For the decade or so when Daimler was teamed with Chrysler, many Jeep enthusiast hoped that just by chance the Mercedes-Benz Unimog engineers would team up with the Jeep Wrangler build team to create the ultimate high-clearance Jeep. Sadly, the two sides never emerged with a brainchild. Though if they did, it might have looked something like Matt Bishop’s ’04 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
Resting on 404 axles plucked from a Unimog, the Big Bird yellow TJ nets a tremendous amount of differential clearance thanks to the 44-inch Boggers and massive portal boxes fitted at the axle ends. Built by David Smith and his team at Terra Traction in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jeep was designed with big boulders in mind.
We recently got the chance to wheel with Matt and his Florida crew. After watching the monster TJ in action, we were impressed by how the well-thought-out terra tamer worked. And while Matt’s Rubicon is still undergoing a few final touches and tuning, we’d say that this Daimler-Chrysler merger is one that will be holding strong for years to come.
2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Transfer case: 4:1 NP241
Axles: Unimog 404, factory selectable lockers with custom air actuators, 3.54 differential, 2.13 portal, 7.56 end ratio
Springs & Such: Custom 3-link front with a track bar, double triangulated 4-link rear, 14-inch travel ORI ST struts, suspension tuned for 4 inches of uptravel and 10 of downtravel
Tires & Wheels: 44x19.5 Boggers on 161⁄2x93⁄4 recentered H1 beadlocks
Steering: PSC fully hydraulic
Other Stuff: Custom tube chassis, Warn 9.5ti winch, 13⁄4x0.120-wall DOM cage, Howe radiator, Power Tank, K&N intake, Optima batteries, 115-inch wheelbase, 94-inch track width, 81⁄2-foot overall height
At 115 inches the Wrangler’s stretched wheelbase is now better suited for steep ledges and
Under the hood the factory Inline-six received a Howe aluminum radiator to help keep thing
To increase the suspension travel and control the 404 axles, a custom three-link was insta
Packed inside each portal box is a 2.13 gearset that when multiplied by the 3.54 different
To actuate the Unimog’s factory selectable lockers, the TJ uses a small Power Tank to feed
This low-pressure setup gives Matt more control when maneuvering the 94-inch-wide Wrangler