1971 Jeepster Commando

DRUM ROLL: Winner of the ‘Life is Better Off-Road’ Award is…

Transamerican Auto Parts named the winner of the third-annual Life is Better Off-Road SEMA vehicle competition. 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 the Synergy Manufacturing’s 1971 Jeepster Commando built on a 2017 Jeep JK Unlimited chassis.

The award ceremony—held at the Pro Comp/Transamerican Auto Parts SEMA Show booth on Nov. 2—featured world famous KROQ DJ Jay “Lightning” Tilles as the emcee, alongside the panel of judges featuring some of the most distinguished names in off-road vehicle engineering and development, fabrication, journalism and motorsports, according to Transamerican Auto Parts.

“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 Greg Adler, Transamerican Auto Parts president and CEO. “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 one-hundred percent functional as an off-roader while bringing out the exquisiteness of vintage Jeep Iron. To achieve this, the team began with a 1971 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, Dave set out to keep the stock appearance and the Jeepster’s 101-inch 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,” Schlossberg said. “It was truly a team effort.”

The select panel of judges featured off-road icons and personalities 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 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 and 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, an invitation to be displayed in feature locations at TAP-sponsored events, tradeshows, 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.

Build Specifications for the Synergy Manufacturing Jeepster Commando:

  • Motor: LQ4 mildly build with cam & 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" Lift
  • Steering: Synergy High Steer W/Fox Stabilizer
  • Drivelines: JE Reel 1350 ZCV Front & Rear
  • Auxiliary Lighting: Baja Designs
  • Audio: Full Custom Alpine with Sub, Install Drive Customs
  • Wheels: Wheel Vintiques Smoothies
  • Tires: Nitto 35/17 Ridge Grapplers

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

  • Daystar - CJ10 Honcho
  • The SkyJacker - 1966 Bronco
  • Fear One - 2018 Chevy Colorado
  • Hellwig Suspension Products - 2017 Ford F-350 XLT
  • Chris Payne  - Chevy Colorado
  • Chris Payne - Prerunner Bronco
  • Doetsch Off-Road -  2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
  • IT&A Off Road Jeep Wrangler Rubicon