Christopher “Topher” Grubb is a friend of mine who lives in Palm Beach. His late father was one of the most talented show jumping riders of all time. His mother is also one of the most successful and respected equestrians of the modern era. I’ve known Topher’s family since before he was born. During the winter I see Topher often because our bungalows are on the same street in the Palm Beach Polo Club. His stunning Jeep is always parked in the driveway and over the last three years, I have watched him create one of the coolest and most thoughtful Jeeps on the road. Serena, as his Jeep is affectionately known, has evolved and developed into a masterpiece. This Jeep is truly a one-of-kind labor of love. The time, care, and passion Topher has put into Serena really shows. Few Jeeps I’ve seen actually take your breath away—Serena commands attention yet she is subtly low-profile at the same time. This Jeep has taste and class.
Topher is a consummate “car guy” and is thus methodical and very particular about any upgrades and accessories that are added to Serena. He ponders upgrades for months (or even years) before they make the cut and are ultimately installed on Serena. Topher carefully compares product quality and considers functionality, aesthetics and overall fit. Above all, he is patient about what he replaces or adds to Serena.
Recently Topher agreed to share his Jeep project with Turtle Garage. I asked him to photograph Serena and summarize his many modifications. What follows is Topher’s summary of project Serena.
Serena, by Topher Grubb
My first Jeep is named Serena after my first crush when I was eleven years old. Since as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted a Jeep. The color “Anvil” was an easy decision and it is still my favorite. All my modifications were carefully thought through and carefully researched. I’ve learned through experience that cheap or quick decisions will always come back to haunt you. For example, it took over two years to fall in love with the right bumpers for Serena. I was slightly hesitant on purchasing the milled rims but this decision actually started a trend of subtly adding grays and silvers to the Jeep. Given Serena’s suspension configuration, 37″ tires are really the smallest size I could install. While 22″ rims may be frowned upon by some, I believe the more rim the better!
Lighting is just as important on a Jeep as it is in a home or restaurant. Lighting options for Jeeps are abundant. I see no need for double stack 50″ light bars across the windshield. These configurations cause turbulence on the highway and are stylistically dated. Rigid Industries and JW Speaker may be more expensive but their quality is unparalleled and components like these are worth every penny.
I installed 5.13 gears to increase power and throttle response because you inevitably loose some power when you add a few hundred pounds of accessories to any vehicle. Gear upgrades may not be as urgent to those who have yet to blow a drive shaft or stripped a spider gear, but trust me this is a crucial mechanical upgrade.
Banks Power is a great company that performs extensive exhaust system research and development. I wanted performance with subtle looks and no in-cab drone noise. Serena is currently running 3.5″ of lift. I find this is to be enough lift for now, however, I may add an inch in the future.
Modifications Performed to Serena:
The subject vehicle is a 2014 Jeep JK Sahara Unlimted painted in Anvil. All work has been performed by DV8 Motorsports
- Go Rhino front and rear bumpers
- 3.5″ Rubicon Express suspension lift
- Fox shocks with reservoirs
- Fox 2.0 steering stabilizer
- JW Speaker headlights and taillights
- 5.13 G2 gears with Poison Spyder diff covers
- AFE air intake and throttle body spacer
- Banks Power Monster exhaust system
- Oracle LED side mirrors
- 20″ Rigid Industries hood mounted spot
- x4 Rigid Industries wheel well rock lights
- Custom smoked side markers / indicators
- Rampage door handles
- Amp Research powered side steps
- 22″ 12″ XD Grenade rims (black/milled)
- 37″ by 13.5″ Nitto Trail grappler tires
- Terra Flex stand alone spare tire carrier
- Carolina Metal Masters grab handles with detachable side mirrors and locking light bolts hood spotlight
- All speakers replaced with JL Audio mids and highs plus two 8″ subs in custom box