Have you ever wondered what it would be like to completely dismantle your Jeep and build it back up just the way you wanted? Replacing the bumpers and wheels are one thing, but what about a full-blown, legitimate tear down? Some guys dream of having the bravery (or balls) to do such a thing, but when it comes right down to it, ripping a perfectly good vehicle down to the ground can be quite intimidating —something that most owners just aren’t ready for.
Even if you did work up the nerve to gut the interior, the entire suspension system, and the majority of the body panels, how long would it really take to rebuild it better and badder than before? The process could take years, and the headaches associated with the job are sure to be incalculable.
“Ever wondered what it would be like to completely dismantle your Jeep and build it back up just the way you wanted?”
Okay, that introduction wasn’t meant to deter any potentially brave soul from attempting to customize his own jeep, but the reality of the situation had to be addressed. There are professionals, however, who do this kind of work day-in and day-out with impeccable skill and talent. One of these crews is Starwood Motors out of Dallas, Texas. Customization is their business, and it just so happens that complete vehicle teardown is their specialty. Actually, what they have built their reputation on is their solid rebuilds. “Solid” doesn’t even begin to describe their work as a whole, but for the purposes of this story, it’s a start. Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
Bad to the Bone
You may or may not have seen the many custom Jeep conversions that Starwood Motors have created in the past, but this this one in particular stands out as it has been touted to be the toughest, roughest unit out on the market today. Full Metal Jacket is the name that has been given to the ’13 Jeep Wrangler that Starwood has crafted out of a basic skeleton once they were done stripping it down. Where’d they come up with the Jeep’s title? Well, a lot of it has to do with the bulletproof suspension setup that was developed for the Wrangler.
“Full metal jacket is touted to be the toughest, roughest unit out on the market today.”
The guys threw in 1-ton Currie Rock Jock Dana 60 axles underneath the Jeep, which builds both ruggedness on the trail and confidence about never having to worry about busted outers or axle shafts. The frame itself features an insane long arm suspension and 14-inch Fox coil over shocks that can extend from 9 inches to pretty much whatever is necessary to conquer any mountain. And to help get it over the top of that tower of rocks and dirt, 40-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers and a 5.38:1 gear ratio will have this thing propelling in any direction of choice.
Designing a suspension like this one right here is not exactly what most would expect out of a home DIY project, which may be yet another reason to leave a project of this caliber to fabrication veterans.
“The guys threw in 1-ton Currie Rock Jock Dana 60 axles underneath the Jeep, which builds both ruggedness on the trail and confidence about never having to worry about busted outers or axle shafts.”
But aside from its mini-tank-like agility, the Full Metal Jacket Wrangler has been clad with a serious exoskeleton that only Starwood Motors has seemed to master. Their signature paint finish is infused with DuPont Kevlar pulp, which makes the surface impenetrable to the elements, and would allow the Jeep to be showered with the most acidic of acid rain or the stormiest of weather without causing as much as a water stain. This is the same material that is used in ballistic applications and stab-resistant body armor—it’s some pretty serious business for sure, and fits right into place on this 4-wheeled warrior. Smittybilt 1/8-inch cold rolled steel XRC Body Armor skins have been brought in to keep the bodylines tight and contoured while adding a level of protection that will keep this rig safe from whatever it stands toe-to-toe with on the back roads. 22-inch KMC XD series Bomb off-road wheels have similar aggressive styling cues as the rest of the Jeep, so they were brought in to round off the entire exterior package.
Rigid Industries light bars have been mounted to make sure that even after night falls, there’s enough light to keep the action moving. With all the talk about doomsday prepping the last few years, what better vehicle could ever deliver better post-apocalyptic performance? If the undead really do become a factor during these times, none will have a chance catching up with or taking down the Full Metal Jacket’s arsenal.
Locked and Loaded
Oh, so you want to know about this Wrangler’s mowing capabilities? Well, the impressively rambunctious Pentastar 3.6L V-6 serves as this Jeep’s power plant as it boasts a horsepower count of 285 and enough torque to make it quicker at acceleration and steady on the grind after it takes off. The confines of the control center aren’t any less impressive as Starwood has outfitted this model with full custom seats covered in black leather and Alcantara Daytona style inserts and Kevlar floor lining (because messes of all kinds are definitely in this machine’s foreseeable future). A Kenwood touchscreen navigation/DVD player equipped with iPod and USB integration, as well as a satellite radio meet all the necessary “infotainment” desires while out in the wild. Front and rear cameras have been installed to make keeping tabs on one’s surroundings as quick as a passing glance.
“Aside from its mini-tank-like agility, the Full Metal Jacket Wrangler has been clad with a serious exoskeleton that only Starwood Motors has seemed to master.”
A full audio system has also been wired inside of the cabin, which has been topped off with a subwoofer to achieve a full range audio signal for adding a personalized soundtrack to match up with the driving scenario at hand. And to kick up custom points, a choice of Safari style half doors or the factory full frame doors is given to those wanting as much open air exposure as desired.
Wanna be a Rock Star?
Starwood offers packages that can to suit personal tastes, so right out of the package, there aren’t many other Wranglers out there that can get close to touching it. And the cherry on top of it all is the fact that the original Jeep factory warranty remains in tact. So underneath all the modifications and custom add-ons, it still remains serviceable by any Chrysler-Jeep dealership throughout the country.
Still thinking about building your own Wrangler to meet this level of intensity? It would be tough to top, that’s for sure, but then again Starwood Motors is in a league all their own when it comes to bad-to-the-bone Jeep conversions.
There are no shortcuts taken and every component used inside and out, back to front, is top shelf product. And the amount of experience and craft mastery that goes into these builds is unmatchable. That being said, the Full Metal Jacket edition Wrangler is not exactly on the budget end of the spectrum. It holds a premium price, but who would expect otherwise after researching just how deep these Jeeps are customized? When second best just won’t cut it, you know exactly where to set your sights.
PLATFORM: 2013 Jeep Wrangler
- Pentastar 3.6L V-6
- Currie G2 RockJock Dana 60 front and rear high pinion big bearing axles
- Warn manual locking hubs
- Air Locker differentials with on-board compressor
- Rubicon Express long arm suspension system
- Fox 2-inch factory series remote reservoir coilover shock w/ springs
- Fox 2-inch hydraulic bump stops and mounting cans
- Synergy Suspension front shock / coilover custom shock towers
- Currie anti-sway bars
- 22-inch KMC XD Bomb wheels
- 40×15.50×22 Nitto Mud Grappler tires
- Rigid Industries 50-inch and 10-inch light bars
- (2) LED side firewall mount lights
- sPOD 6-switch source control system
- Poison Spyder billet aluminum mount brackets
- JW speaker LED headlamps
- Poison Spyder tubular interior frame with integrated grab handles
- Procar seats with black leather and Alcantara Daytona style inserts
- Starwood Motors signature finish infused with DuPont Kevlar pulp
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Tread Magazine.