SEMA Show Highlights

Synergy Manufacturing’s ’70 Jeepster Commando Named Winner of Life is Better Off-Road Build Competition

By SEMA Editors

Synergy Manufacturing’s ’71 Jeepster Commando was named the winner of the third-annual “Life is Better Off-Road” vehicle-build competition.
Dave Schlossberg (center) of Synergy Manufacturing poses for a photo op with the panel of judges.

Transamerican Auto Parts (TAP) named the winner of the third-annual “Life is Better Off-Road” vehicle-build competition yesterday at the 2017 SEMA Show. This year’s best presented, truly off-road capable truck, Jeep or SUV on display at the Show as deemed by an elite panel of off-road industry experts, is Synergy Manufacturing’s ’71 Jeepster Commando built on a ’17 Jeep JK Unlimited chassis.

The ceremony, held at the Pro Comp/Transamerican Auto Parts SEMA Show booth, was hosted by world-famous KROQ DJ Jay “Lightning” Tilles alongside the panel of judges featuring some of the most distinguished names in off-road vehicle engineering and development, fabrication, journalism and motorsports.

“Synergy’s Jeepster Commando captures the essence of the Life is Better Off-Road Award for its on- and off-road capabilities and the perfect blend of modern 4x4 technology and vintage, attention grabbing style,” said Transamerican Auto Parts President and CEO Greg Adler. “There was clearly a lot of thought, effort and skill put into this build and with so many over-the-top trucks and Jeeps on display at the Show, this simple, clean, well-executed project represents exactly what this award is all about.”

According to Dave Schlossberg of Synergy Manufacturing, his team wanted to create a stock-looking Jeep that remained 100% functional as an off-road vehicle while bringing out the exquisiteness of vintage Jeep Iron. To achieve this, the team began with a ’71 Jeepster Commando that had seen better days and mated it to a brand-new Jeep JKU Chassis. With nearly 50 years separating these two Jeeps, Schlossberg set out to keep the stock appearance and the Jeepster’s 101-in. wheel base while completely modifying the frame and suspension.

“We want to thank Transamerican Auto Parts for hosting this award. I want to say thank you to everyone who had a part of making this project come to life and all of the partners who came together to support this build,” said Schlossberg. “It was truly a team effort!”

The select panel of judges featured off-road icons and personalities, including off-road champion and vehicle builder Casey Currie, DIY fabricator and racer Bill Caswell, fabricator and vehicle builder Rob “Tinbender” Park, celebrated Trophy Truck developer and builder Jeff Geiser, content director for the Truck Trend Network Sean P. Holman, and editor and publisher for 4 Wheel Parts’ Off-Road Adventures (ORA) magazine Craig Perronne.

Entries were submitted up until just days before the SEMA Show began, and semi-finalists were selected based on criteria, such as off-road reliability and capability, quality of craftsmanship, real-world functionality and overall vehicle presentation. From this field, one truck/SUV and one Jeep were chosen as finalists competing to be awarded as the most authentic off-road-capable vehicle at the 2017 SEMA Show.

The Jeepster Commando will receive a professional photo shoot, a cover feature and multi-page vehicle spotlight in ORA magazine. Additionally, the vehicle will be recognized across the spectrum of Transamerican social media and digital channels, and will be displayed in feature locations at TAP-sponsored events, tradeshows and Truck & Jeep Fests, along with the benefits of extensive partner media coverage of the award. The semi-finalists will also be included in the full media campaign and receive ribbons in recognition of their accomplishment.

Semi-finalists for the 2017 Life is Better Off-Road Award:

  • Daystar – CJ10 Honcho
  • The SkyJacker – ’66 Bronco
  • Fear One – ’18 Chevy Colorado
  • Hellwig Suspension Products – ’17 Ford F-350 XLT,
  • Chris Payne – Chevy Colorado
  • Chris Payne – Prerunner Bronco
  • Doetsch Off-Road – ’17 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
  • IT&A Off Road Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Build specifications for the Synergy Manufacturing Jeepster Commando:

  • Motor: LQ4 mild build with cam and heads
  • Transmission: Gearstar-built 4L60E
  • Transfer Case: Atlas T-Case 4.3/1
  • Axles: Stock JK Rubicon axles, 4.10 gears, factory e-lockers
  • Winch: Warn
  • Suspension: Synergy Stage 3, 3.0-in. lift
  • Steering: Synergy high steer with Fox stabilizer
  • Drivelines: JE Reel 1350 ZCV front and rear
  • Auxiliary Lighting: Baja Designs
  • Audio: full custom Alpine with sub, install Drive Customs
  • Wheels: Wheel Vintiques smoothies
  • Tires: Nitto 35/17 Ridge Grapplers