Jeep lovers are a unique and loyal group of people. I used to have a customer that came into my parts store that threw who knows how much money into his old ’73 Jeep Wagoneer with a 401 and never complained. He loved his Jeep, no matter how many rust spots appeared or pieces fell off. I know a lot of people like this. My favorite Jeeps, however, have to be the pickup’s.
The Willy’s Jeep hit the market in 1947 with only a 134 CID 2.2L straight 4 engine, a 3 speed manual transmission and a lot of exterior character. The iconic round headlights and the toothy Jeep grill of an era gone by are still in use today, even if they are a bit updated.
That’s why when I heard that Mopar came out with a new conversion kit for turning a Wrangler into a pickup truck at the 2011 Moab Easter Jeep event, I got a bit excited. There hasn’t been a Jeep pickup since the mid-80’s when the CJ-8 Scrambler left the market.
Mopar has proposed two different kits. The first a more basic kit that mechanically inclined individuals can bolt on over a weekend and will consist of a bed liner, inner and outer body panels, a new hard top and a new bulk head. The kit is estimated to cost upwards of $4000. They also have a more complete kit they plan to offer that requires welding.
If you can weld and you have a good deal of confidence in your abilities and have time to trick your Jeep out, then may I introduce you to the American Expedition Vehicles Brute Jeep Conversion. I found this kit while researching the Mopar kit, and I got so giddy that my husband thought I won a contest.
Not just some add-on panels, this kit takes your Jeep from mild to wild! The difficulty, however, can pose a challenge for the DIY’er for a few reasons. The directions call for the frame of the Wrangler to be lengthened and welded and not everyone keeps a plasma torch in the garage. But, a lot of the work can be done at home, and I bet you know a guy who does have a torch, right?
The Brute kit is unlike either Mopar kit because it comes with an assembled 14 gauge steel bed with a new tailgate versus a bed liner and body panels. It also has new fuel and brake lines to accommodate the stretching of the frame, a new hard top that increases head room and has skylights, body mounts, cab closeout, and of course, the frame extensions.
The Brute kit runs $8995, but will not only transform your Jeep to a truck, it will make it unlike any other vehicle out there. According to AEV’s website, the kit can also be bought in stages to meet any budget.
Jeep lovers rejoice in the fact that you can still be as unique as you are loyal. With the variety of customization kits out there you know that your Jeep will be just that, your Jeep. No matter what your level of mechanical aptitude, you can go from a Jeep that has a difficult time hauling all your gear to a new Jeep truck that has all the space you need to get you there.