A tribute to my Jeep
A few weeks ago I posted about the dilemma I had about trading my 2012 JK Rubicon for a Fiat Abarth. The itch has been there for the last 6 months or so. The trade would have cost me $0, but after driving the car around, it just didn’t make a lot of since to me. Last week I found something that was a bit more appealing,
The JK was my daily driver for most of the 3 and ½ years and 44K miles that I owned it. There was some downtime when I was working on the modifications, but for the most part, it was driven every day. I put quite a bit of money into the Jeep, but I also spent quite a bit of time wheeling all around the PNW and Moab, Utah.
The JK had all of the suspect modifications, slightly lifted, 37” tires, axle modifications to handle the big tires, steel bumpers, a winch, rock sliders, and under body protection… etc. It did have one pretty unique modification that made it stand out from all of the other JK mall crawlers. That was the stretched rear suspension. I used some off-the-shelf long control arms with custom shock towers that went through the floor and replaced the rear seat. It really added a lot of character, increased the stability on and off road, but decreased the rear storage capacity.
Over the last few years the Jeep has been pretty reliable and it never left me stranded. It only had a few issues… I killed a power steering pump, broke a front axle shaft and twisted one of the rear axle tubes. Those may sound like uncommon repairs, but keep in mind this thing was jumped and pushed through some of the hardest trails on the west coast. I was also able to do a field repair or limp home after each occurrence.
My love of Jeeping is definitely still with me, but DDing the JK was losing its appeal. I loved “not giving a shit” about door dings or curbing the wheels. I could take short-cuts over curbs and park wherever the Jeep would fit. With the 3.6, it had plenty of power so that wasn’t the real issue. But… It wasn’t really refined. While the power was okay, it certainly wouldn’t win any races. Getting the tires re-balanced every 3K miles was annoying (especially since my local Discount Tire is crazy busy with 2+ hour wait times). My girlfriend couldn’t stand how noisy it was and it also didn’t carry much stuff. Most of all, it was looking pretty beat up. The only straight panels were the left fender and the hood. The rest of the body had dents from mild to pretty substantial. The paint had also been worked over from all of the tight trails in the woods and had the signature NW pinstriping.
After test driving the Abarth and not being all that impressed I set out to find my next vehicle. My criteria were AWD, manual, fast, and fun. I test drove a few vehicles that fit the criteria and landed in a 2016 STI. The 2016 Golf R was a close second, but didn’t have as much fun factor and probably wouldn’t hold its value compared to the STI. It also helped that the dealership gave me $24K for a jeep that had practically been to the moon and back.
It was a sad day and I miss the Jeep after a week, but the new ride is a lot of fun on a day to day basis. I know I can’t stay away from a Jeep because I love going off-road, rock crawling and I have a hard time not tinkering around with things. I plan to get into an older TJ or something similar in the next few months. The next dilemma is if I will get rid of my beloved E36 M3 to support my Jeep habit.
Here are some photos from my Jeep adventures
Crawling boulders at Walker Valley ORV Park
Muddy Trails at Evan’s Creek
Snow fun at Tonga Ridge
The infamous Helldorado trail at BFE in Moab
Trying to avoid too much Body Damage in the crack at the Funny Rocks
On the way up to Hawkins Mine
The aftermath of a nasty mud hole with no top on
Looking over the edge of the Cliff Hanger trail in Moab
A few pictures of the suspension setup