When we say the AEV J8 MILSPEC is just like a Jeep J8 Wrangler, we don't mean a close approximation, we mean AEV buys the crates as they leave Toledo and assembles them by hand.
When the Jeep Wrangler J8 was unveiled at Jeep Camp 2008 in Germany, there were howls of protest from Jeep aficionados the world over. Here were a pair of pared-down, utilitarian Wranglers with augmented build quality to stand up to foreign military durability requirements, a diesel and Dana axles. To add insult to injury, the two-door model rode on the Wrangler unlimited chassis resulting in the defacto rebirth of the Scrambler. And yet, it wasn't for sale, not to civilians anyway. It was to be assembled in Egypt and only available for sale to foreign militaries. Mud, meet eye. Spit, meet soup.
However, not all is lost, American Expedition Vehicles is listening. Hearing the outcry, they've negotiated with Chrysler to bring the J8 to the US market, if only in very, very limited numbers. The deal works like this: AEV has acquired the rights to buy the complete knockdown kits directly from Chrysler, which are diverted on their path to Egypt from Toledo and delivered directly to AEV's doorstep. AEV assembles the vehicles by hand, right down to the windshield washer fluid. What they don't do is install the engine and transmission. The truck is delivered to the customer as a very complete rolling chassis set up for either a VM Motori 2.8-liter four cylinder diesel good for 174 HP, 339 lb-ft of torque, or the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 kit package from AEV which starts at 330 HP and 375 lb-ft of torque and goes from there or, actually, whatever you want. The customer then takes it to a Chrysler dealer, where their choice of engine and transmission is installed. Why this way? AEV doesn't want to be the manufacturer of record, which opens them up for legalities they aren't interested in shouldering. The dealer is then named on the title as the manufacturer of record and you're on the road with a military grade jeep built to your exact specification.
But what do you get with your rolling chassis? The base chassis is a thoroughly massaged Wrangler unit, braced and reinforced to endure durability roughly three times as demanding as the regular Wrangler. We were invited to a behind-the-scenes look after we snagged our spy photos, and can attest to the upgrades. Reinforcement patches live on class-A surfaces with the kind of reckless disregard for aesthetics that makes military vehicles awesome. Underneath you get a heavy duty, custom-built pair of Dana axles, a Dana 44 up front and a Dana 60 at the rear with Dodge Ram brakes attached at the ends. The rear is perched on leaf springs versus the coils on the regular Wrangler, which pushes payload up to 2,557 lbs and towing capacity to 3,500 lbs. Front and rear bumpers are properly heavy duty, plenty thick enough to make short work of your nearest peasant uprising or Geo Metro and you get beefy tow loops (rated for helicopter lifting) and a pintle hitch at the rear. It also comes plumbed with a exterior snorkel hooked to a severe duty air filter capable of running five hours in zero-visibility sand storms. Like we said, it's exactly what gets shipped to Egypt.
Chrysler finally does this after all the time and money I spent on my '07...go figure...