Caffeine&Machine cultofmachine Yard Visitor A home far from home: Jess’s Wrangler

A home far from home: Jess’s Wrangler

Want to live in a Jeep for two weeks? You’ll need some modifications. Jess Gray shows us the way.

The idea of a mobile home is nothing new. Campervans, RVs, caravans, even a big estate car with a mattress in the back – there are plenty of options if you want to combine transport with somewhere to stay, ranging from the humblest accommodation to rolling penthouse suites.

What if you want to head somewhere really wild, though? Somewhere where the roads are unsurfaced (if they’re even there in the first place)? Somewhere far from the mod-cons of urban life? Places like these can provide the greatest inspiration for people like C&M Emporium featured artist Jess Gray and her minimalist landscape works, but they require specialised kit to make a home for a few days.

Jess and her partner Harvey have just such a thing in the shape of their Jeep Wrangler, which we briefly touched on in our feature on her work. Now, it’s time for a deeper dive into this exceedingly cool overland build.

It began life innocuously enough as a standard four-door Wrangler Unlimited, one of the last of the previous ‘JK’ generation cars. This is already a solid car for the wilderness, with body-on-frame construction and a gutsy 3.6-litre V6. It’s a Rubicon model, which means extra off-road goodies like locking diffs and low-range ’box – no-brainers for more serious off-roading.

As the images make pretty clear, though, Jess’s Wrangler is no longer standard. It’s been kitted out with all the necessary gear to sustain two people on months-long adventures to beyond the middle of nowhere.

First up, ground clearance. The standard Wrangler’s is… fine. Fine for the odd rutted track, but not ideal if you’re heading somewhere really remote. A set of 37-inch off-road tyres and a three-inch lift kit from off-road suspension specialists TeraFlex endow the car with a towering stature, while cutaway steel arches leave space for the big shocks and tyres to do their thing. Reinforced bumpers from Poison Spyder and a set of beefed-up rock rails – the steel armour attached to the sills – help protect all the important bits from the rigours of serious off-roading.

That covers getting to places. What about staying in them? The Wrangler features pretty much everything you need in a home (far) away from home. There’s a specialist Bush Company roof tent and awning mounted on a Front Runner roof rack along with a row of Cibie spotlights – because it wouldn’t be an overland build without some serious lighting.

Helping make long-term travel in the Jeep not only possible but somewhat comfortable are a road shower and water tank, tailgate table and a dual battery setup. The entire back of the car has been refitted to provide a space for Jess and photographer Harvey to work while on (or off) the road.

Absolutely none of this is for show, and in the five years that they’ve owned it, Jess and Harvey have put some serious miles on the Jeep. It began with shorter trips to places like Wales and the Lake District, exploring some of Britain’s most challenging green lanes. Off the back of these trips, Harvey founded a series of adventure-centric meets under the Tents + Tread name, which put he and Jess in touch with likeminded enthusiasts who were undertaking epic trips in their overland vehicles. Since then, it’s taken them on months-long journeys to Greece, Croatia and the Pyrenees, with even longer ones in the pipeline.

Until then, it stands as an incredibly well-done reminder of one of the greatest gifts the car has given us – freedom.

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