The Faces of Jeep interview with Chris Strugnell

Founder of JeepBuilds


FOJ-[Natasha]: “Why did you choose Jeep?”

Chris: “Well, to be honest I never thought I’d have a Jeep. I’ve always liked them, but I grew up around race cars most of my life (drag race and stock cars) so I’ve always been into speed. Jeeps were always cool, and I thought I might one day have one as a second vehicle, but certainly not a daily driver. That changed back in 2013. My wife and I were looking for a new vehicle. I’d seen a few Jeeps on the road here in Korea but didn’t give them much thought because of their size and price (Korean roads are tight and Jeeps are a fair bit more expensive here). After test driving a new Hyundai, my wife and I saw her first Jeep, asked what it was and decided she wanted one. That was all the motivation I needed. The next week we were test driving a Jeep, a week after that we were signing the financing papers. And, as they say, the rest is history.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “How long have you been wheeling?”

Chris: “I’d been off roading a bit back in Canada (I grew up in the country) but never had a chance to get behind the wheel. Since I bought my Jeep in 2014, I try to get out as often as possible exploring the mountains here.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What modifications have you done, and which companies would you suggest to others?”

Chris: “It’s been a slow process modifying my Jeep. Between the financing cost, the cost of buying and shipping parts and the fact that a lot of modifications are illegal here, after 4 years I’m still not done. So far, I’m running a Teraflex front bumper, Synergy 1.5in spacers, and a 2.5in Teraflex budget boost (soon to be upgraded to a new Teraflex lift). I was running 35in Kumho MTs, but had an issue with one wearing prematurely so I’m back on stock Rubicon tires..But they’ll be replaced within the week with 35in Vitour MTs! I have a set of RGB rock lights and was running a 50in led bar but have removed it after finding out they’re illegal here…Live and learn…

Obviously there’s lots left to do. I’m likely going to pick up a set of Jeep Hardrock front and rear bumpers and ditch my steel bumper. I have Teraflex mudflaps to install, I plan on picking up some pod lights, new headlights, I want to regear, I need some under armor, and ideally I’d LOVE to do some tuning to the turbo (I have a 2.8l CRD turbo diesel. As far as companies I’d recommend, I absolutely love the work Teraflex does and Rebel Offroad treats us Korean Jeepers well. I’m an ambassador for a few companies as well, so I’d like to recommend them to you all.”

For recovery gear, I work with Gear America Brand (@gearamericabrand on Instagram.

For camping, Deepsleep4jeeps make a custom fitted air mattress for the JKU.(@deepsleep4jeeps on Instagram).

For Jeep shirts, check out JeepTude1941. (@jeeptude1941 on Instagram)

Finally, for JeepBuilds swag, check out Jeep Daddy Inc (@jeepdaddyinc on Instagram)

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Where all have you traveled and where is your favorite place to go off-roading?”

Chris: “So far I’ve only been wheeling here in Korea really. I love playing in the mud, but have been spending more time on the rocks with some new Jeep friends here.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What Jeep events have you attended, and which ones are your favorites?”

Chris: “We have fairly large (well large for Korea) Jeep camps twice a year. I’m a member of a club here called Wrangler Mania Korea (I also run our Instagram @wranglermaniakorea). Twice a year we have gatherings with 100+ Jeeps. Each one is bigger than the last!”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Tell us about one of your most memorable Jeep adventure moments?”

Chris: “My most memorable? Probably also my most embarrassing… About a month into Jeep ownership, I decided to spend some time in a rice field (I’d been out exploring that area before). This time was different. This time was dark and in a torrential downpour. I was making my way along the trail (just wide enough for the Jeep) when I noticed a dip ahead. I got out to check out, decided I could avoid it and kept going. What I failed to see was the dip on the passenger side… Ended up sliding into a ditch and at a pretty extreme angle. Being so new, I panicked, made it worse and decided I’d need help getting it out in the morning. Come morning, my insurance company sent a tow truck. The problem? Tow trucks here run low profile/performance tires. He got stuck… So he called a buddy (in the same style truck) and he got stuck. We managed to get them both out and they left! Had to call a backhoe to get me out. Second most memorable was my magazine photoshoot last year. My buddy (@jeepaddicticon on Instagram) and I were featured in a tuning magazine. Lots of fun!”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “How has Jeep influenced your life, and what inspired you to start Jeepbuilds social media community?”

Chris: “The Jeep life has begun to take over my life. Haha. I started by looking at pics of Jeeps online, looking for inspiration. Spent (and still spend) lots of time shopping for upgrades. Then started my personal Instagram first. I started posting only my own Jeep in the beginning or pics that I’d taken of other Jeeps. After a while, people started sending me the odd picture to share. I saw some of the other Instagram pages that I followed sharing pics, but not really engaging with their followers. I decided I wanted to start a community, share my followers builds and actively engage with people.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What is the best part about running JeepBuilds?”

Chris: “The best part? The people for sure! I LOVE talking Jeep, meeting Jeepers, sharing stories and interacting with people. Now that I make and sell stickers, it puts a huge smile on my face to see them on other Jeeps around the world.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What are some of your biggest accomplishments?”

Chris: “Hmm. I’d say becoming more knowledgeable. In the beginning, I knew NOTHING about Jeeps (other than what they were). Even now, I’m FAR from an expert, but I feel confident enough to give advice and help out when I can.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What tips would you suggest to a new Jeeper?”

Chris: “Tips? Hmm. Research. Ask questions! Realize there’s no such thing as a dumb question. Get out and enjoy! Number 1: NEVER wheel alone! Number 2: Don’t rush into mods! Decide what you need before deciding what you want.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What are your future goals for yourselves and JeepBuilds?”

Chris: “I’d love to continue to see JeepBuilds grow! The sky’s the limit! Ideally I’d like to grow to the point where I could travel to the US and Canada to see Jeep events possibly as a vendor!”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Thank you Chris for sharing your JeepBuilds journey with us. Keep up the great work! Looking forward to watching JeepBuilds grow. We wish you a amazing 2019 wheeling season.”

Photo from Chris Strugnell, Questions asked by FOJ-Natasha Kokkinis & Answers from Chris Strugnell

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One thought on “JeepBuilds

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  1. A big THANK YOU once again to Natasha for taking the time to put this together! I feel honored to be a part of this wonderful Jeep community!


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