Kenny Hauk isn’t one to live off of old accolades. Instead the master fabricator and his Hauk Designs team are always looking toward the future and thinking of new ways of push the limits on their project vehicle. “The thrill for me is in the build, so as soon as I’m done with one, I’m already thinking about the next one,” he admits. His previous Project Phóinīx was an award-winning, trail-devouring vehicle that took the off-roading industry by storm, but now the renowned mastermind is back with an entirely new Jeep that’s even more bold and brazen than ever.
“Our goal has always been to break new ground and stretch the limits with our off-road builds,” Kenny says, mentioning that Hauk Designs was the first company to install a 24-valve Cummins crate engine into a JK Wrangler.
With over eight years of experience building numerous high-powered hot-rod style rock crawlers, the 2010 Jeep JK takes inspiration and pays homage to vintage war planes from WWII and has been christened “Tomahauk”. “Those planes were amazing machines with tons of incredible details. You often see people try to emulate the style with decals and painted on rivets. Our desire was to build something truly authentic with real rivets and with real vintage airplane parts incorporated into the design.”
To perfect the authenticity of its warbird design, Kenny scoured the Internet for pictures of vintage WWII aircraft and studied the markings and cockpit designs on every vehicle that has since then incorporated cues and parts from these fighter planes and bombers. He would even spend days on end rummaging through old crates of antique parts from various sellers in search for the perfect pieces to use on his own creation.
With the exterior design fully thought out, he then pinpointed the products that would turn the JK into a vintage warbird capable of handling any terrain. As Hauk Design’s first fully hydraulic all-wheel steering build, Kenny and his crew heavily relied on their friends Sean Stapley and Matt Hodges from West Texas Off Road to design Redneck Ram hydraulic steering assist system for the JK and the result was “amazing.”
Hydraulic steering is nothing new in the off-roading world, but it has recently exploded in popularity among many builders because of its benefit in producing more steering force, which is important for 4x4s like “Tomahauk” with huge tires (44×19.50×17 Pitbull tires wrapped around 17” TIS Monster Edition wheels, to be exact), locker differentials, and the ability to properly control and steer in challenging terrain. If designed properly, a hydraulic steering system can add to one’s enjoyment of a day on the rocks or dirt.
“Many off-road racers choose this setup since it can be adjusted to suit racing or crawling, allowing for better control,” Kenny details. “However, it is not recommended for on-road use since it can be over responsive on pavement.”
Other essential modifications that help it tackle the most technical of terrains include: a Rock Krawler suspension and custom long arm system with 3” rear and 3” front stretch and 16” coilovers; Steinjäger front and rear steering arm system; 1-ton Ford Kingpin Dana 60 front axle with Artec Industries axle trusses plus Yukon gears, Grizzly locker, Yukon lockouts and shafts; and 1 ton GM 14-bolt rear axle with Dodge Dana 60 Knuckles with Yukon gears, Grizzly locker, Yukon shafts and Yukon lockouts.
To make “Tomahauk” come alive, HID projector headlights provide it with menacing red glowing eyes, while Kenny’s good friends, David and Vanessa from Encline Designs and Vané Pinstriping, did all the hand lettering and airbrushing on the Jeep’s full-aluminum body armor custom-made by River Raider Off Road. Original B-17 Flying Fortress oxygen tanks were also used as fuel tanks. Inside, an original machine gun charging handle from a B-24 bomber allows the driver to shift gears and custom JAZ Products racing seats were split in half, widened and riveted back together to look like authentic bomber seats – further displaying Kenny’s eye for intricate details in his builds.
After finding a vintage WWII radio, Kenny knew he wanted to incorporate it into the build and asked the team at Sounds So-Good Car Audio in Waynesboro, PA to design a sound system around that radio, which now controls the entire system. A few B-24 steering yoke buttons also control volume of the complete MATTS Pro Audio speaker system and track selection on the hidden head unit.
With over $100K in modifications, “Tomahauk” took a total of three months to complete, but it was still a race against the clock to complete it on time for its unveiling at the 2014 SEMA Show. “We had an overwhelming response,” Kenny said after its big debut. “It seems to draw people from all ages and backgrounds, but especially those who have actually flown in a vintage aircraft or collect airplane memorabilia from that era.”
A huge success at SEMA, Tomahauk” is scheduled to be properly tuned and tested on dirt and rocks to see what it’s really capable of at the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, UT. “We will have the Jeep completely dialed in so that it can tackle some of the nastiest trails our country has to offer. I must say, it is going to be hard to top this next year.” By: dubmagazine
2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited “Tomahauk”
Tires and Wheels
44×19.50×17 Pitbull tires
17” TIS Monster wheels