Birth of the NotaRubicon (The Build)

In 2014 my primary “truck” was a 2001 Toyota Highlander. It served me well for over 10 years but in mid 2014 I started planning a year-long adventure at Salton Sea and the Highlander just could not get me into some of the tough spots around its shoreline.

I was torn between the nice, smooth ride of Toyota FJ Cruiser or the capability of a Jeep Wrangler. After a few weeks of research I finally decided that a Jeep Wrangler was the right choice and after a few more weeks of shopping I found a used 2012 Orange Crush JKU (4-door) Sport with 28,000 miles and zero options. It had a 6-Speed manual transmission, 31″ tires, no electric windows, no electric door locks, and the worst-souding stereo I had ever listened to. I hated the bright-orange “crush” color but at $23k it was the best deal I could find.

As I drove my new Jeep home, I had no desire or plans to do any upgrades…

The NotaRubicon Jeep on the sales lot
The NotaRubicon as a baby

I didn’t really want or feel the need to do any “mods” or upgrades, but I did quickly get all of the windows tinted. Shortly after that, I realized that the stock gas-cap looked lame, so I installed a gas-cap door.. Then, GrabBars.. Not long after that, I put in some HotHead Headliners.

That bright Orange Crush color that I hated so much at first was starting to grow on me and it was around this time that I started to realize “I can make this MY Jeep” … and so it began..

photo of the NotaRubicon when it was stock
The NotaRubicon when it was 2 weeks old

And so it begins

Because I was spending a lot of time at Salton Sea my biggest concern was getting stuck in the sand or mud so I learned about airing-down and purchased a little air-compressor and some MaxTrax..
…At the time I thought that was all I would need…

I wanted to learn how to use the Jeep so I went on a few fire roads and a did a few very easy group-runs.. Learning the capabilities of the Jeep, which were far beyond my capabilities..

When the NotaRubicon was 3 weeks and 1-day old, I blacked-out the grill. First with Plastidip, then a few weeks later, with bedliner. I was really liking the black-on-orange look.

The grill on the Jeep NotaRubicon painted black
Blacked-out grill looking good!

After a few months I had gone on several moderate trails including Cleghorn and Gold Mountain in Big Bear and decided that I needed to add some capabilities to the Jeep, so the following mods were done:

  • Rear Eaton Elocker
  • 1.5″ Rock Krawler Lift (actually lifted the Jeep 2″)
  • Fox 2.0 shocks
  • Quick disconnects
  • Rear Posion Spyder Diff cover
  • Advanced Adaptors Transfer-case linkage

Now I had some flex!

The Jeep flexing
I can haz flex!

I decided on only going with the 1.5″ lift (actually 2 inches) because I never planned on going with tires larger than 33″ – and I would only get those after my current 31″s wore out after a year or two. I also opted for NOT re-gearing and staying with the stock 3.73 gears also because I knew I would never go with bigger tires.

After just a few months I decided I had to upgrade to 33″ tires, so I added some new P285 70/17 Goodyear Duratracs. I had also blacked-out the door and hood hinges which added to the black-on-orange look.
I also added a front Poison Spyder diff cover, rock-rails and a hand-held Midland CB radio.The Notarubicon Jeep in the driveway

My new 33″ Duratracs lasted about 2 months before I decided that I had to upgrade to 35-in tires. I also added a few more items:

  • Rugged Ridge hood-latches
  • Front and rear bumpers
  • Rock Trac 4:10 Transfer case
  • Advance Adapters transfer case linkage kit
  • Magnaflow 17143 cat-back exhaust
  • ARB on-board twin-tank compressor
  • SPOD system
  • 4.88 Gears
  • Front axel sleeves & gussets
  • Posion Spyder hood-louver
  • Oil-pan, transmission, Evap, gas-tank and control-arm skids
  • Chromoly Tie-road
  • Steering stabilizer & flip kit
  • JE Reel front driveshaft
  • KC HiLite LED offroad lights
  • Pioneer AVH-4100NEX stereo & 10-inch powered subwoofer
  • Warn Zeon 10S winch
  • KC LED headlights
  • XRC armor fenders/corner armor
  • Upgraded clutch
  • Tailgate spare tire kit
  • Hood lock to keep it all more secure
The Jeep Wrangler NotARubicon
Behold: The NotARubicon!

..and of course, the “NotaRubicon” name was now official. Because it’s NOT a Rubicon … It’s better…

The NotARubicon with new winch and fenders
New winch, LED headlights and XRC armor fenders

After adding the fuel-tank skid, XRC armor fenders and winch, The NotARubicon gained over 350 pounds!  Because of the added weight, the 1.5 inch Rock Krawler springs have been upgraded to 2.5 inch springs. A Currie AntiRock has also been installed.

April 2016:
The State of California has finally and officially recognized TheNotARubicon and granted “NOTRUBI” license plates.

NOTRUBI California license plates
NOTaRUBIcon license plates

June 2016:
Replaced the aging BFG KM2’s with new Cooper STT Pro 35/12.50/17 tires. The new Cooper STT’s are much quieter and ride much smoother than the beat-up BF Goodrich KM2 tires.

December 2016:
Broke the rear passenger axle shaft at Calico so upgraded both shafts to Revolution Chrome-Moly.
Also a great deal on some near-new Fox 2.0 Performance Remote-Reservoir shocks.Fox Performance Series 2.0 Remote Reservoir Shocks

After breaking the front gears in the stock Dana30 twice we replaced the entire axle with a Dana Spicer Ultimate 44.
Replaced the Cooper tires with Falken Wildpeak 37×12.5 tires.


Replaced the radiator after it failed driving back from Moab. Replaced the starter after it failed a few weeks after that.. Replaced the Brake-booster after it failed a few days after that.

The 4.88 gears were no longer cutting it with the 37″ tires – particularly when crawling over rocks. Because The NotARubicon is a stick-shift it was way to easy to stall, so in September 2019 installed 5.38 gears.

Watch the Build-Video:

2 thoughts on “Birth of the NotaRubicon (The Build)

  1. Roger says:

    NOTARUBICON is sure a clever name. We enjoyed your build up is great and that video is amazing.


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