Words: Kristie Real
Photos: Roman Racela
Many enthusiasts dream of making it to SEMA, but not all succeed. Matt Hwang of So. Cal has always been a car enthusiast and a quality build was a dream of his. But Matt wanted to do more than just a run-of-the-mill and decided to create something that would also incorporate his other hobbies, which include camping and outdoor target shooting. “A badass off-road vehicle has always fit into that equation,” he admits.
“I was inspired by Roman Racela’s Silver Panda Jeep JK that was featured previously in LFTD x LVLD and that set the wheels in motion for me. Jeep just came out with the all-new JL chassis over the JK, so it was the opportune moment to start a build on the new platform. I reached out to Roman to assist me with the build process and he obliged to help me. We decided on a design concept to guide us, then carefully selected the parts, came up with a wheel design, and spent many late nights wrenching at the shop.”
With only two months before SEMA, the build team (which consisted of fellow enthusiasts) wanted to explore the potential of the new JL chassis and build a balanced vehicle with equal parts off-road and street. But with the added challenge of the platform being so new, parts were not as easy to come by with many manufacturers still in the development stage.
Matt knew he wanted something that would get people talking at the show, but also needed it to maintain its rugged functionality so he turned to tried and true companies to secure parts he knew would fit the bill. “We decided to go with something subtle and clean since we wanted the quality of the build to attract the attention versus loud and gaudy candy-paint colors,” he says.
The crew dubbed it The Buckshot mainly because of the team’s combined affinity for firearms and their build partners at DTF Off-Road wheels that custom-fabricated a set of wheels with a design that resembled the spread of buckshot from a shotgun. “The wheels are definitely the jewelry of the vehicle and stylistically sets us apart from the rest,” Matt admits.
The combination of lighting from Rigid Industries, APS, and Quake LED illuminates the night and provides clarity and visibility during all conditions. All the electronics and electrical power distribution are controlled by the sPOD Bantam touchscreen controller. For the exterior, armor protection is by WARN and Kargo Master Safari which kept the rig battle-ready at all times. Tint by DUB IR and plush leather seats by Roadwire Leather Interiors kept the interior of the cab insanely comfortable for being an off-road vehicle.
The coilover suspension lift from Skyjacker combined with the DTF Off-Road wheels and Yokohama Geolandar X-MT tires were meticulously put together to provide the proper stance and functionality he wanted. “The coilovers make everything sit precisely how it should as well as providing a silky-smooth ride quality while keeping you as planted as possible,” he admits.
“Roman and I had a chance to wheel the Buckshot through Death Valley, CA, last spring and the suspension easily soaked up all the washboard roads and obstacles that were thrown at us. It performed phenomenally while both crawling over rough terrain and doing 80mph+ on dirt roads. The X-MTs were also amazing and they had my full confidence when I pushed them through sketchy terrain. Not only did the Yokohamas perform like a champ on dirt, but also excelled on pavement. We couldn’t believe we were driving on mud tires because they were so quiet.”
The Jeep was unveiled at SEMA 2018 in the DUB LIVE! outdoor pavilion and was definitely a show stopper. From seasoned builders to industry professionals, everyone was impressed by the JL build. “Many admired the craftsmanship of the wheels and the custom parts that we fabbed for this build. Both builders and enthusiasts appreciated that with all the modifications and customization on the Buckshot, it still looked relatable as a vehicle that could be driven daily on the streets and taken to high country backroads on weekends.”
GEAR: 2018 JEEP WRANGLER JL RUBICON
TIRES / WHEELS
- 38X13.50R20 Yokohama Geolandar X-MT tires
- 20X10 Desert Tec Forged Buckshot wheels
- Skyjacker coilover suspension lift kit with external reservoir
EXTERIOR / ACCESSORIES
- Warn Industries Elite Stubby front bumper
- Warn Industries front skid plate
- Warn Industries Rock Crawler rear bumper
- Warn Industries spare tire carrier
- Kargo Master Safari Congo Pro Rack with Roof Pac
- Kargo Master Safari Kat-Walk
- Kargo Master Safari hinge steps
- Kargo Master Safari grab handles
- Desert Tec Forged carbon fiber Jeep JL engine dress-up kit
- Warn Industries ZEON 10-S winch
- Warn Industries Epic D-Ring shackle
- Factor 55 FlatLink E shackle mount
- Desert Tec Forged winch fairlead
- MagnaFlow Street Series cat-back stainless steel performance exhaust
- Superchips TrailCal tuner
- sPOD Bantam Power distribution system with touchscreen
- Rigid Industries 40” SR-Series light bar
- Rigid Industries 30” ADAPT light bar
- Rigid Industries D-Series fog lights
- APS 7in1 LED light pods
- Quake Halo LED headlights
- Desert Tec Forged LED Light Bar billet hood mounts
- DUB IR Infrared blocking window tint
- Roadwire Leather interior