For those of you who aren’t hip to the country music scene, the cat pictured here is Michael Ray. The 31-year-old, Florida-born singer has been riding high on a hit single entitled “One That Got Away,” and has been hitting the road hard as a star act on this year’s “CMT On Tour.”
When not on tour, you can find Ray exploring Tennessee’s many off-road trails in his custom 2013 Jeep Wrangler JK; a vehicle that has just received a massive amount of upgrades via the help of Bestop Premium Accessories Group and Micahel Ray’s preferred Nashville tuning shop, Music City 4×4.
While Ray’s Wrangler had previously received a mild lift and fender flares to accommodate 35-inch Firestone Destination mud-terrain tires and 20×9-inch black-milled Cali Offroad Twisted alloy wheels, it was far from being a full-blown build. So founder Brian Creten and his team of specialists at Music City 4×4 kicked-off a fresh round of mods, with their first priority being suspension performance enhancements.
In order to improve off-road wheel travel while still retaining asphalt cruising comfort, a Rock Krawler 3.5-inch Flex system was brought on board. Permitting plentiful amounts of clearance for 35-inch tires, even when under complete compression, this setup is widely revered for tracking straight on the highway, all while remaining extremely capable off-road.
As for Bestop, it became involved when Michael Ray expressed how he loved feeling the wind in his hair, yet despised the hassle of tinkering with his JK’s hardtop. This was when Music City 4×4 suggested Bestop’s Trektop Pro as a solution. Residing somewhere between a hard-top and a soft-top, this setup utilizes glass windows and triple-layer acrylic twill fabric.
Since a hefty amount of its customers are country fans, the Bestop Performance Accessories Group decided to help Michael Ray outfit his JK with a ton of additional accessories, including Baja Designs lighting and PRP Seats. Bestop Core Doors were also installed alongside optional Twill Uppers, which can be removed for a more open-air experience. This setup also permits the removal of door center panels, something that Bestop says both increases ventilation and improves visibility.
Michael Ray’s JK also received a hefty amount of Highrock 4×4 armor from Bestop, including modular bumpers with stubby-style centers sections for easy accessorizing. A Highrock 4×4 Modular Bumper was affixed to the nose of the Wrangler and then upgraded with optional full-width End Caps, a Tubular Grille Guard, and a Modular Skidplate.
Topping off the front bumper are a duo of Baja Designs LP6 off-road lights in a six-inch LED light pattern, which produces 10,300 lumens over a 200-degree span for unrivaled visibility. Out back, the Highrock 4×4 Modular Bumper was outfitted with an optional Oversize Tire Carrier, while Baja Designs Rock Light LED kit added additional flare.
Internal upgrades include Bestop Floor Liners, a Bestop Roughrider Tailgate Shelf, as well as an Underseat Organizer from the brand. The final upgrade came courtesy of PRP Seats, which tailormade marine-grade vinyl seat and headrest covers, and then custom-embroidered Michael Ray’s logo into each.
If you are unfamiliar with the Bestop brand, it’s worth noting that the Boulder, Colorado off-road specialist is the undisputed king of soft-top Jeep engineering. Originally founded in 1954, Bestop has grown to the point where it is now the sole supplier of factory soft tops for all Jeep Wranglers and has been doing so since 1986. The Bestop Premium Accessories Group (BPAG) now includes names like Baja Designs LED Lighting, Tuffy Security Products, and PRP Seats.
We reached out to Bestop CEO John Larson in order to get his take on the brand’s relationship with Michael Ray, and here is what he said:
“We’re proud to be working with singer Michael Ray on his new custom Bestop Wrangler,” John explains. “Michael is a true Jeep enthusiast, and that’s what we get excited about here at Bestop. Together, the Bestop Premium Accessories Group is committed to providing the very best in Jeep and truck accessories used on and off-road. We couldn’t be more pleased with how Michael Ray’s Bestop Wrangler turned out.”
In response, Michael Ray had this to say about the build, now that is complete.
“I love driving my Jeep,” Ray says. “There’s a freedom and creative fueling that happens between the fresh air and the music blaring. It’s been a gamechanger for me as now I can’t wait to get home to cruise around, listening to what my next album entails as we’re writing and recording it and hearing how it sounds on the open road!”
For more information on Bestop’s products be sure to visit their website.