Ethos: The characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.
Understanding what you want your Jeep to do will provide you with a map for your build. Are you wanting a capable all round good looking ride, an expedition style set-up for exploring all kinds of terrain or a capable rock crawler? By build, I am referring to modifying of your Jeep to enhance it's capability.
In it's stock form, a Jeep is capable of taking you places, over tough terrain that would most likely surprise you! As a beginner, I found that the all terrain prowess of the stock Jeep to be more capable than my driving skill. In fact, I think it's good advice to spend some time with your Jeep in stock form to gain an understanding of what it can do off road, as you work at refining your off road wheeling skills.
With regard to my build, I knew early on what direction I wanted to take. I wanted a Jeep that could practically do it all. I wanted a Jeep that could comfortably cruise down the interstate at 80+ mph, and then tackle the toughest trails. I wanted my wife feel comfortable driving it. I've heard various people say to me, hey it's a lifted Jeep, it's bound to handle poorly, wander all over the road, give you vague, if non existent steering feel, etc.. To that I say nonsense...that kind of Jeep has not been set-up properly.
Let me provide a little background on my self, that will help you understand how I approached building my Jeep. Prior to buying my jeep, I drove a 2012 JCW Mini Cooper roadster, known as an R59. I still own this car. To describe it aptly, would be to call it a go-cart. It's small, powerful, extremely quick to react to steering inputs, brakes hard enough to have the seatbelt leave a mark on your body...you get the idea. I did a lot of modifications to this vehicle to improve many aspects of its performance. In search of more performance, I added an intake, upgraded intercooler, down pipe, hi-flow cat, full Akrapovic exhaust, performance tune/maps, full suspension work, etc..
The tuning work done on my r59 taught me a lot about performance gains and vehicle tuning. Any vehicle can be made better. When manufacturers release vehicles to the public, it's always with the vehicle being set-up by the engineers to reach a very broad spectrum of the buying public. This build for the "middle", nearly always leaves room for better performance, if we choose parts wisely.
Ok, back to building Jeeps. I was trying to illustrate with the Mini example that with careful parts selection, the Jeep too can be improved upon. I believe the key to a successful build is doing your best trying to figure out what you want to achieve with your Jeep. Try to build for your end game, the best you can. This approach can save you from doing things twice.
Researching the parts is another key element to this. Jeepers are a very friendly group, who love to share. There is so much info on the Jeep build forums to help you get acquainted with parts, part systems, etc.. One of the very first questions a new Jeeper asks usually goes like this, "I want to lift my Jeep, whats the best lift?". The answer to this question is this, there really is no one best lift. More questions need to asked, and answered to get to a good choice in lifts, a lift that is right for you. Try to let this one principle guide your parts selection...do not un-engineer your Jeep. By that, I mean let's not undo all the great engineering that went into the factory design and engineering of your jeep by selecting bad parts. In selecting a new lift(suspension), make sure you get this part right.
And now finally, back to the build Ethos for my Jeep. This "do it all" style of build is known as an Expedition style build. A Jeep that can cruise swiftly down the interstate, tackle some mighty tough trails, carry a lot of gear on-board to provide a platform for camping, trekking, exploring, etc....you name it! So, explore my 'expedition builds' website, and follow along as I build up my 2016 Wrangler Hard Rock to explore some of the best trails on the planet.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I have putting it all together!