But now American civilians can get their hands on the stripped-down, beefed-up super-Jeeps, though there are some steps to go through before it'll be road-ready.
These aren't aftermarket conversions of civilian equipment either - these are the real-deal, military-grade Jeep J8s that are being sold overseas. They are available in either three-door or five-door variants, but both are built on the same Wrangler Unlimited platform.
"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 powertrain has to be sourced separately from the chassis package, but AEV does have independent dealers that can supply both the standard 174hp/339lb-ft (130kW/460Nm) 2.8L four-cylinder diesel or a 330hp (246kW/508Nm)) 5.7L HEMI V8 gasoline engine. The chassis itself is assembled in Detroit by AEV, fully finished with paint, upholstery, wheels and tires, but sans engine and transmission.
The J8 gets a range of upgrades over a standard Jeep, including a Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axles, plus rear leaf springs and a heavy-duty frame that together boost the J8's tow capacity to 3,500lb and payload rating to 2,500lb.
Right now, however, AEV is simply taking orders through its site. Once it has enough to begin production, a $10,000 deposit will be due in order to secure your place in line. No word yet on final pricing, though AEV says owners should expect a total investment of about $50,000.