That’s right, we went after that low-hanging fruit of a headline. Just be glad we opted not to pepper the rest of this article with Styx references. And if you get that joke, apologies for the endless loop of the song “Mr. Roboto” now stuck in your head.
Speaking of Kilroy—the military-themed Jeep you see here—it almost didn’t make it onto these pages. Built by Rugged Ridge, Kilroy was created for last year’s SEMA Show, a trade event devoted to presenting the latest and greatest automotive aftermarket goods. So, you know, it’s a place to check out everything from Batman-themed floor mats and LED windshield wipers to bearded old men whose idea of fashion is a Hawaiian shirt covered in ’57 Chevys.
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And the vehicles themselves, while they may look cool and stylish, are often built more for the climate-controlled show floor than the great outdoors. Since we’re all about featuring rides that can get you outta town when SHTF, there’s no way we’d talk about something that was all show and no go.
But then the Rugged Ridge PR team sweetened the deal a bit: “You can do whatever you want with it. Just try and keep it shiny-side-up.”
So that’s exactly what we did. We teamed up with photographer and off-road enthusiast Mike Shin to see just how far we could push the capabilities of this mean green Jeep. Could it handle a bit of dirt? Or, like so many bro-dozers before it, would it crack under the pressure of facing off against a rather intimidating speed bump?
After a bouncy 90-minute drive through traffic, we arrived at our photo spot—an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreational area that is packed with inclines, descents and plenty of dirt. “It’s an easy trail,” Mike said. “Anyone with a bit of off-road experience can get up and down it with no problem.”
Well, Mike’s definition of “easy” radically differs from ours. To get to these photo spots, Mike had us climbing trails with a difficulty rating of 8 or 9 out of 10. Trail markers featured the ominous black diamond—similar to the one you see on ski slopes—with the added bonus of a jagged line slashing through. You know, to truly drive home the message that this path was extra dangerous and stuff.
We pushed Kilroy up and down steep single-track grades, fighting our own feeling of self-preservation as we climbed seemingly vertical, boulder-strewn trails. And when we finally arrived at the summit, we were thoroughly shaken and stirred—both literally and figuratively. As we regained our composure, Mike casually grabbed his gear out of his own truck, lit a cigarette and nonchalantly captured these epic beauty shots.
And here’s where we confirm why this ride is worthy of Ballistic.
This terrain-conquering machine is built from a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, a supremely capable off-roader in stock form. Aftermarket parts manufacturer Rugged Ridge actually built Kilroy live on the SEMA show floor in 2013, enlisting the help of technical school students. So while most bug-out rides take weeks or years to build, Kilroy was completed in a matter of days.
While that extra manpower surely helped speed the build process along, having access to the Rugged Ridge parts bin certainly helped, too. A subsidiary of Omix-ADA, Rugged Ridge offers a huge number of aftermarket parts for every Jeep built from 1941 onward. And all the parts featured on Kilroy are engineered to use the factory mounting points, so no additional drilling or welding is needed. If you’ve got a few wrenches, a few bucks and some time, you can build your very own version of Kilroy in your garage.
Rugged Ridge estimates that it would cost between $75,000 and $80,000 to replicate this build. Of course, that includes the vehicle, new body panels, custom paint, 20-inch wheels and more. That’s a bit more than most can afford, so we asked Rugged Ridge to suggest a more budget-friendly option.
Henk Van Dongen, Rugged Ridge’s director of marketing, suggested the following: “Since Kilroy is built on the Jeep Rubicon platform, it is already quite capable off-road out of the factory. I would certainly suggest going with our Hurricane fender flares, a bumper setup and a lift kit. This allows you to run bigger tires to tackle larger obstacles, and the bumpers are always good protection.”
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As it sits, Kilroy has just the right blend of show and go. It’s one bad mamma jamma that catches attention wherever it goes, and it’s got the capability to get you to areas lesser vehicles fear to tread. Throw some storage containers and your favorite survival gear in the back, and you’ve got a ride ready to get you the hell out of Dodge when “it” hits the fan. And when that day comes, who knows, maybe Chevy-themed Hawaiian shirts will finally look cool.
KILROY SPECS — The Base Ride: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
- Rugged Ridge Exo-Top for 4-Door Wrangler
- Rugged Ridge Performance Vented Hood with black aluminum hood catches
- Rugged Ridge Hurricane Flat Fender Flare Kit (front and rear)
- Rugged Ridge XHD Modular Snorkel
- Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille with Star Insert
- Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille Star Insert
- Rugged Ridge Euro Guards for headlight, taillight and turn signals
- Rugged Ridge Door Mirrors
- Rugged Ridge Smoked LED Taillight Set
- Rugged Ridge Hood Light Bar
- Rugged Ridge 3.5” Round LED Driving Lights
- Rugged Ridge Windshield Mount Light Bar
- Rugged Ridge Light Bar Lowering Kit
- Rugged Ridge 7” Round HID Off-Road Lights with painted covers
- Rugged Ridge All Terrain Modular Front Bumper with Stubby Front Bumper Ends
- Rugged Ridge All Terrain Double X Striker Mini-Stinger
- Rugged Ridge Winch Plate
- Rugged Ridge Aluminum XHD Rear Bumper Pods
- Rugged Ridge XHD Gen II Swing and Lock Tire Carrier
- Rugged Ridge Off-Road Jack Mounting Bracket
- Rugged Ridge Off-Road Jack Handle Retainer Straps
- Rugged Ridge Performance 10,500-Pound Off-Road Winch with synthetic rope
- Rugged Ridge Winch Cable Stopper
- Hi-Lift Off-Road Jack
- 3.6-Liter V-6 Engine
- Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Off-Road Axle-Back Exhaust System
- Rugged Ridge Reusable Air Filter
- Rugged Ridge Drakon 20 x 9 wheelsBF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A 37 x1 2.50 x 20 tires
- Rugged Ridge RRC Rocker Guards
- Rugged Ridge Evaporator Tank Skid Plate
- Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Transfer Case Skid Plate
- Rugged Ridge Lower Control Arm Skid Plate Kit
- Rugged Ridge Engine and Transmission Skid Plate
- Rugged Ridge Steering Component Skid Plate
- Rugged Ridge Frame Brace Kit
- Rugged Ridge 4” Lift Kit with Shocks
- Alloy USA Ring and Pinion Set, 5.13 Ratio (front and rear)
- Rugged Ridge Inverted Drag Link
- Rugged Ridge Adjustable Trackbar
- Rugged Ridge Drop Pitman Arm
- Rugged Ridge Steering Stabilizer
- Rugged Ridge Front and Rear Drive Shafts
- Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Differential Covers
- Rugged Ridge Slotted and Drilled front and rear disc brakes
- Rugged Ridge Dash Multi-Mount System
- Rugged Ridge Floor Liners, Front and Rear
- Rugged Ridge Cargo Liner, Black
- Rugged Ridge A-Pillar 4-Switch Pod Kit
- Rugged Ridge Rear Seat Organizer
- Rugged Ridge Neoprene Front Seat Protector Vests
- Rugged Ridge Neoprene Rear Seat Cover
- Rugged Ridge Seat Back Trail Bag
- Rugged Ridge Front Headrest Grab Handles, Black
- Rugged Ridge Rear Side Grab Handles
- Rugged Ridge Sun Visor Organizers