08 JK Unlimited Rubicon Overland Project

j1I traded Ultimate Weekend  Warrior project for a 2008 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon (6-Speed) in the fall of 2011 because I wanted more space for my weekend projects and a Jeep for long distance overlanding.

It wasn’t really something I was planning on doing but a great deal came up and I basically traded one for one plus $2000… Not bad.. I even kept the winch off the TJ. The Jeep was cheap because you could tell it had a weird previous life. It had a new factory JK front bumper, 2 inch spacer lift, bald JK Rubicon tires and the fenders that showed tire rub. So obviously this jeep had bigger tires and off-roaded at some point. And it only had 47,000km on it! All great for me because I planned on modifying all those things.


It needed new tires right away so I went to work on planning and ordering parts. 3 months later and a month of taking the bus it was setup:

Phase 1:j1

  • AEV 3.5 Dual Sport SC Kit
  • AEV Pintler 17×8.5″ wheels
  • 315x70x17 Micky Thompson MTZ (35s)
  • 10 Factory 4340 Chromoly Alloy Front Axles
  • ARB front Bumper with Warn 9.5ti / rope
  • AEV Snorkel
  • SuperChip TrailDash
  • IPF Lights
  • Teraflex rear hinge


Phase 2 was to prepare it more for Overlanding and I had planned to start that a year later. It would entail adding a roof rack, roof top tent, fridge, water storage, rocker protection and re-gear to 4.56 or 4.88 gears.

j3I was very happy with the outcome of Phase 1. The Jeep handled very well and I think looked amazing. The only change was I replaced the leaky Bilstein shocks to Rancho RS9100XL to get better control of the seasonal changes here. It worked and I’d recommend the Ranchos to anyone running a JK.

Off-road the Jeep performed well but it doesn’t feel like a TJ, Yj or CJ. It is hard to describe but it feels very smooth almost too smooth. Great on fire roads, back country road and winter wheeling but when you get into the technical trails I find the Jeep just feels disconnected from the end user. I think it is a combination of the weight, fly by wire accelerator, suspension and length. It isn’t bad… just different..

On-road the Jeep was well mannered. And considering it had 35s stock 4.11 gears it performed and only struggled going uphill in 6th gear. No problem though you just down gear to 5th. It was certainly the most comfortable I’d been on longer trips in a Jeep but certainly not as comfortable as a our Mazda CX-5 that we used most times.


But like so many long terms plans this one was going to change. I got married, had kids, bought a cottage, and soon the idea of overlanding was still there but not today maybe later in life when the kids are older. Going ahead with Phase 2 just didn’t make sense and while I really liked the Jeep it wasn’t the best for my current life style. I didn’t love it off-road either it just felt big, heavy and not really connected to the end user. I really would rather just have a TJ for wheeling. Maybe a 2 door JK?

The other thing was I kept wanting to buy things for the Jeep I didn’t need. It was almost torture having a half completed Jeep but not really have a reason to finish it.

j5In the fall of 2014 I traded it in for a 2011 Grand Cherokee Overland v8 (on 32 inch Duratracs)

I’ve never owned a car so nice.. It isn’t a Jeep (even so it technically is) and I will have a proper Jeep again. (hopefully something similar to my old 98 TJ). But for right now the WK2 fits my needs much better and I’m looking forward to seeing what I build next!