My First Wheels: The Rock Toaster
6 years with with my first car, a Jeep JK
Everyone's first car is special. You turn 16, go through all the hassle of Driver's Ed, and finally walk out of the DMV with a shiny new license and a world of opportunity. But a license without a car is like a PB&J without the bread - kind of a buzzkill. So many experiences are to be had in your first car, like driving all your unlicensed friends around, grinding your rims into a curb, backing into your garage door, and getting ticketed for speeding in a school zone. The following article will look at my experiences with my first set of wheels; a billet silver 2013 Jeep JK Sport.
It started out stock as stock gets, right off the lot at the jeep dealership. Fresh as a newborn, I drove my little toaster around for about a month before giving her a facelift. I smacked some 35-inch all terrains on it, cut the rear bumper and fenders off, and bedlined the entire interior.
A few months later, I was getting really into the mall crawler look, and decided to cut holes in the hood and install a Poison Spyder hood louvre, bedline the grill, install red DIY grill inserts, and a massive stinger bar front bumper. Around this time I'd also recently stolen the camo seat covers out of my father's Chevy 1500, and made him fab up some sketchy tube doors. There was also no end to the number of stickers I would have slapped on the front quarter panel at this point.
Within a few years, I'd figured out that forcing a bunch of red accents and phony mall crawler junk onto the JK only made me look like a poser, and began upgrading it for true off-road prowess. After an unfortunate accident, in which I drove 35mph into the back of a Sebring, totaling it, I was "forced" to upgrade the entire front suspension. We're talking Currie 44 High-Pinion front axle, Custom built drag link, tie rod, sway bar, track bar, etc. We also replaced rough country coil springs, all shocks, upper and lower control arms, and drive shafts. All said and done, I was sitting on 37-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrains, FOX Racing suspension, Tom Woods custom driveshafts, along with primarily Poison Spyder skid plates, bumpers, rock armor, etc. My little toaster was all grown up and already dominating the trails.
My father also had a JK by this point, which is not pictured here (for lack of technological expertise in retrieving photographs) and we were consistently off-roading on the weekends with a larger group of guys. We rock crawled all over from Pennsylvania, to North Carolina, to Tennessee. We had a blast crawling, hitting mud pits, breaking drive shafts and axle shafts, ripping off bumpers and fenders, and camping out with some awesome people.
Pictured Above: Our buddy Keoni with his little boy sleeping in the back. Keoni's riding on 40's and full coilover suspension.
Eventually, however, once you get to the point where you're replacing almost everything but the engine components, vehicles tend to get a little bit touchy. Balance, alignment, weight, length, etc., are all things that affect the ride. There were periods where, every time I hit a bump going over 40mph, the entire front end would shake violently and I'd have to pull over. Let me tell you: death wobble is not something you want to deal with in the middle lane of a highway going 70mph. Another thing, don't drive your JK with no doors or roof on it at night in a lightning storm - its not as fun as it seems.
Overall, this vehicle was one of the most fun and exciting you could ever ask for. It took me all over the East Coast, through all sorts of sketchy off-camber rock trails, gave me opportunities to meet some awesome friends, and spend a lot of time with my dad. There's plenty of times I wish I still had my silver rock toaster, but I'll always have some fond memories.
Pictured Above: Our buddy Alan in his desert sand 4-door JK, stopping up on some boulders for a photo op.
Below is a video my buddy Brett Roberts put together of one of our early off-road trips to Rausch Creek Offroad Park in Western PA. He's an extremely talented videographer and editor, so check out some of his recent videos on his channel as well!
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