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Bryan’s 2017 Subaru Crosstrek

Editor’s note: New Jersey isn’t what most people think of when it comes to off-roading, and Bryan Grosinski didn’t buy his Hyper Blue Crosstrek with the intention of taking it off-road. But as it often happens with the Subaru community, in for a penny, in for a pound.

 


 

I’ve always liked having a car that stood out just a little from regular, everyday drivers. Pretty much every car I've owned has been modified in one way or another, whether it's "go fast" mods or "go anywhere" mods.

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My girlfriend Kelley and I didn't exactly choose the Crosstrek to be an off-road vehicle! We chose it because of its safety, reliability, and style — especially the color! And living in New Jersey, we wanted something with four-wheel drive. After about a year of owning it, we discovered that there was actually a pretty large Subaru off-road community. We became friends with some local Subaru owners and started going to meets and off-road rides.

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It’s honestly something I would never have imagined doing with this car, but we love the fact that we are part of a community of other enthusiasts that share the same crazy ideas as us! Some are way more extreme than we'll ever be, but so far, our Crosstrek has:

  • Subtle Solutions 1.5 inch lift, front and rear.
  • Primitive Racing skid plates for the engine, transmission, and rear differential.
  • Method Racing MR502 wheels (15x7) wrapped with BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires (215/75R15). I chose KO2 tires because of its history of being a great quality off-road/on-road tire. This car is a daily driver, so I wanted something that would continue to get decent gas mileage and not be ridiculously loud on the highways. Also, the look of the tire is just nice!
  • SSD Performance Subaru Rally Light Bar with a Rough Country 30-inch dual row led light bar.
  • We also have a Thule HyperXL cargo box to pack all our gear in for our adventures.
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Our favorite off-road journey to date is Shafer Canyon Road in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. Moab in general is one of our favorite places to vacation. There are so many hidden gems around New Jersey as well. We try to explore as much as our busy lives let us!

 


 

Catch more of this bright blue Crosstrek on Instagram at @pooper_duck. And for the record, there’s nothing special about the name. As Bryan says, “It was just something I said in my sleep. My girlfriend thought was funny and wrote it down. It had nothing to do with the car, but now everyone knows the car as Pooper Duck!”

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Build

Jake’s 1947 Willys CJ2A

Editor’s note: Jake Johnson’s little red Jeep may have all the aesthetics of a vintage off-roader, but he’s built it into a capable machine perfectly at home on trails modern Jeeps tackle.

 




Growing up, my dad always had a Willys around, so naturally, I loved them. As soon as I got to an age where I could reach the pedals, I was driving off-road and loving it. I loved wrenching on the old rusty Jeeps my dad would bring home, and I wasn’t the only one to get hooked in my family.  My two older brothers both have Jeeps and International Harvester Scouts.

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This Jeep came from my dad. He and I purchased and resurrected it together. The L-head engine was seized, and the T90 transmission was full of water when we got it home after purchasing it. After about a year of work, it was back on the road. I ran it stock for a few years until a fellow coworker came across a little Kubota engine for a great price. Being a diesel technician for a local Caterpillar dealer, my wheels began turning, and that’s when the modifications really started.

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I purchased an engine adapter from Overland Diesel to connect the transmission to the engine. Swapped in a later model Dana 30 front axle with factory disc brakes. The rear Dana 44 was modified to be a full float, then installed disc brake brackets from Brennan’s Garage. This little 2.2L diesel averages 25-30 mpg with impressive power.

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Here’s a full list of my modifications:

  • Kubota V2203T 2.2L diesel
  • T90 transmission
  • Spicer 18 t-case w/tera low
  • Warn overdrive
  • Dana 30 front w/disc 5:38 gears
  • Dana 44 full float rear 5:38 gears
  • Spartan lockers front and rear
  • Brennan’s Garage disc brake conversion
  • R&P Dual master
  • Saginaw power steering
  • Rancho Springs 1.5” lift
  • Daystar shackles
  • Warn 8274 winch
  • 5” DOM roll cage
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After those modifications, I needed to source a set of tires. After hours of reading reviews and looking at pricing, BFGoodrich® Mud Terrain T/A KM2 tires were the choice. Taking into account suspension and overall vehicle size, I chose 33x10.50R15 sized tires. They are mounted on Cragar 15x7 wheels. The tires perform really well on- and off-road. The Jeep lives in Utah so it sees many extreme conditions, including sandy desert, snowy Rocky Mountains, the slick-rock of Moab, and everything in between. When the tires are aired down for Moab they flatten out nicely, even though the Jeep only weighs in around 2300lbs. 

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My Jeep sees regular outings, including Easter Jeep Safari every year. It also travels 1000 miles, once a year with Novak Conversions War Hero to Trail Hero event. The Jeep is about where I want it to be, but of course, no project is ever finished.

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To see more of this Willys, follow Jake on Instagram at @theredwillys

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Adventure Build

Jason’s 1996 Toyota 4Runner SR5

Editor’s note: This 1996 Toyota 4Runner has been Jason Harbert and his wife Kristen’s trusty companion for years and years. In that time, it’s evolved from an occasional off-roader into a fully built rock crawler with tons of character.

 


 

I am a longtime fan of BFGoodrich® Tires, and I think our story is a true testament to the brand. About ten years ago my wife (Kristen) and I bought a 1996 Toyota 4Runner SR5, which we affectionately call Sandy. At the time, we were just looking for a reliable and capable vehicle for occasional off-roading and camping trips. Little did we know that it would turn into a full blown hobby and open up a whole world of new places and friends.

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Sandy has taken us all over California, from the mountains in Big Bear and Johnson Valley at the Hammers, to the deserts in Anza Borrego, and all the way across the Mojave. We have been through Utah, exploring Moab and Sand Hollow. We have even had the chance to drive across the country a few times, spending a few years in North Carolina — Uwharrie National Park was a blast.

Long before owning the 4Runner, we had a love for all things automotive. I grew up tinkering on cars, learning the basics from my dad. My first “enthusiast” vehicle was a Honda Del Sol that I modified, followed shortly by a MK4 Volkswagen GTI which I had even more fun with. I upgraded the turbo, transmission, suspension, all the bolt-ons... That thing could move! Even then, I had a set of BFGs on it — g-Force T/A KDWs — and they were nothing short of amazing. But our life brought some changes when I started going full-time to the Fire and Paramedic Academy, so we had to sell the GTI to help pay the mortgage while I was not working during school. That brings us to the 4Runner.

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Shortly after finishing school, we bought Sandy the 4Runner so we could go on trips around the California parks and OHV areas with Kristen’s parents in their Jeep. I knew right away that I wanted to upgrade a couple things, so I bought a basic lift, some recovery gear, and a set of 33-inch BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO tires. I had great experiences with my past BFGoodrich purchases, and my father-in-law had KOs on his modified Jeep which he highly recommended, so it was an easy decision. Those tires put up with the abuse of rock crawling, desert running, and cross-country road trips for over five years. In fact, we moved coast to coast (CA to NC, and then back again) on those KOs, with all kinds of road trips and off-road adventures in between. They still had some life left on them when I decided I was ready for a bigger size. 

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To keep up with my father-in-law’s Jeep, I upgraded the front and rear differentials with lower gearing and lockers. On the suspension, I went to a mid-travel coilover setup, along with armor and a winch. I also came across a steal on some used 35/12.5/16.5 (yes, 16.5!) Mud Terrain T/A KMs, which worked really well until I discovered that they were far too old to be off-roading with. I can’t remember what their year stamp was, but I do know they were almost as old as the truck itself. Three out of five of my tires blew out on a Death Valley trip, so in order to get home, we took the back seat out of the in-laws’ Jeep to make room for five wheels and tires, and booked it over to Las Vegas.

I wanted to get some KM2s to replace my KMs, but the tire shop didn’t have the size I needed. So I got my second choice, some 35-inch KO2s, which I have had for two years. Like my truck, the KO2s are a perfect balance between all conditions: desert pre-running, rock crawling, and on-road comfort and longevity.

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On a trip to Moab earlier this year, I stalled at the top of an obstacle on Hell’s Revenge and rolled Sandy down a steep hill. Nobody was hurt, but the truck needed some major repairs. In classic Toyota form, the truck finished the trail and got us all the way home from Utah back to California. Then we were faced with the decision on what to do with it. Since we couldn’t bring ourselves to part with old Sandy, we decided to take her to the next level and install a long-travel kit on the front, King shocks all around, and upgrade all of the front end components that were damaged in the crash. It was a long four months of wrenching and wishing we were on the trails, but in the end it was worth it. Through all of our ups and downs with Sandy the family wagon, those BFGs have been tried and true. I am looking forward to trying out the new KM3s next!

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Here’s a full build breakdown of Sandy:

Platform:

  • 1996 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4x4 in Desert Sand Dune Metallic
  • 3.4L V6 5VZFE, automatic transmission

 

Drivetrain:

  • Original motor and trans with 190k mi
  • High clearance radiator
  • External trans cooler
  • Oversized alternator and battery

 

Front Axle:

  • East Coast Gear Supply solid bearing (replaces needle bearing)
  • Yukon 5.29 ring and pinion
  • Spartan locker
  • BTF Fabrication CV joints (+4.5in), 300m shafts and modified Tundra joints
  • DuroBumps diff bushings

 

Rear Axle:

  • Yukon 5.29 ring and pinion
  • Aussie locker

 

Front Suspension:

  • BTF Fabrication +4.5 long travel kit
  • King Shocks 8in coilovers with external reservoir
  • DuroBumps dual-durometer bump stops (prototyping)
  • Total Chaos spindle gussets

 

Rear Suspension:

  • Front Range Offroad full rear link kit
  • Old Man Emu 861 springs (intended for Land Cruisers)
  • King Shocks 10in shocks with external reservoir
  • FOA 2.0x2in bump stops
  • BTF Fabrication QuickLinks (sway bar disconnects)

 

Armor and Recovery:

  • Addicted Offroad front and rear bumpers
  • Addicted Offroad sliders
  • Factory skid plates, ‘custom’ bent
  • Smittybilt 9.5k winch
  • Factor55 ProLink
  • HiLift 60in tractor jack
  • Gaia mapping on iPad Mini

 

Body and Lighting:

  • SRQ Fabrications retrofit headlights
  • SRQ Fabrications turn signal filler panels
  • McNeil Racing front fenders
  • Homemade grille with ‘raptor style’ lights
  • SXMA 5in LED lights x2
  • TJ Racks full-length roof rack

 

Wheels and Tires:

  • MB Razor 16x8in wheels, painted with bedliner then Rustoleum Aged Copper
  • BFGoodrich All Terrain KO2s, 315/75R16  

 




Follow Sandy’s travels on Instagram at @opt.offroad, or Youtube.

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Build

Madison's 2018 Jeep Wrangler JLU Sport

Editor’s note: Jeeping wasn’t a choice for Madison — she was born into it! She grew up riding around in her family’s two 1989 Jeep Scramblers, and that’s translated into a JKU, and now, a 2018 JL.

 


 

I have been passionate about off-roading since I was a kid. My family is from Catalina Island, which has a very primitive type of terrain. We had two '89 Jeep Scramblers, and that’s how I started off-roading. It sparked my love for Jeeps, the outdoors, and the dirt!  

There’s a reason the phrase "only in a Jeep" is often used around here. I absolutely love the capability of Jeeps, and how they will always take me to the road less traveled. If I want to go somewhere, I know I can rely on my Jeep to take me.

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I previously had a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JKU, and it was a very capable machine, but after seeing the improvements on the JL, and seeing how much more capable it was fully stock, I had to make the change. I have made a few modifications and have many more in the works! Current mods on the rig are 35-inch BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires on Rubicon wheels; I’ve replaced all OEM lights with Diode Dynamics LEDs; there’s a 30" Diode Dynamics LED light bar; a three-inch Fabtech Sport System Suspension Lift; and I have replaced my cold air intake with one from Injen Technology, which helps increase performance even more. 

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To me, the JL is unparalleled with its handling on- and off-road, especially after I installed my KO2s. I decided to go with BFGs because, in my experience off-roading with previous Jeeps, they always got the job done for me. I ran mud tires on my last Jeep, and those got me out of some especially sticky situations. I tried a competitor brand one time, and a tire failed on my second crawling trip — less than a month after purchase! I got a refund and went straight back to BFGs.

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I got the Jeep back in May, so most trips have been relatively local to California so far. My favorite trip was with mine and @Alex Gallagher's Jeep club, SoCal JL Club. We took the back way from Pioneertown into Big Bear. We had about 10 JLs and 2 JKs in the crew. We left from Pappy & Harriet's, drove through Joshua Tree, crawled through Heartbreak Ridge and Pontiac Sluice, drove through some more mountains, and finally popped out in Big Bear. Oh man, was that a lot of fun! We have two trips planned next year that I'm pretty stoked for. One is to Moab, and one is a road trip up through California, stopping at some pretty cool trails along the way. 






See more of Madison's JL on Instagram at @bluedreamthejl.

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Build

Sarah and Aaron’s 2017 Subaru Crosstrek

Editor’s note: Sarah and Aaron Tuttle are what you expect out of a Subaru-loving couple that lives in the Pacific Northwest: they’re active, outdoorsy adventurers. But once they swapped their stock tires for BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2s, they discovered a whole new dimension of the outdoors for exploring.

 


 

We currently live in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon and own a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek. We previously owned a Scion xB, and although fun, it did not fit our active lifestyle. Aaron and I love being outdoors, with activities ranging from skiing, hiking, camping, downhill mountain biking, trail riding, and enjoying all that our state of Oregon has to offer. 

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We purchased the Crosstrek to fit our active, outdoor lifestyle, as well as for its high safety ratings and symmetrical AWD system. I never thought we would ever modify it. Once we bought it, it took us everywhere we wanted to go, and then brought us into Oregon Subaru Club, where we have met many Subaru enthusiasts that we have become good friends with.

Slowly, we started modifying the car, and we found ourselves wanting to do more. While the modifications were modest, we wanted them done right:

  • An OEM Sport Grill
  • Yakima Railbars
  • RhinoRack Zenith 14 cu ft Roofbox
  • Primitive Racing Triple Armor skid plates
  • Anderson Design Fabrication 1” lift
  • Rally Armor Mudflaps
  • Method MR502 VT-Spec 2 wheels and BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires (215/75R15)

We’ve also made other small modifications that aren’t always visible: a Perrin Stubby antenna, Grimm Speed Hella Horn Bracket with Supertone Hellas, Primitive Racing rear brake line extension brackets, Curt 2” hitch, and all Diode Dynamics LED cabin lights and selective exterior lights. 

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What we love most about our Crosstrek is the life that has happened since owning it, the feeling of being safe while driving it, and having heads turn at times with people showing interest in it. It has taken us off-road to some stunning and peaceful places and performed amazing along the way.

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Previously, we didn’t have the confidence we would have liked while going off-road. That is when we decided to make the change to the KO2s, and they have NOT disappointed! Also, since dropping to a 15-inch wheel from the stock 17-inchers, we can now air down before getting on the trail. One of our favorite areas that we have gone off-roading is up Forest Service Road 370 near Broken Top Mountain, and other areas throughout the Oregon Cascade Mountain Range. Road 370 is pretty technical (large sign stating “road not maintained for passenger vehicles”), but the views astonishing. 

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We have only had this car since February of 2017, and currently have over 32,000 miles on it, which shows how much we love to drive it. Life happens in a Subaru. Adventures are made. Friendships are formed. 

 


 

See more of the Tuttles’ adventures on Instagram at @pnw_crosstrek. Photos courtesy of the Tuttles and Caleb Wallace.

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