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These L.O.S.T. KJs Mean Business

By Clint Rounsavall

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LOST KJYou can call them SUVs. You can call them grocery getters. You can call them whatever you want but to us they are just KJs or Jeeps. Yes, I said Jeeps. When the KJ was introduced to the public many Jeepers really shunned them. But it was not that long ago that the Cherokee and was called by all the same names and then we had the square headlight thing. And it was not that long ago that folks freaked out when they added coil spring. Coil springs on a Jeep. That's crazy. You would think the world as we know it had come to an end. At least the Liberties have round headlights.

The Lost KJ West club was started in 2002 by Wally Darbyshire and a few other key guys as a joke on the Internet. L.O.S.T. stands for " Liberty Owners Special Team. " It was really just a play on words for us KJ guys to go get lost out on a trail. But in just a short time the little joke turned into a full-on web site and KJ forum with over 350 virtual members and tons of tech info for the Liberties.

Then in March of 2003 a few of us wanted to take it just one more step forward and joined the California Association of 4WD Clubs to make our club the first official KJ club in the world (that we know of). Thanks to CA4WDC for helping us make history.

The Lost KJ West club started out with only four members but has been growing every month as the word gets out. We have some of the most modified KJs on the road today and have been showing up at places like Moab , Calico, and Big Bear.

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We had a big event in June of 2003. Located in Big Bear, California , the event ran for three days and included camping and trail riding. While we were there we did the Holcomb Creek trail with the Rock Garden and the following day we did the John Bull trail. It was a lot of fun to make it up to the top of John Bull and see the faces of other jeepers as we climbed out of a KJ. It's always fun to say, " Hey we got L.O.S.T. can you tell me what trail this is ?"

Now I know a lot of guys are still not going to like these little KJs out on the same trails with them but then there are the guys that are starting to accept them somewhat and doing trail rides with them and realizing that the KJ guys are Jeepers, as well.

When we did our Big Bear run, we ended up with 21 Jeeps and 42 people. This was our first real event that our new club hosted and we hope that next year we will have twice that many.

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We started out as a KJ club primarily but are accepting applications from anyone that wants to join. We wanted to start small to get our feet on the ground, learn a lot of things as a new club and then to host some bigger SUV events, promote our club, promote CA4WDC, and to help people get started in the fun world of off-roading.

A lot of our members are now running common things like onboard air, lockers, armor, and winches. It is still hard to buy some of the things that we need for off-roading, as a lot of aftermarket vendors have not yet geared up for the Liberties. Some companies have started making products, like All J Products, Adventure Trailers, and Daystar, who all attend our run this year and they have really stood behind the KJ guys.

All J Products stepped up to the plate and started making their famous Boulder Bars and a lot of other protection products for our Jeeps. It's really nice to have some armor under the Liberty and we have really been putting their products to the test.

Daystar has also worked with some of the guys in our club to help dial in the lift kit for the KJ.

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Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying this is the best Jeep for rockcrawling or for some of the really hardcore stuff like Sledgehammer, but for what they are, it is amazing where these KJs will go.

We have also been testing front swaybar disconnects which really make a huge difference on the articulation on the front end. They also come with a rear swaybar but almost all of our members have been pulling them off.

Liberties may have not yet earned the respect they deserve on the trails because a lot of guys have never seen one actually setup for off-road use. Suspension companies are beginning to sell kits and it's probably only a matter of time before we start seeing solid front axle kits for the KJ.

We really hope the vendors are watching because you will see more and more of us out there on the trails.

Hope to see you out on the trail.

For more information, visit www.lostkjwest.com