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Jeep Wrangler

By Stuart Grant, 12 Apr 2011 Custom 4x4s

Modified Jeep Wrangler

Double Black Offroad threw the book at this Jeep and it looks just the ticket.

Double Black Offroad threw the book at this Jeep and it looks just the ticket.

Arriving at the Melbourne 4X4 Training and Proving Ground to meet with Bill Barbass from Double Black Offroad (DBOR) to photograph his modified JK Jeep, it’s difficult to see the vehicle for the scrum of ambulance officers who are paying more attention to the black off-roader than their own training course.

No wonder; the vehicle has more presence than Darth Vader, and looks twice as mean.

Bill’s JK is a rolling advertisement for his business, tricked up with lots of goodies that Bill imports purely for Jeeps. Fed up with feeling ripped-off by the aftermarket for Jeep products in Australia, Bill decided to establish Double Black Offroad in 2009 to cater specifically for the Jeep enthusiast.

DBOR’s aim is to provide quality products at a reasonable price, and, judging by the enthusiasm of the assembled ambos, Bill’s showpiece JK is a real head turner. Having previously owned a GU Patrol, Bill still wanted live axles, but a convertible appealed so that he could take his family touring, as well as indulge in some occasional hardcore off-roading.

In Bill’s opinion, nothing comes close.

And so, to the beast itself. Under the bonnet resides a stock 2.8-litre CRD diesel donk, coupled to a standard five-speed auto. The only modification under the lid is a Chimebuster so as not to be driven insane by the annoying factory ‘key in ignition’ warning chime. With one of these puppies fitted, the frequency of the chimes can be adjusted or removed completely.

The vehicle stands tall on 37-inch Procomp Extreme mud terrains with AEV Beadlock rims. The front suspension consists of live-axle PolyPerformance Synergy System, giving 115mm of lift. It features adjustable control arms and Panhard rod, progressive springs and long-travel shocks. Extended braided brake lines, a chromoly tie rod, track bar and steering stabiliser relocation brackets take care of the rest of the front-end suspension mods, all from PolyPerformance.

Rear suspension is also Synergy, including all adjustable arms and track bar relocation brackets. Shock mounts are modified to give an additional 50mm clearance. Extended braided brake lines and swaybar links complete the package. The transfer case is a Rubicon Rocktrac with a 4.1 ratio and the front driveshaft has been extended to cope with the extra lift. The tail shaft is standard.

A PolyPerformance D30 front diff with inner axle sleeves and C gussets for extra strength takes care of getting the power down at the front, running a 4.88 ratio coupled with an ARB Air Locker and ARB diff hat. The rear diff is similarly equipped with cogs, locker and more protective ARB headwear.

Stopping power is provided by grooved rotors with Hawk brake pads on all four wheels, and the road ahead is lit with Lightforce HID 140s mounted on the A-pillars.

Protection up front is provided by a PolyPerformance front bar with King of the Hammers hoop, while Poly rock sliders and a Warn 9000lb winch with rope on Poly Fairlead help with recovery from sticky positions. A Poly rear bar with swing-away carrier for the 37-inch spare sits on the back of the rig and there’s a rear door strut, developed by DBOR to prevent the rear door from swinging wildly when the vehicle is perched on an angle.

For extra storage, a Baja Basket fits neatly into the rear cargo area, offering an extra tier for packing the essentials for a trip to the bush. Also helping preserve interior space, a hi-lift jack resides on brackets mounted on the bonnet and to cope with the increased ride height, grab handles are fitted inside the doors to help haul oneself in.

Rounding out the package and adding to the vehicle’s tough visual appeal are unbreakable flared guards fitted with inset indicator lenses and a Safari snorkel. A GME 3400 remote-head UHF takes care of communications, backed-up by additional hand-held units.

All these modifications make for one tough looking and capable off-roader, with the latter quality demonstrated during our photo shoot. For anyone wishing to trick-up their Jeep, DBOR is a good starting point.