs and is one of the largest dealers in the nation to offer modified JKs for purchase.
When Speight spotted an old and well-worn pickup truck at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada, he knew he needed to create something with that sort of patina and flare. The inspired Speight captured dozens of images of the tarnished truck and brought them back to the Dallas, Texas, shop, where paint experimentation began using the Starwood Motors Signature Finish. Speight wanted the Kevlar-infused protective coating to look old and weathered. Once the paint-on patina was mastered, Speight was ready to bring the steampunk rat rod Jeep JK to fruition, which required three months of long days and sleepless nights.
We took a trip to Texas to get a closer look at the one-off Jeep:
The wood, aluminum and leather-trimmed door panels and console were the result of a collaboration between Kyle Hix and Tyson Lamb. Other interior bits include an Alpine 9-inch Restyle head unit and red LED trimmed Focal speakers. Red LED lights also accent the whole interior, giving off an ominous glow at night.
On the exterior you’ll find custom tube fenders and sheet metal body skins that have been attached with vintage-looking round-head rivets. The entire body was hosed in a Starwood Motors Signature Finish, which then received the patina treatment. Many people think the top has been chopped a few inches. It hasn’t. The windshield frame is unmolested and rests in the factory location. For the side-mounted straight-pipe exhaust to work, the frame had to be C-notched and reinforced. The right rolling stock is critical on a high-horse street Jeep, so Speight loaded up the satin black 20x10 KMC XD 129 aluminum wheels with 35x12.50R20 Nitto Terra Grappler G2 all-terrain tires. In addition, each wheel received an anodized center cap and rust colored accent ring.
Out back, the tailgate has been converted to be a drop-down pickup style tailgate, complete with clanky retention chains. You’ll also find a Shrockworks rear bumper, submerged LED taillights and an Alpine backup camera mounted just over the factory trailer hitch.
Leading the Jeep is Shrockworks stubby front bumper that was modified for a Warn 8274-50 winch. A red Factor 55 ProLink replaced the original winch hook and real Edison lightbulbs were fitted into the headlight assemblies. The Poison Spyder louvered hood panel works with a custom aluminum radiator to dissipate underhood heat.
The factory coil-spring suspension was ditched and replaced with a driver-adjustable Airock airbag suspension from Off Road Only. Both stock front and rear axle assemblies were retained. However, each housing was fitted with heavy-duty Nitro axleshafts and 4.10 Nitro gears. The front brakes were upgraded with 13.5-inch Baer rotors and six-piston calipers, while the rear axle was fitted with Baer 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers.
A rat rod Jeep clearly has to have proper motivation, so Starwood Motors tossed the original 3.6L Pentastar V-6 in the garbage and replaced it with a 392ci Chrysler Hemi V-8 crate motor. Other than Borla headers and an open element air cleaner, the 485hp 6.4L is stock, and more than enough motor to make the Jeep get up and go. The throaty V-8 is mated to the original Jeep NAG1 five-speed automatic transmission thanks to a factory V-8 bellhousing and torque converter.
The interior is reminiscent of what you would find in one of the steampunk vehicles from the Wild Wild West Will Smith movie. The leather-trimmed artisan interior was inspired by a motorcycle seat built by Kyle Hix of HIX Design fame, so Speight brought Kyle on to lay down the leather. Jamey Jordan fabricated the stainless steel bomber seats and a modified Poison Spyder rollcage was installed to protect the occupants. Each seat is padded with Hix Design leather bits. The factory seatbelts were retained.
Hix Design wrapped the steering wheel and much of the plastic dashboard in real leather. An Alpine 9-inch Restyle head unit sends tunes to the LED-lit Focal speakers.
The center console received the wood, leather and metal treatment. Red LED lights are hidden under the rails of the faux patina metalwork.
To check out the full collection of Starwood Motors Jeeps, be sure to visit Starwoodmotors.com.