**The theme for this week’s build is: just go for it (a little reminder we can always use, right?). We had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris Roell, the General Manager of the Northridge 4×4 Colorado location to talk about his build (wait, actually his wife’s…more on that later), Project Mushu JK. This 2013 2-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a beauty that went from bone stock to badass. Read the full story below! **
How did you get into the Jeep scene?
Basically I started when I was a kid. I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there wasn’t much to do there except play in the woods and mud. It kind of just grew into a passion from there. I got out of the scene a bit when I was in the military.
I moved to Colorado back in 1999 and was out in the mountains and a Jeep just sort of seemed like a natural fit.
And everything just kind of evolved from there.
Tell us the story about Project Mushu. How did the ride come to be?
Honestly…it’s my wife’s Jeep (technically). She had a TJ and decided and we didn’t need two Jeeps because we were always together, so we got rid of that one. Well, I had 4-door JK and we went out to Crooked Canyon and I made the mistake of letting her drive my rig for a few minutes and that was all it took.
As soon as we got home, she found a red 2-door that she liked. We actually ended up picking it up the same day we got back from the trail.
She’s had a couple Jeeps before, and she liked them, but it wasn’t something she felt like she had to have…until she saw this one.
Now, how about the build process?
It was one of those things where we went ot the dealership and it was 100% bone stock, it had never been wheeled before. So we ended up with it and it’s actually been through a couple of different stages in it’s life. First, it had a 2-inch lift kit and 35-inch tires on it. Then, it went to 38-inch tires and a 6-inch stretch in the rear. And then it went full on ridculousness…Dyna 60s on the truck and all that.
And as you know Jeeps are never finished, but to get it where it is right now it was probably about a 4-5 month process. From collecting the parts we needed to building axles to doing the actual work itself, we got it built up at Northridge 4×4 here in Colorado.
All of it was done after hours and on the weekends…no body around but me and the Jeep basically.
We only ran into a few hiccups, haha. In particular, with rear coilover set up. The coilover towers are frenched into the frame so that actually eliminated where the factory rear trackbar mounts. So I ended up having to figure out how to make that work. There were a bunch of little things like that I’ve never seen done before that we had to work through.
What are most proud of this build?
Honestly, I think I’m most proud of the fact that you don’t know exactly what you’re looking at.
You have to do a double take. You walk by and you have to stop and just give it a second look.
With all the matched paint armour and everything, people don’t actually notice all the details until the walk by. It’s fun to watch their face and they stop and are like “wait a minute, what am I looking at?” It’s super funny because you totally know when it happens.
What’s your favorite place you’ve take this build to ride?
My favorite trails in local Colorado are Wheeler Lake and Spring Creek. As far as favorite place to ride, Moab is always awesome. But, I like wheeling everywhere because different trails bring different challenges.
This Jeep in particular has been to Moab, Colorado, Michigan, Tennessee, etc…it’s been all over the place.
Tell us a bit about the Northridge 4×4.
Well, I was a product rep at the time when I got a phone call from a friend who was asking me if I wanted to get more involved in the industry about 2 years ago. He told me that David, the President and Founder of Northridge 4×4 was looking for a General Manager in the Colorado location and he suggested I give David a call. So I ended up calling David and the next morning I was sitting in the office talking to him and just like that a few weeks later, I was sitting in a desk.
One of my favorite things about this position and the brand is seeing someone come in when they bring their Jeep in to get some work done, and their reaction when you give it back to them. It’s rewarding almost…it’s a super cool feeling to know that you helped to provide that level of excitement.
You know almost instantly how they’re feeling when they get it back and it’s an awesome feeling.
We’re still growing every day. We very much still a grassroots company…we make sure to treat everyone who walks through the front door like their family. And I think that’s what separates us from some of the other guys. We’re not paid on comission or anything like that. I’d rather give you the correct advice then have you just spend a dollar with me. I feel like if we take care of every customer and treat them like family, then they’re going to come back.
What’s one piece of advice you have for beginners or people looking to get into wheeling?
If you have an idea in your head, don’t be afraid to go for it. There was a lot of stuff that was floating around in my head for years and it took forever for me to actually do something about it. And when I finally did it, it was so rewarding and it came out exactly how I wanted it.
So I encourage everyone to just set a goal and do things to reach that goal. Don’t just sit around and think “I wish I could do this…,” just go for it! Don’t want for tomorrow.
And there it is, guys! From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like Chris and his builds are slowing down anytime soon. And we know that whatever he gets his hands on will turn into wheeling magic. Chris told us there’s talks of a Jeep Gladiator on the horizon, so we’re excited to see what masterpiece he puts together next. If you’re into Mushu (just like we are), be sure to show his build and this article some love!