Several months back I began thinking seriously about changing directions with my 2009 Sahara Unlimited. As it sat, still fairly impressive, it still didn't satisfy me as much as I had hoped. It was clearly missing that special something. Being no stranger to taking one vehicles initial platform and altering it into something most only dream of has been a passion of mine with most every vehicle I own. In fact, other than my daily driver, none of the other cars or motorcycles I own are near the stock configuration I purchased them in.
I decided that I was either going to take the Jeep to an extreme next step or I'd likely feel like selling it.
And so the transformation began...
I researched all the kits out there to have a 5.7L Hemi engine transplanted into the Jeep and fell into the most bit of comfort with the package from Burnsville Offroad. With some advice from Dan at BOR, we decided on the truck motor which put out a slightly better torque curve and cooling than the kits designed around using the car engines. The kit was installed by a local guy to me in SC who generally specializes in the restoration of world class old Mopars bringing easy 6 figure sums.
The path was not easy but today I took possession of "NIGHTMARE" back. The name chosen for this rig has dual meaning to me. Mainly named after my first mildly modified 1994 Jeep I sported in High School and secondly after the various trials and tribulations we encountered along the way.
The shop took hundreds of photos along the way but I have yet to procure them from them yet. I did manage to snap this picture today of the engine bay while taking delivery. I promise many more pics as I get the time to clean the jeep up. I had the doors and top off the jeep while it's been in the shop and it's dusty as all hell.
The power difference is astounding. Going from a meager V6 that pushed 35" mud grapplers through a puny 3.73 gear ratio via automatic transmission to a 400 HP 5.7L is night a day.
Here is a small sound clip I took driving home from the shop in the stop and go of rush hour traffic.
As you can clearly hear, this Jeep is now anything but ordinary now. The improvements, as awesome as they proved to be, simply weren't going to be enough. I already went to this extreme so I might as well have gone a bit further. I broke out the plastic and made Northridge, quadratec, river raider, and a few other vendors all a bit richer. I decided to scrap the toothpick front Dana 30 for a prorock 44 fitted with 5.13 gears, ARB locker, RCV shafts etc...
This was the minimum piece of mind to handle the 40" Maxxis Trepador tires I also had ordered which were being mated to ATX wheels. I also ordered the matching 5.13 rear gearing with ARB locker for the back Dana 44. Rounding out the new look, I ordered up RROR Crusher corners powder coated black. I have the flat fenders from RROR and their build quality is superb. Gaining the proper clearance for the massive new tires was not going to be an easy decision but I believe I chose wisely. The nod went to Rock Krawler and their 5.5 X factor long arm coil over kit. It is Way off the stupidly cool scale and more than ample than almost anything made for the JK. Like most new purchases, one item rolls out the need for another item and in this instance it was the driveshafts. Both front and rear shafts and yokes were going to be upgraded to Tom Woods. The stock transfer case is being scrapped for the Atlas 3.8 unit. I'm likely leaving something out but this thread is far from completion.
We decided to take the Jeep home and shake loose any odd bugs for a week before they commence with the installation of the parts mentioned above. I'm hoping to debut Nightmare at GULCHFEST in mid october. As I upload more photos and progress, I will happily share these updates with you all.
I'm excited to see how this project turns out but thanks to the Hemi, it's off to a magnificent start.