This Custom Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK Overland Is A Dream Come True

Taking one last look at his Mercedes-Benz sedan, Chris Perron said to the salesman, “I won’t need this once I retire. After 33 years in the military, Chris found himself at a Jeep dealership, ready to trade the rigors of his career (and his sports car) for something more suited to the dirt. To the astonishment of the sales staff, he parted ways with the CLS 550, left the dealership in a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Recon Edition, and never looked back.

Although this was his first all-terrain vehicle, Chris knew he would eventually have a Jeep. It just couldn’t beat the sturdiness of the vehicle and the storage under the hardtop. Once he owned the Wrangler, he methodically modified it to fit his specifications. Chris tweaked the Jeep’s suspension setup, tuned the tires and wheels to its off-road style, increased nighttime visibility, and tuned the cargo area to suit his needs. When complete, the Jeep was a carefully honed tool for exploring far from civilization, and it allowed Chris to travel coast to coast with confidence.

Wheels and Tires

Borah AEV beadlocks keep Chris’ 37-inch BFGoodrich muddy terrains seated no matter how low he chooses to drop his tire pressure.

Cargo on top

Rhino-Rack’s Pioneer Platform is a low-profile solution for storing cargo on top of the Jeep, and it’s paired with the company’s Backbone System that reinforces the interior’s hardtop. Chris sleeps above ground in his James Baroud Explorer roof tent.

LED lights and winch

ARB Intensity driving lights sit low on the front bumper, and Rigid Industries LED modules sit on the hoods, containing forward-facing amber lights. Chris’ stage lights are Rigid Industries LEDs with a red lens for easier viewing in the dark. There’s a Warn Zeon 10-S winch with a FlatLink Factor 55 tucked behind the Rubicon’s stock steel bumper.

Direction and shielding

Front reinforcements include an aluminum tie rod and drag link, an adjustable track bar from JKS Manufacturing and a reinforced differential cover. Rock Hard 4×4 skid plates protect the evap canister, rear differential and other sensitive undercarriage parts, and the company’s transmission crossmember adds additional weight. Chris opted for aluminum skid plates to reduce the suspended weight of his Jeep.

Electronics under the hood

Under the hood, the 3.6-liter V6 shares space with a dual-battery system and a six-switch sPOD relay box. The unit can control up to six circuits with toggle switches, and its design requires only one wire to run into the cab.


Chris chose the Old Man Emu remote-reservoir BP-51 internal bypass shocks that allow him to control the compression and rebound damping. Its coil springs support the Jeep’s load while providing four inches of lift.

Freight organization

Knowing where things are is crucial to Chris, so he worked with OK4WD in Stewartsville, New Jersey, to outfit the Jeep with Goose Gear organization and storage options. There’s room for her fridge/freezer, a pull-out kitchen layout, easy-access drawers and various options for securing extra cargo. All work on the tailgate can be done under easy night vision red LED light.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Recon Edition: Build Details

  • Playground: Sedona, Arizona
  • Manufacturing time: 1 year


  • Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6
  • Transmission: WA580 five-speed automatic
  • Transfer case(s): NP241OR 2-speed
  • Low-end ratio(s): 4.0:1
  • Crawl ratio(s): 70.1
  • Front axle/differential: Dana 44, Yukon Gear & Axle 4.88 speed/electronic storage
  • Rear axle/differential: Dana 44, Yukon Gear & Axle 4.88 speed/electronic storage


  • Front: Old Man Emu BP-51 remote reservoir shocks, Old Man Emu 4-inch coils, JKS Manufacturing track bar; JKS JSPEC Advanced Geometry Upgrade Kit for Jeep JK, Hellwig Anti-Roll Bar
  • Rear: Old Man Emu BP-51 remote reservoir shocks, Old Man Emu 4″ coils, Hellwig anti-roll bar


  • Tyres: 37 x 12.50R17 BFGoodrich T/A KM3 M/T
  • Wheels: 17″ AEV Borah beadlock


  • Steering: Old Man Emu shock absorber
  • Lighting: 9.5-inch ARB Intensity LED Flood Lights, ARB Intensity LED Flood Lights, Rigid Industries SR-Q Series Diffused LED Fixtures, DSS Pro LED Fixtures, and SM D-Series Pro Diff LED Fixtures; AEV CHMSL third brake light; Baja Designs Red and Clear LED Ceiling Lights; Vision X LED light strip, Jeep 279J taillight
  • Armor: Rock Hard 4×4 drivetrain and aluminum skid plates, MetalCloak tubular fenders and fender liners
  • Cool stuff: Warn Zeon 10-S winch, power interrupt kit and Maximus-3 winch mount; Factor 55 FlatLink; sPOD JK six-switch panel; Goose Gear JK 2 door plate system, CampKitchen 2.3 system, double drawer module and cutting board inserted in the drawer; Partner Steel 22-inch propane stove; Manchester 1.5 gal propane tank; ARB 50-quart refrigerator/freezer with tie-down system, hardwiring kit, recovery kit, portable air compressor, hydraulic recovery jack and digital tire pressure gauge; Genesis Offroad G Screen Monitor and JK Dual Drum Kit; Rubicon Express driveshafts; Dynatrac ProGrip braking system; JKS Manufacturing Exhaust Extension Kit; AEV ProCal module, dive system and fuel canister; 67 stand designs for iPhone/GoPro/iPad; weBoost cell booster; Garmin inReach Mini; Maxtrax traction boards and harnesses; Northbound Expeditions GARB and chainsaw bag; STIHL battery chainsaw; Fiskar Axe; Bubba Rope Recovery Kit; Hi-Lift jack; 6 ton bottle jack; Pioneer Rhino-Rack 84×56 inch platform, Backbone 3 and RLCP legs; Alu-Cab Shadow awning and awning mounting kit; James Baroud Explorer Tent

Video series on 4×4 garages! Episode 1: Updating a 1988 Ford Bronco suspension

In episode 1 of the new video series 4×4 garage, host Christian Hazel disassembles the suspension of a 1988 Ford Bronco for a 6-inch Superlift system and dives into the axles to prep them for new 4.88 gears and Eaton TrueTrac differentials to support 37×12 off-road tires. 50R17 Falken A/T3W for impressive performance. Want to see more? Subscribe to the MotorTrend YouTube channel!

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