Fabtech has been building off-road vehicles since 1989 as a business, and their latest project in line with prior builds they have done in the past. This is one 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon that really lives up to the its legacy.
The project was nicknamed “BC” by the in-house R&D team, but no one can remember how they came up with it. Fabtech built this 4×4 as an updated flagship to showcase their Jeep products on the trail, on the road, and at events and shows. Before we had chance to take the Jeep out to shoot, we saw it at the Off Road Expo in Pomona, California.
The Jeep was getting plenty of attention while it was displayed at the show, which made us more excited to see what it could do in the dirt, so Off Road Xtreme and Fabtech headed out to Cougar Buttes in the Johnson Valley OHV California’s Lucerne Valley.
We could tell the Jeep handled the road very well, no matter what was underfoot. We did not see any death wobble at freeway speeds, which just made the anticipation as we made our way to the trail. Once we got off the road and onto the dirt, we got up close look at everything that went into building this amazing vehicle.
The build took a total of one month to complete, from start to finish. The first two weeks were focused on the cage, which is tied in to the frame at four points, and is built from 1.75-inch, 0.120 wall DOM tubing. The dash was removed for extra leg clearance and provided a straight shot to the floor, where the cage was then tied into the frame, and provides race harness attachment points.
As a large suspension manufacture they were afforded with the opportunity to design the Jeep with their own products, and determine the way it would handle off-road. The Fabtech team says their favorite part of the Jeep is the suspension, which is smooth, extremely capable, and comfortable.
Jake Headlee, Jeep category manager at Fabtech, said, “This Jeep is like a Cadillac, just floating over obstacles with ease. Sometimes, it’s just too easy; a point and shoot. No matter how many times I wheel it, I am always amazed at how much it flexes and how well it performs.”
“The most exciting moment of the build was when we had the Jeep on the ground again and flexed it out with a forklift. – Steve Erdelyi
The Jeep was intense build to take on before the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah with just a few days of testing open prior to leaving for the event. A few staff members spent many nights at the shop to complete the vehicle during off hours.
Steve Erdelyi, Fabtech’s R&D manager, was in charge of the build, and said, “The most exciting moment of the build was when we had the Jeep on the ground again and flexed it out with a forklift.Being able to see the massive amount of flex and ensuring that all of our clearances were spot-on made it all worthwhile.”
The Fabtech Jeep has almost everything you can get for a Jeep bolted on, including a Poison Spyder BFH front bumper with brawler bar, RockBrawler II with tire carrier and reverse lights, rock crusher aluminum narrow width flares, brawler steel rock rails, rear crusher corners with LED taillights, and a Warn Zeon 10-S Platinum winch with synthetic line.
To wheel at night, the team mounted a 50-inch Rigid Industries light bar above the windshield and two dually LED pods on the A-pillars. The lighting is controlled with sPOD’s six-switch panel. The factory hardtop was removed and a Bestop Black Twill Supertop NX was installed in its place.
The Jeep is equipped with the stock 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which has done the job just fine. Fabtech 2012 and newer exhaust loop delete was installed along with a Magnaflow muffler. The Jeep not only looks good, but it sounds good as well. A K&N cone filter and a Optima RedTop battery finish off everything under the hood.
The team turned to Dynatrac to get some help with the axles. Dynatrac hooked the team up with their ProRock 60 high ground clearance high-pinion front axle with a heavy duty nodular housing. The axle is 68.5 inches wide, has a 3.125 inches in diameter, and has half-inch thick axle tubes.
Dynatrac ProRock 60 Parts List
– HD Forged Pro Series 60 end forgings
– 35 Spline 1.5-inch diameter axle shafts
– 1480 axle U-joints
– HD ProSteer ball joints
– Nodular diff cover
– Nodular stubby wheel hubs,
–Heat treated stubby chromoly spindles
Dynatrac also outfitted the rear axle for Fabtech. Dynatrac’s ProRock 80 full float, 40-spline 1.71-inch diameter axle shafts built from 4340. The team went with the HD nodular housing, four-inch 4130 chromoly axle tubes, and nodular diff covers complete the rear axle. They choose a ARB lockers with a 5.38:1 gear ratio for the Jeep.
Having the ability to stop and to have control of the vehicle while it is going over rocks and on the trail is also crucial. Dynatrac HD F350 dual piston brake calipers with 13-inch vented front rotors and Dynatrac HD 13.9-inch vented rotors, with J8 disc brake assembly with emergency brake make sure that this 4×4 can stop on a dime and avoid slipping on the rocks, or other terrain.
For anyone that off-roads on a regular basis, having a comfortable ride is always a huge plus, and for Fabtech it was time to showcase the suspension. This vehicle was used for development of the new rear bolt on coilover mounts added on to the existing Fabtech crawler long-arm kit. The current kit features a conversion for the front factory four link arms to Fabtech’s own radius arm design. The rear track bar is properly relocated to keep the rear axle tracking with the front axle for superior road handling at high speed.
Dirt Logic’s 2.5 coilovers are used in all four corners, making sure “BC” is riding in style at all times, but also adds the lift necessary to clear the Ultra Wheels 103 Xtreme beadlocks wrapped in 39-inch BF Goodrich Red Label Krawlers. The ability to air down on the trail to let the tires hug the rocks helps, but airing them back up on the trail for the journey home is just as important. An ARB dual high output onboard air compressor is mounted on a custom-built bracket under the passenger front seat and has a stainless steel line plumbed to the front bumper for easy access.
“The Jeep has performed flawlessly. Since then, we have taken it on many testing trips and photoshoots in Johnson Valley, Stoddard Wells, and Big Bear. So far, we’ve gone to Easter Jeep Safari, High Desert Roundup, and Big Bear Forest Fest. We have many more events in the Southwest planned for the rest of the year, and 2016 will be even bigger,” Jake commented when asked about future plans for the Jeep.
“At each of the events, we always pick the difficult trails so we can show off just how well our suspension systems work. We have taken on obstacles that many others shied away from,” Jake said.
On example of how well this Jeep has done on the trail was recalled from a trip to Moab. “The 4 Wheel Parts trip ran through the sandstone ledges of Metal Masher and we got a view of Arches National Park. An exciting obstacle within the Metal Masher trail is Rock Chucker, an eclectic combination of ledges and boulders. This section of the trail has a bypass that nearly all of the 50-plus vehicles used. Our newly built Fabtech 2015 Wrangler handled it with ease. One other brave soul stepped up to the plate behind our successful attempt,” Jake said.
The Jeep had no problem going through the slow technical rock sections at Cougar Buttes, but we were most impressed with how it handled the large whoop section. Most off-road vehicles are designed to do one or the other, not both. “BC” soaked up the two-foot whoops like it was going over a small speed bump. The suspension took the hits like it had been training all its life for this momentous occasion!
Off Road Xtreme had a great time with Fabtech’s 2015 Jeep Wrangler. Where would you take it first? Tell us in the comments below!