This might resemble a Jeep Wrangler. It has similar lines, and it even shares a few dozen parts. But American Expedition Vehicles has far surpassed the factory’s (and the world’s) expectations. Being an event manager, I have driven every flavor of the Wrangler. From death wobble to fake carbon fiber, I thought I had seen it all. But this year’s Baltimore Auto Show changed my notions of what the aftermarket is capable of.
Dave Harriton began modding his and his friends’ cars in a small garage in Missoula. From basic repairs to fixing factory imperfections, his work made an impact. By thinking outside the box, he and his team have become an OEM supplier, located just outside Detroit. Their Brute is the ultimate truck bed conversion for the JK Unlimited. The thick-wall construction is rust-proofed on all sides and capable of hauling anything you need.
What really shocked me about their builds is the quality of the products, and the engineering behind it. All AEV vehicles ride on their DualSport suspension. Offroad shocks and springs will beat you up on the street unless it has their logo. One of their managers threw me the keys, and asked me to make it act like a typical modded Jeep.
The DualSport is not a generic lift kit. Dave and his team reverse-engineered every moving part under the frame. Nobody else has ever taken the time to produce progressive-rate coil springs along with shocks that are valved to match. Their brackets and track bars don’t keep the factory caster angles, they improve it to be more stable in any situation. The roll-center remains at the stock ride height, which negates almost all body roll. Even if you can’t afford their kit please don’t combine brand X springs with brand Y shocks, you will be asking for an unstable and unsafe ride.
Going hammer down on a HEMI powered JK350, it launched out of the hole like John Force, with the cornering abilities I would compare to a Cayman GT4 Clubsport. This is not hyperbole, the factory could have done this, but the big automakers have bean counters to keep the budget on target. Try as I might, the harder I pushed, the more I was rewarded.
Every AEV build starts with a stamped front bumper of 3/16″ steel. It is powder coated on both sides and integrates a Warn 9.5cti winch. It is the only Jeep aftermarket bumper to meet DOT crash standards. That’s because the fabricated steel ones everyone else makes do tremendous damage to both cars in a wreck. Their rear bumper holds 5 gallons of water, and the rear tire carrier is mounted directly to the frame. That is because it holds a full-size spare, brake light, rearview camera, and their 10.2-gallon fuel caddy. These parts are made in the USA and made from the best steel and alloys in the world.
What does this mean for Jeep’s new JL chassis? AEV is building a few wild creations for SEMA, but I will let Mr. Harriton tell you all about it in the clip below. If you are interested in anything for your Jeep, click the link below get ready to be amazed.
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