2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport And Unlimited Rubicon: Car Show Crushers

Built for cruising the strip rather than crushing rocks, these two Jeeps trade terrain for trophies.

Story: Will Sabel Courtney

Photography: Will Stern

It’s a Jeep thing, the SUV brand’s old motto goes—you wouldn’t understand. Well, a fair number of Jeep fans probably wouldn’t understand these two Wranglers. Jeep guys are the kind of fanatics who screamed bloody murder when their beloved off-roader went from round headlights to square ones; trying to convince them of the merits of 26-inch skinnies or a battle arch of amplifiers behind the rear seats would be a P90X-intense exercise in futility.

But that’s the beautiful thing about the world of custom cars: There’s room for every look or vision, just as long as it’s well executed. Even between the custom Wranglers on these pages, there are differing opinions on how a proper show-quality Jeep should be rendered.

Take the factory orange Jeep, for starters. MC Customs of Miami, Florida, whipped it up for baseball sensation Jose Reyes, who was inspired by MC’s earlier yellow Wrangler build (featured in RIDES DEC/JAN 2013). That whip stood out in part for forsaking the traditional choice of beefy off-road wheels and tires for Savinis wrapped in skinnies—a look that caught Reyes’ eye. “He saw the yellow one and he liked it,” Jhulio Tadeo, president and owner of MC Customs, says. “Rather than the off-road [look], he wanted something…different.”

But the yellow Wrangler also stood out for, well, being yellow. “The yellow one was a little overdone,” says Paul Rosa, MC Customs’ director of business development. This orange example is just as eye-catching, but in Paul’s opinion, it’s a little more stylish than its lemony-fresh predecessor.

Ultimate Auto, on the other hand, clearly has no problems using sunlike shades on their Wrangler. Their rig is clad in no fewer than three different kinds of gold paint; matte, gloss and candy all make appearances on it. This Jeep’s mission is a little different than MC Customs’ sport-ute. While the orange off-roader was made for one specific client, the golden gravel-crusher is a shop car that exists to show off Ultimate’s skills. “We’ve been building a ton of Jeeps for athletes,” Joe Labon, owner of Ultimate Auto, says, adding that the company will sometimes loan out this whip to VIP customers so they can get a taste of the Ultimate life.

While the gold paint will draw eyes during the day, this Jeep is still capable of attracting attention after the sun sets—thanks to three light bars, projector headlamps and lights tastefully molded into the fender caps. And if that still doesn’t impress, there’s enough audio in back to do a Metallica concert justice, much of it tastefully integrated into the sweeping arch in the trunk.

So is one of these rigs superior to the other? Well, call us Swiss, because we’re declaring our neutrality in this particular case. Both of these Jeeps possess all the quality a truly great custom car deserves: killer audio, eye-popping paint, a quality build and a hefty helping of originality. We’re calling this one a tie—but the great thing about opinions is everyone’s entitled to their own.

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport

Performance: 4-inch Pro Comp USA suspension lift with candy gold remote reservoir Fox shocks; Borla cat back exhaust system

Exterior: BASF Glasurit matte gold paint with gloss trim; candy gold paint; MetalCloak fender flares custom welded/molded to body; custom bumpers front and rear with custom tubing work; custom spare tire eliminator plate with “Jeep” logo brake light; Custom AMP Research motorized side steps; Rigid Industries 10-inch LED hood light, 20-inch LED bumper light, 50-inch LED windshield light, SMR lights custom molded into front fender, SMR reverse lights, custom light brackets for hood, windshield, and reverse lights; J.W. Speaker LED headlights; sPOD lighting controller; Ultimate Auto design custom panoramic roof panels

Interior: Ferrari Daytona-style leather and suede seats; rear seats custom modified from bench to buckets; front and rear custom door panels with painted speaker inserts; custom amp rack and floor panel in rear cargo area

Ice: Alpine INE-Z928HD 8-inch in dash double-DIN custom molded into dash; four pairs of JL Audio C3-650 component speakers in factory locations and custom molded into the door panels, four 10W6V3 subwoofers in a custom-built, roll-bar-mounted enclosure, two HD600/4 amplifiers, two HD1200/1 amplifiers; Stinger Electronics interconnect wiring, batteries and upgraded alternator

Wheels/Tires: 24-inch Vellano VKU wheels; Interco SS-M16 tires, 400/14.50/24

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Performance: Custom exhaust

Exterior: AEV aftermarket hood; CNC cut custom “La Melaza” logo badges; electric side steps; train horn; police sirens; grille, door handles, smoked front and rear lights, and side mirrors custom painted to match exterior paint; HID lights top and bottom

Interior: Interior accents (steering wheel, dash pieces, tweeters) painted to match stock orange paint; custom two-tone leather seats; custom logo embroidery on headrests

Ice: Pioneer AVIC-X940BT head unit; JL Audio 15-inch subs; Arc Audio amps; custom fabricated sound system

Wheels/Tires: 26-inch Vellano VRU wheels; Lexani LX-NINE tires, 205/30/26

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