Reborn – The Synergy Manufacturing 1971 Jeepster Commando JK

When you search for “restorod,” it’s always muscle cars with LS-swaps. Synergy Manufacturing did more than a swap with Jeep’s original muscle car.

The Video

Rough Start

Life for this 1971 Jeepster Commando wasn’t easy. Dave Schlossberg – President and CEO of Synergy Manufacturing – came across it when he was searching CraigsList for a new project. He wanted to showcase their products and purchased it for $2500. Unfortunately, it needed a lot of work to make it look passable.

That’s when he and his team over at Synergy came up with a plan: remove the cancer, work the body, and install a brand-new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK frame. No, this frame didn’t come from another wrecked JK nor did they salvage one. They called up their local dealer and ordered a frame straight from Jeep. You can do this, too, just be prepared to shell out about $1200 or more. Your mileage may vary.

Frame Mods

It would have been awesome if you could just plop a brand new JK frame under an old Jeep, let alone a Jeepster Commando. However, they needed to shorten it to fit the 101-inch wheelbase. Even as you crawl under it, you can’t tell how it was done. Well, if you’re not a JK enthusiast, anyway.

Body Mods

With the metal already cut up to fix rust, the body was further modified to fit the larger, 35×12.50R17 Nitto Ridge Grapplers. The wheels used for mockup were just a set of 17-inch JK Unlimiteds, but it properly sits on a set of Wheel Vintiques 17×9 Smoothie wheels with custom red pinstriping work done on their lips.

Once the body was finished, it was sent to San Luis Autobody in San Luis Obispo, California and sprayed in Firecracker Red.

The Finished Product

The custom front bumper houses a set of Baja Designs LED lights, with their Squadron-Rs flanking each side of the Warn Industries Zeon 8-S winch. The rest of the front body is old Jeepster, but the Be Cool custom radiator hints at what’s lurking under that classic Jeep grille.

Restorod Worthy Engine

Open that Jeepster’s hood, and you’ll find the GM Vortec 6000 LQ4, a generation three V8 iron block with a displacement of six-liters when it was stock. Fitment required extra sheet metal work done to the firewall, but as you can see, it was well worth it. A custom, straight intake leads to the GM factory intake manifold.

The engine was basically refreshed on the inside by Roslan’s Performance, but the heads were replaced by a better flowing set from Texas Speed and Performance. Rocking their valve springs open is a Tooley Racing camshaft and the Hooker Headers send those spent gasses through a custom, side-exit exhaust system.

In front of the Optima Redtop Battery is a Switch Pros SP8100 system to control the lights, fridge, Accuair on-board air compressor, and other switchable components.

Driving Comforts

Making sure to keep with the updated, but classic appearance the interior was fully redone using the original seats with custom leather. Even the doors are still factory with roll-up side and pop-out quarter glass windows.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, you’re greeted by a wood-rimmed Grant steering wheel on a Flaming River steering column. The classy looking gauges are modern Auto Meter parts while an Alpine Audio system installed by Drive Customs tries its best to drown out the roar of the LQ4.

The diamond double stitch on the seats was done by San Luis Auto Interiors. It may appear to be a manual transmission, but that is a Lokar shifter with matching transfer case shifters for the Advanced Adapters Atlas II.

Under Chassis

Stock JK Rubicon Dana 44 axles are used both front and rear, even retaining the stock electronic lockers with 4.10 gears, but are upgraded to handle the abuse like a proper off-road truck should. The front axle has a Synergy Manufacturing truss spanning to each spring seat. A Nitro Gear front cover adds strength over the original Dana 44 front cover.

A Synergy Stage Three suspension system is used on both ends of the chassis with the Fox Racing Shocks steering stabilizer smoothing out the motions of the Synergy Heavy Duty Tie Bar and High-Steer kit.

A set of RCV Axles axle shafts offer more steering angle and strength over the Dana set. Torque is sent from the transfer case through a pair of JE Reel drive shafts.

Front Suspension

Proper ride and height is accomplished by a combination of Synergy Manufacturing three-inch springs and Fox Racing Shocks 2.5-inch diameter shocks that feature remote reservoirs and dual-speed adjustable compression adjusters.

Under Body Armor

Protection of critical components, like the Tilden Motorsports oil pan, are all done by Synergy Manufacturing skid plates. Even the Gearstar custom-built GM 4L80E and Atlas II 4.3 transfer case gets protection from rocks and trail debris.

Rear Suspension

Moving to the back – while also admiring the custom Wheels Vintiques and Nitto Tires – we find another stock Rubicon Dana 44 and Synergy Truss System. The Synergy Stage Three kit includes an adjustable track bar and relocated mount for the axle. Heavy-duty shock mounts also allow the longer Fox Racing 2.5 shocks to fit properly under the modified JK frame and Dana axle.

You’ll also find another Nitro Gear differential cover and just see the Synergy gas tank skid plate protecting the custom fuel tank from Tanks, Inc.

It’s The Definition of RestoRod

While Camaros, Mustangs, Challengers, and even the odd Model T will get the restorod treatment, it’s great to see something different. The truck and Jeep worlds need more builds like this. While the ratrod desert truck and overbuilt mall crawler are cool, old trucks with off-road and hot rod modifications like the Synergy Jeepster Commando deserve the same attention.

I think the world needs more builds like this and hopefully we’ll see more.

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Justin Banner

Justin Banner, Lead Editor and Founder of Carbage Online, has been involved with the automotive media and industry in many capacities and now tackles publication ownership with CarbageOnline.com. Prior to that, he has freelanced for top online publications of modern media that include Speedhunters, MotoIQ, Super Street Online, Hot Rod Magazine and many others. All due to his nearly 20 years experience as a mechanic, service writer, and technical support in the automotive industry. Justin is also a Journalist Level member of the Motor Press Guild - an industry recognized entity of professional automotive journalists - since 2015.