If you want to create interest in a product, one of the best ways is to take it off the market. When Jeep built and sold its Wrangler-based CJ-8 Scrambler pickup, demand was, to be kind, modest.
In fact, Jeep produced the model for just six years, from 1981 through 1986. Call it nostalgia or call it the fog of history, but customers have been bugging Jeep to bring back the Scrambler for years.
In 2011, Jeep (sort of) relented, launching the reasonably-priced JK-8 Independence conversion kit for late-model Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds. Starting at just $5,499, Mopar will sell you the pieces necessary to build your own modern Scrambler, but they won’t sell you a completed JK-8.
On the other hand, VWerks, who builds the kit for Mopar, is more than happy to sell you a completed JK-8, with as many add-ons and luxuries as your imagination and budget allow. To highlight their products and craftsmanship, VWerk’s Pat Muldoon stopped by Jay Leno’s Garage with a JK-8 built for Louisiana’s Red Jacket Firearms.
Now that Red Jacket has its own show on the Discovery Channel (called Sons of Guns), we’re guessing that its budget for a shop truck is on the large size. The JK-8 brought to The Big Dog Garage seems to spare no expense in its build, ranging from the candy-apple-red paint to the oversized brush guards and 17-inch bead-lock wheels.
It’s clear that VWerks takes great pride in what it produces, which speaks well about the conversion kits you can buy at your local Jeep dealer. We’re not sure they’re shadetree-mechanic-suitable (especially when you factor in paint and bodywork), but the finished product will likely last as long as a factory-produced Wrangler.