L96 V-8 Powered Jeep JK8 Conversion

Clark Hill purchased a brand-new 2007 Jeep JKU Rubicon just for the purpose of cutting it up. When we asked why, he said, “I wanted to start the project with a clean slate and not be dealing with the hassle of fixing somebody else’s mistakes while busy building my dream Jeep.” Driving his ambition even more so was the fact that somebody told him that it couldn’t be done. That only made Clark work harder to build a Jeep pickup with generous power and a suspension made to handle any terrain.

The two-year process began with the grafting of the JK8 conversion kit to the JKU body. Clark did the cutting, welding, and grinding work on the body rebuild, but sourced a JK Heat Expulsion Hood engine hood from TOTL Innovations. Front prerunner and rear shorty bumpers from VKS Fabrication and a set of MetalCloak fenders were added, as well as weld-on rock sliders from VKS. The MetalCloak fenders were coated with the same gray Extreme Liner that the entire body, inside and out, was sprayed with. Demon Eyes headlights from HIDProjectors.com are perched in the grille, giving the front end of the JK8 conversion a menacing stare.

The wheelbase was stretched to 120 inches (1 inch in front and 3 inches in rear), and Clark built a custom three-link front and rear suspension system that features 12-inch–stroke ORI struts. Swinging underneath the suspension is a pair of axles from a 2005 Ford F-350: A Dana 60 front and Sterling 10.5 rear are both filled with upgraded Dana Spicer axle U-joints, 5.13 gears, and ARB Air Lockers. The front features Warn hubs and an Artec truss, the rear got a custom truss that also tied in the upper (third) rear suspension link. Both axles are tipped with PowerStop disc brakes that get juice from a J8 booster and master cylinder from Mopar. A Redneck Ram hydraulic steering system helps turn the massive 40x13.50R17 Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 tires on custom powdercoated 17x9.5 Raceline ST Monster beadlocks.

The job of getting power to those tires begins up front get more info with an L96 6.0L V-8 from a 2014 GMC 2500HD pickup. A Flex-A-Lite dual-pass all-aluminum radiator with a thermostatically controlled fan from a 2016 Jeep Wrangler and a MagnaFlow dual 2 1/2-inch to single 3-inch exhaust system augment the small-block. The righteous dyno-tune by Throttleworks in Boise, Idaho, made it roar. Clark backed that up with a 6L80 juice tranny and an NV241J transfer case from a 2014 Jeep JK Sport, and a pair of custom spinners from Adams Driveshaft connect powertrain to drivetrain.

Inside the JK8, he created a cabin filled with creature comforts and security measures. Heated and custom-patterned (designed by Clark) leather seats from Simpson Racing hold occupants securely in place while on the steepest terrain (and we found plenty of that on the slickrock fins of Moab during our photo shoot). A Rock Hard 4x4 bolt-in rollcage lines the cabin; a Blaupunkt/Rockford Fosgate sound system that includes a 10-inch subwoofer, 5-inch front speakers, and dual amps fills the space with beautiful noise for those long hauls to the trailhead.

Why This Jeep?
Despite the wide-ranging opinions the look of Clark Hill’s Jeep JK8 conversion may evoke, it’s undeniable that the engineering and construction, flexible but controlled suspension, gnarly 1-ton axles, and a tiger of a V-8 engine make it one heck of a trail machine. He was a Jeep fan that could wait no longer for his dream truck—so he built it.

Hard Facts
Vehicle: 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon/JK8 Conversion

Engine: 2014 Chevrolet 6.0L L96 from 2500HD

Transmission: GM 6L80 6-speed automatic

Transfer Case: NV241J

Suspension: Custom 3-link front and rear, 12-inch-travel ORI Struts

Axles: Artec-trussed 2005 Ford F-350 Dana 60 (front); 2005 Ford F-350 Sterling 10.5 (rear); both w/ 5.13 gears and ARB Air Lockers, PowerStop brakes

Wheels: 17x9.5 Raceline ST Monster beadlock

Tires: 40x13.50R17 Pro Comp Xtreme MT2

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