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Vehicle of the Week - Jeep JKU Sport Firecracker Red

custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-jw-speaker-6145-led-fog-lights-176939For the last update, you may have noticed our new Hydro Blue JKU Sport. We're excited to say that this vehicle sold in record time, and we're sure the owner will be nothing short of amazed with the build quality and capabilities of this Jeep. The second Jeep, briefly mentioned in last week's post, is a 2016 Firecracker Red Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Sport. We chose a different look for this build; while the Hydro Blue JKU features a standard AEV package, this Jeep was loaded down with a full Maximus-3 and Hard-Rock build package. The Hard-Rock is the highest trim option available on a Jeep Wrangler JK or JK Unlimited, even above that of the Rubicon. The Rubicon Hard-Rock features unique rock sliders, modular front and rear bumpers, and special wheels, among other accessories. While this certainly makes the Hard-Rock eye-catching, a standard Hard-Rock is about $5,000 higher than a standard Rubicon, making the price eye-catching as well.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-aev-dualsport-sc-3-5-inch-suspension-176939Fortunately, MOPAR offers the bumpers found on the Hard-Rock, and a company called Maximus-3 manufactures a full line of accessories, such as stinger hoops and tire carriers, for these factory bumper systems. Unlike older models, the current generation OEM Jeep bumpers have been unable to accept a winch without modification since the 2007 redesign. Maximus-3 and the Hard-Rock JK platform address these problems, providing winch-ready bumpers, as well as several winch-related products, such as fairleads, winch mounting plates, and winch-hook anchors.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-maximus-3-classic-hoop-176939The Hard-Rock bumpers and sliders are far superior to the OEM equipment found on the Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon packages, and are no doubt on many a new owner's mind when going Jeep shopping for the first time. However, the premium price associated with these accessories may cause many to discount ever owning such a Jeep. We decided to kit this JKU Sport out with some Maximus-3 upgrades, and since we've recently had some Hard-Rock JK's come through the shop for work, we had a set of these unique rock rails and wheels around the shop as well. As you can see, when coupled with an AEV lift kit and a set of 35" mud-tires, this build package transforms a JK Sport from a standard mall-crawler to an off-road machine.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-baja-designs-lighting-on-176939For starters, this Wrangler Sport is equipped with an AEV 3.5" DualSport SC Suspension and 35x12.50x17 BFG KM2 Mud-Terrain Tires on OEM Hard-Rock Wheels. We did use wheel spacers to offset the 35's, since the stock 17x9 Hard-Rock wheels lacked the offset to run this tire size without rubbing. The MOPAR Hard-Rock bumper and Maximus-3 setup allow this JKU Sport to accept a Warn Zeon 8s Synthetic Rope Winch. The Maximus-3 accessories featured on the front bumper include the winch-mount, black fairlead, red winch hook anchor, d-ring mounts, and fog light brackets, as well as a bumper hoop to protect the grille and winch from trail damage.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-recon-smoked-tail-lightst-176939The rear MOPAR hard-rock bumper was equipped with an AEV tire-carrier, to carry the larger 35" tires. The OEM tailgate will not support a tire larger than 33" for an extended period of time. Eventually, the tailgate latching mechanism and hinges will become damaged, as the excessive weight of the tire will pull the tailgate away from the body. Hence, the need for an aftermarket tire carrier. While there are many aftermarket tire carriers to choose from, the AEV option fits directly to the MOPAR hard-rock bumper, and along with the hard-rock rock rails, gives this Jeep JKU a nice OEM look, with a hint of ruggedness.

custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-alea-bentley-leather-rubitrux-headrestcustom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-alea-bentley-leathercustom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-alea-bentley-leather-rear-passengerOn the interior, we've added the Alpine X009-Wra headunit, giving the driver a larger screen for GPS, radio, and entertainment options. A full set of red GraBars have also been added, to help with entering and exiting the vehicle, as this JKU is several inches taller than stock. Some owners forget that in addition to the lift kit, larger tires add to the height of the vehicle as well. For example, on this Sport you have 3.5" plus the increase from 32" to 35" tires, which comes out to about 5" in total. While this may not look like much on paper, hauling yourself up into a taller vehicle day after day can become tiring, so the GraBars are a welcome addition! Other interior upgrades include a full custom leather interior by Alea Leather, and a painted interior bezel/trim piece set in firecracker red, to match the OEM paint.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-painted-interior-trim-176939For lighting, this Jeep has a pair of Baja Designs XL Pro Auxiliary Lights, JW Speaker 8700 Evolution 2 LED headlights, Recon LED taillights, smoked turn signals, side markers, and JW Speaker 6145 J Series Fog Lights. A 50" LED light bar by Baja Designs is mounted to the top of the windshield by a pair of Rock Slide Engineering brackets, and an SPOD 6 Switch System controls all of the aftermarket lighting from an easy to reach position inside the cab.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-grabars-front-176939

custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-grabars-rear-176939Other aftermarket accessories include a two-tone AEV Heat Reduction Hood, ensuring that the 3.6L has plenty of ventilation, especially for those days at the beach during the summertime heat! The two-tone Wildboar Aggressive Hawkeye Grille gives this Sport a unique and stylish appearance, and the two-tone paint-job goes well with the AEV hood. The lower half of the Hawkeye grille also blends in with the OEM fender flares and the dark colors of the bumper, fairlead, wheels and tires, providing a great transition among the colors on the front-end.custom-jeep-wrangler-firecracker-red-jw-speaker-8700-evolution-2-led-headlights-176939If you like our new Sport builds, let us know! We've sold both the Hydro Blue and this Firecracker Red, and have a third one on the way! As mentioned before, the Sport lacks the popular factory upgrades found on our usual Rubicon builds, but if you're looking for a daily driver or a high-end Jeep that can still hit moderate trails, one of our Sport builds may be for you!

4 thoughts on “Vehicle of the Week - Jeep JKU Sport Firecracker Red”

  • dylan

    Were the gears changed for the increased tire size?

  • Chris

    In addition to the gear change, is that the factory Dana 30 still up front? I think you said this was a Sport originally.

    Just curious because I've heard that the Dana 30's require significant "beefing" to live long with 35" or greater tires.

    I know there are gusset kits as well as tube reinforcement kits for the 30, but with all of that you're almost to the price of a stock 44, which may be a better base point for off road upgrades.

    Reason I'm asking is I have a Sahara with a 30 and am trying to decide stock 30, built 30, or swap to 44.


    • Ben Brendle
      Ben Brendle 05/30/2017 at 6:58 am

      We always recommend starting with a 44 front and rear. 98% of our builds are Rubicons. You can beef up a stock 30 but at the end of the day those gears are the same size. If the customer wants it we will do 35s on a 30. We do not sell turnkey ones with over a 35 generally. The money you put into a 30 to regear and "beef" it up is not worth it, you might as well go with a 44.

      Hope this answers your question.

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