You 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.
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.
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.
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.
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