As our Project Jeep Wrangler draws to a conclusion, we’re tackling the finishing touches and what better way to conclude than with a visit to Goodwinch for something to fill the gap on that front bumper. This called for a conversation with David Bowyer, and thoughts about additional battery power

Words and photography: Matt Carson

DecJeepStartTurn the clock back nearly 30 years and you’ll find David Bowyer putting together what was the UK’s first general magazine dedicated to all things four-wheel drive. Overlander 4×4 was a good idea then, and today that heritage is in the magazine you have in your hands. David’s publication was bought by specialist publisher Link House magazines, and re-named Off Road and 4 Wheel Driver, and David handed over the reins to a young, fresh-faced and even hirsute editor called Nigel Fryatt. Fast forward those thirty years, and the publication is now named 4×4 magazine, it once again has the same editor, and David Bowyer remains in the 4×4 business, proving that he has staying power to add to what is now an enviable and serious level of experience. However, that experience is not in the writing about 4x4s, because David is a ‘doer’, running both off-road driver training courses at his base at Crediton, in Devon, and offering the wide range of off-road equipment now available through his company, Goodwinch. Top of that range are the winches that David has been supplying to the 4×4 scene, which has cemented his reputation. If you want to talk winches, a long conversation with David Bowyer is a must.

With a background like that, David was the obvious choice to find a suitable winch for our Project Wrangler. In making the decision to decide the specification you first have to consider the vehicle’s weight, which for the Jeep Wrangler is about 1450kg, then the intended use you intend to put that vehicle and its winch. In our case, it’s for occasional off-road recovery and greenlaning, plus perhaps pulling the neighbours out of the ditch, should they get it all wrong this coming winter! These were the factors that we told David, to determine the required type of winch rating needed for our vehicle.

This month we visit Profusion Customs, largest importer and stockist of Magnaflow exhausts in Europe and official UK stockist.  It’s an exhausting business, but the Jeep’s all the better for the visit

Words and photography: Matt Carson

NovJeepStartProfusion Customs is the type of company I like to deal with; a family business with a strong emphasise on customer service. The team are true specialists in that they only deal with exhausts and only sell market leading Magnaflow exhaust products.  So often nowadays, companies profess to specialise in everything!  Which, in my opinion, demeans the term specialist. A peek into Profusions stock room confirms this fact, it’s floor to ceiling packed with exhausts and all the necessary fitting components.

After a warm welcome to the comfortable and modern premises near Heathrow, the Jeep is up on the ramp and along with the Profusion crew of Raj, Jag and Ash, we all take a look at the crusty mess that is the stock Jeep exhaust system. Most likely all original, the exhaust has done well to last 14 years but is no longer at its best. The silencer is blowing slightly and no doubt half full of rusty flakes, while the tight pinched turns of the system no doubt rob power and hamper performance. The replacement exhaust that Profusion will fit aims to release these valuable extra horsepower and present a much smoother flowing exhaust, which in turn will also improve torque and fuel economy. 

Profusion supplies Magnaflow exhausts in a direct fit, pre-bent format or as individual components. This flexibility allows you to create an exhaust just how you want it. Multiple exits, side exits, louder, quieter – you get the idea. It also means Profusion can create an exhaust for any vehicle. If you’re handy with the spanners you can do it yourself as Profusion can also supply all the extras such as their excellent heavy duty clamps, hangers, bends, catalysers and more. The thought of more horsepower, improved torque and economy are hard to resist, so let’s get started…

The TJ is really coming together now, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves and overlook the basics, and with that in mind this month we visit G-force Autos based in Halifax for a thorough mechanical check over and service.

Words and photography: Matt Carson

OctJeepG-force is a relatively new company, but has quickly become established, and gained a well-deserved reputation for selling, servicing and supplying Jeep accessories. G-force is a Rugged Ridge accessories premier dealer and Skyjacker Suspension main dealer and can order in just about anything you might want for your Jeep. What marks G-force out is that they also maintain a comprehensive stock of bumpers, suspension and the more popular accessories, therefore minimising any shipping delay from the USA.

Proprietor of G-force Autos, Trevor Taylor, is a long time Jeep fan and he and his team know their way around a TJ so I shouldn’t have been surprised that while I was helping myself to a cuppa in their showroom, they had lifted the TJ onto the ramp and already drained the oil and were asking me to pass over the new filter. I’ve chosen to use a K&N filter for the TJ following previous positive experience with my Grand Cherokee. The filter is more expensive than most but the quality is top drawer and I’ve every confidence in K&N’s claims regarding superior filtration and high flow rates. I also love the one-inch nut moulded into the top of the filter case, making it the easiest filter on the market to remove.

Now the Project starts to get interesting. This month, our Wrangler gets a significant lift, and some serious rubber to make a big statement, and a big footprint. Let’s go off-road and have some fun…

Words and photography: Matt Carson

SeptJeepStartIf you’ve been following our Project TJ, you’ll know that we’ve now got our Jeep protected from the elements with help from Rustbuster and so it’s now time to get stuck into the more exciting area of modifying. First step has been to visit the Essex base of FTE 4×4 Specialists Ltd, Jeep specialists for over 14 years. Owner Steve Fagioli, is a veteran of modifying all kinds of Jeeps, although naturally Wranglers are the most popular, so he seemed the ideal place to start. Steve will be well-known to regular readers and he certainly practises what he preaches as an active participant in the UK Jeep scene; an all round good guy who knows his stuff. Which is just as well, as the last time I looked at modifying a Jeep was 15 years ago and the market has moved on since then. With the internet at hand as a research tool and credit card at the ready, the world is your oyster, which means you need a guide!

It obviously makes sense to start this Jeep project with a basically sound vehicle, safe in the knowledge that the mechanicals and body are up-to the task of the future modifications we have planned.

Words and photography: Matt Carson

AugTJ1I’m not going to be happy discovering the frame’s as rotten once we’ve installed the suspension. A ‘getting the basics right first’ approach is good advice when modifying any vehicle. In this Jeep’s case, we have a fair bit planned, so spending some time and effort early on will – hopefully – help us avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.

Now the image with the Jeep Wrangler is often crawling up sun-baked rocks in the deserts of North America, or maybe posing along Santa Monica boulevard in California; shades on, wind in the hair. Sadly, Jeep Wranglers in the UK have ‘enjoyed’ a lot more moisture in their lives and moisture, road salt and metal, will turn to rust if not cared for. When you are looking to buy a Jeep, try not to get too carried away if it looks good on the outside, if it’s the colour you want and the wheels and tyres look great – you need to get down on your knees. Always have a good look underneath a vehicle. It may well be difficult to see too much, but if there’s a lot of caked-on mud and muck under there be a little cautious. You are sure to have asked the owner whether he takes the vehicle off-road, but let’s face it, the answer is likely to be ‘oh, hardly ever’. Dents and scraps on the protection plates will let you know more. Of course, if the guy is a sensible off-roader, he will have remembered that you have to clean under a vehicle like this, not just polish the shiny bits on the bodywork.

Introducing TJ, this magazine’s new Project Jeep Wrangler. Great plans lie ahead for this vehicle, but here we explain how, and why, we have chosen this particular model.

Words and photography: Matt Carson

JulyTJstartWelcome to our latest project vehicle, a 1998 Jeep TJ. We have chosen a Wrangler as our project because, along with the Land Rover, it has to be the iconic off-roader and therefore an ideal choice. As it happens, prices for this model have dropped to around the £3000 level for an early example, which is another incentive and there is plenty of choice in the market. Besides, I have always been a big Jeep fan, having previously owned two CJ-7s and two Grand Cherokees, so the choice of the Wrangler was an easy one! The Wrangler is rugged and fairly capable out the box and so with a few modifications, can be turned into something special with true off-road prowess.

Over the next six issues we will guide you through our journey starting with a stock example and finishing with a capable off-road machine that’s still driveable on the street. To help achieve our goal, we’ve enlisted the help of some well-known off-road companies and tapped into the knowledge of Jeep guru Steve Fagioli from FTE Engineering. Steve has a rich history of modifying Jeeps, particularly Wranglers and his advice will no doubt prove invaluable during the build up.