Riding in the passenger seat of Chet Kokkeler’s white LS-powered JKU as it effortlessly climbed over boulders on a rugged trail high in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, it was hard to imagine that 15 months earlier, this agile, powerful Jeep was nothing more than a stripped tub sitting on a bare frame in the corner of a Midwest auto salvage yard.
Chet’s 2014 Wrangler “Limitless” was once someone’s pride and joy before it was totaled, sent to a salvage yard, and stripped bare. Now that it’s been reborn, it showcases how some of the best aftermarket parts in the country can transform the bare bones of a Jeep into comfortable daily driver with limitless trail-riding possibilities. Bringing it all together was neither easy nor cheap. Its rebirth started when the 42-year-old owner of an Oregon landscape design and construction company decided he wanted a Jeep that was more versatile and comfortable than his LS-powered ’78 CJ-7. He also wanted a JK that he and his family could drive every day and enjoy year-round.
A couple years ago, Chet turned to Dunks Performance in Springfield, Oregon, to help build his first Jeep—the CJ-7. As cool as that one was, it was built for playing in the massive Oregon Dunes, not for a family of four to take on long road trips and off-road adventures like the Rubicon, Moab, and other destinations he had in mind. This time around, Chet took a different approach altogether. He found the stripped tub/chassis on Craigslist and had it delivered to the shop. Dunks literally started from scratch and built a brand-new JKU from the frame up.
Strong & Agile
The bent frame and body were separated, the frame was straightened and powdercoated black, and the body was painted white. A 430hp Chevrolet High Performance LS3 crate engine and 4L70E four-speed automatic combo was dropped into place. That was followed by installing an Advance Adapters Atlas 3.8:1 transfer case to channel the GM power to the Dana Ultimate 60s at both ends via custom Adams Driveshafts fitted with 1350 U-joints. The 5.38:1 axle gearing, ARB Air Lockers at both ends, and Atlas T-case provide a wide range of gearing and traction options on the trail, and more than enough torque to handle the 40×13.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grappler M/Ts wrapped around 17×10-inch Raceline AL Monster ST beadlock rims.
This Jeep’s agility and smooth ride on- and off-road comes from EVO Manufacturing’s High Clearance Long Arm PRO suspension augmented with the company’s Double ThrowDown EVOlever suspension system in back with horizontal-mounted King coilover/bypass shocks. Dunks also installed Off Road Only’s manual SwayLOC dual-rate antisway bar system, giving Chet’s JK a full 14 inches of suspension travel on trails and perfect ride control on-road.
Sounds & Safety
Being safe and secure was at the forefront of Chet’s goal in having is dream JK built, so Dunks enlisted the MIG welding expertise of Epic Suspension’s David Obie to put the GenRight Offroad full rollcage together and mount it to the frame. GenRight’s aluminum dash and center console were also installed to replace the originals that were stripped out when the JK was in the salvage yard.
After the cage, dash, and console were in place, Eric Dunks handled the task of installing the Dakota Digital dash cluster, sPOD controller, Rigid LED lighting—and a Lowrance HDS-9m Gen2 GPS chartplotter mounted in the passenger side of the dash. He also installed the Vintage Air A/C and heating system to keep everyone comfortable year-around.
Then, John Risseuw of Brad’s Car Tunes dove in to handle the custom installation of a 600-watt JVC/Kicker sound system and fabricated fiberglass enclosures for the hidden subwoofers under the rear seats. For comfort, Chet selected PRP’s extra-wide, heated Enduro bucket seats front and rear, which are complemented by Crow Enterprizes’ four-point harnesses.
Dunks finished off the long project build by bolting on Poison Spyder Brawler bumpers at both ends, fitting the front one with a Warn Zeon 10K winch, and customizing the JK’s hood with a Poison Spyder louvre to help keep the engine bay cooler during the summer months.
A 50-inch Rigid Industries lightbar above the windshield, a half dozen rock lights, and a pair of LED Duallys handle lighting for the night trail rides, while Poison Spyder and EVO inner fender shields keep the engine bay protected from debris slung up from the 40s. Chet also had Rock Slide Engineering’s combo rock slider/power steps installed to make getting in and out of the tall JKU easier for the family.
The finishing touches included a Smittybilt cargo box, Poison Spyder high-clearance fenders, and a special Gator Step tailgate cover with the Dunks Performance logo as a special thanks to those that labored for more than a year to bring it all together.
Why This Jeep?
There are thousands of really cool Jeep Wrangler JKUs running the trails and cruising the highways. But it’s not often you find one that has been stripped of everything, left for dead, and then completely brought to back life with top-shelf aftermarket parts. Limitless is the perfect example of a second-chance Jeep.
Vehicle: 2014 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited
Engine: 430hp GM High Performance LS-3 6.2L V-8
Transmission: GM High Performance 4L70E automatic
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas 3.8:1
Suspension: Evo Manufacturing Double ThrowDown EVOlever system, EVO long arms, King coilover/bypass shocks, Off Road Only SwayLOC sway-bar disconnect
Axles: Dana Ultimate 60s front and rear, 5.38 ARB Air Lockers in both
Wheels: 17×10-inch Raceline AL Monster ST beadlock
Tires: Nitto 40×13.50R17 Ridge Grappler M/T