Double Black Offroad Revealed The First Modified Aussie-based Jl Wrangler – An Unstoppable Punk’n Orange Overland – Before The Wrangler’s Official Down Under Launch.
FOR AUSSIE Jeep fanatics the eternal wait for the JL Wrangler is over, with the local launch officially taking place in Tasmania. Beating Jeep Australia to the punch, however, was Melbourne-based Jeep gurus Double Black Offroad (DBOR), who revealed the first Australian-modified Wrangler a few weeks prior.
This bright and brutally tough four-door Overland promises even more off-road fun and capability. More impressively, DBOR’s head honcho Bill Barbas invited 4X4 Australia to drive the thing. Bill was happy for us to get as down and dirty as we liked with the big orange beast, but there was a bit of a tussle to get to the keys...
SO HOW does a niche specialist business get a hold of a vehicle before the big boys? Well, Bill is an ambassador for Brighton Jeep and he drew on that strong relationship to (excuse the pun) wrangle himself a very special delivery in the form of a Euro-spec JL Wrangler a few months before the official Australian launch (which, ironically, used Euro-spec vehicles). Once the Overland arrived, Bill and his team got stuck into the modifications they were keen to implement and then showcase.
The Jeep Wrangler isn’t short on available accessories, but the fact that the majority of JLs are, at this stage, still mainly drawn from the USA meant Bill and the team had to solve a few mechanical and engineering problems for this right-hand drive version. The big one – especially for anyone with an inclination toward off-road touring – is the position of the steering damper as it comes from the factory. In the stock Wrangler the steering damper sits quite low and is exposed to potential crunching when approaching a steep obstacle.
“It’s actually really bad,” Bill affirmed. “And that was the first choice: how to make that work properly to fit and suit right-hand drive.
“So that was one of our first projects; just to flip that dampener and grind off the existing mount. We gained nearly three inches just by doing that,” he said.
Looking at the finished product you’d be hardpressed to know the steering damper’s revised and far more common-sense location wasn’t like that fresh from the factory. It makes you wonder what the Jeep boffins were thinking when they positioned it down low like that.
A MIX OF FLAVOURS
IF THERE’S an upside to Australia having to wait so long for the JL Wrangler to arrive, it’s that by the time this orange rig arrived in the DBOR workshop there was already a vast amount of accessories available for it. The caveat was that, as Bill found out, what may seem like a straightforward fitment in the Jeep’s home country isn’t always the case for the right-hand-drive version. Fitment of the vehicle took a couple of months, with some of the team’s time spent rejigging aftermarket accessories from the USA to fit the Australian/Euro-spec Wrangler. Plus, they had to wait for accessories to be made for the significantly smaller RHD Wrangler market.
“What a lot of it (the timeframe) was … it was more a case of what accessories were available,” Bill explained. “This is the problem … you had a lot of the US companies that are understandably so caught up in their market, and a lot of stock wasn’t available at the time.”
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