Still bummed Chrysler decided civilians in the U.S. weren't ready for the Jeep J8? Good news, then. American Expedition Vehicles – normally purveyors of American-made aftermarket off-road parts and equipment – has entered into an agreement with Chrysler that will allow AEV to sell fully assembled J8 kits right here in the United States, complete with leaf springs and military-spec tow hooks that are capable of lifting a helicopter. Yes, this machine is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Each vehicle will be sold without a powertrain, which will allow AEV to bypass all kinds of sticky red tape with the federal government. As such, the J8 MILSPEC will be sold as an off-road vehicle only. Want one for street use? Better get real familiar with the laws governing such things in your particular state. The buyer will have a choice of either a VM 2.8-liter diesel engine rated at 174 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque or a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 from Chrysler rated at 330 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. All that power will be sent through a five-speed automatic transmission on its way to a Dana 44 axle up front and a stout Dana 60 in the rear.
Options? A few, including air conditioning and your choice of either Desert Sand or Military Green paint, but the toughest part will be deciding between the five-door Unlimited body or the truck-like three-door model. AEV only has rights to sell 120 J8 MILSPEC vehicles per year, and they won't come cheap. Expect to dole out about $50K to bring one home. If that sounds like a lot for a vehicle that can't legally be driven on the street, keep in mind that it's probably well below what it would cost to otherwise replicate a machine with these kinds of capabilities. Click past the break for the official press release.
The J8 is one of the toughest vehicles in the world and, until now, it was only sold to foreign militaries and governments. A very limited number of 2010 J8's will be made available to enthusiasts in the United States exclusively from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) as the AEV J8 MILSPEC.
"Hardcore off-road enthusiasts have been asking for a vehicle like this for years, no frills and setup for a choice of diesel or V8 power and built with extra heavy-duty components," said Dave Harriton, CEO of American Expedition Vehicles. "It's certainly not for everyone, but that's all part of the appeal. Being able to offer even limited quantities to the American public is really a dream come true for AEV. First, it's a perfect match with our niche manufacturing and distribution channels, and second, the J8 is a unique part of history that we're proud to be part of."
The AEV J8 MILSPEC will be sold as a component rolling chassis. The vehicle is meant for off-road use, and as typical for component vehicles the engine and transmission will be installed by the buyer or at the buyer's direction by an independent contractor. Although AEV does not provide the powertrain, there are a number of independent AEV dealers that can supply and install either a 2.8-liter diesel engine or a 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI® engine and transmission package.
The J8 MILSPEC will be assembled in Detroit by AEV. The complete rolling chassis will be delivered painted, upholstered, fully instrumented and will include ABS brakes, heavy duty suspension and axles, exhaust, wheels and tires.
Designed for military use, the J8 was designed to pass one of the world's toughest durability cycles, which is three times more severe than what civilian applications must endure. The axles are both beefed up to a heavy duty Dana 44 front and a Dana 60 rear axle equipped with Dodge Ram brakes. The frame is built for severe use and the rear suspension uses leaf springs to facilitate more than a 2,500 lb. payload capacity and a 3,500 lb. tow rating. The J8 MILSPEC will accept two powertrain options, either a VM 2.8-liter diesel engine rated at 174 hp and 339 lb.-ft.of torque or a 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI rated at 330 hp and 375 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engine choices will use a 5 speed automatic transmission. The vehicles also have a number of military-specific components, including tow loops that are rated for helicopter use, an air filter capable of running as long as five hours in zero visibility dust storms and remote-mounted batteries. Don't look for satellite navigation or leather seats, options are limited to paint color (Desert Sand or Military Green), a choice of a three door or five door body styles and air conditioning.
The J8 MILSPEC will only be sold and warranted through AEV and its authorized network.
Interested enthusiasts can contact American Expedition Vehicles to learn more or to place an order, www.aev-conversions.com / 248-926-0256. Owners should expect to invest approximately $50,000 for a complete running vehicle, chassis plus powertrain.