Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free

Hemi Power

Posted in Features on September 22, 2004
Share this

We've seen plenty of engine swaps over the years, but nothing compares to the refined conversion American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) is now completing on its 5.7L Hemi Wranglers. You may ask yourself why such an engine would be placed in a Wrangler TJ. Well, it makes perfect sense. The Hemi engine weighs only 57 pounds more than Jeep's I-6 and will give you an additional 165 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque.

Dave Harrington, owner of AEV, told us that this '04 Wrangler is fit with a "brand-new 5.7L Hemi engine and drivetrain, direct from the DaimlerChrysler assembly line." This swap is as close to a factory option as a person can get. All the factory gauges, emissions, diagnostics, and comfort features, such as air conditioning and cruise control, are left in their original state and work perfectly with the new drivetrain. The engine is still fit with the factory sequential multiport injection, and it pumps out 355 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. This is a far cry from the 4.0L's 190 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. The Hemi engine is coupled to the 545RFE double-overdrive five-speed transmission. This modern drivetrain runs smooth and crisp, without any hesitation. AEV builds its own computer to mate the Dodge and Jeep components. With this installation, gone are the quirky and finicky issues of old-engine custom fuel-injection combinations.

The 5.7L Hemi engine fits snugly in the Wrangler's engine compartment. AEV's installation looks better than factory. Great care was taken to get the 355hp engine and drivetrain running as smoothly and dependably as possible. The engine and transmission still carry the Dodge 1-year /12,000-mile warranty and AEV's 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

The engine conversion on this Wrangler also included swapping out the factory radiator for a Be Cool aluminum radiator, and installing a 3-inch exhaust system for better aspiration. A NVG 242 Selectrac transfer case was coupled to the transmission, but any Jeep transfer case will work with the Hemi conversion. The TJ was fit with a Rockcrusher Dana 60 axle in the rear and a Dana 44 in the front. Both differentials use ARB Air Lockers for traction and are geared to 4.88. The driveshafts were double-CV-joint-modified.

AEV's Hemi Wrangler is fit with a Rubicon Express 4-1/2-inch Extreme Duty long-arm suspension system. The Extreme Duty system is designed as a complete replacement suspension system and maintains the proper geometry, which improves the vehicle's stability on the highway as well as out on the trail. The factory shocks were left in place for a smooth, comfortable highway ride. Goodyear 315/75R16 M/TR tires were fit over AEV's super-clean 16x8-inch chrome wheels for a very sharp and functional combination.

PhotosView Slideshow
Custom leather upholstery was stitched onto a set of Recaro seats.

If a person didn't know any better, they might assume that this Hemi Wrangler is a factory production vehicle; the swap and AEV retrofit were crafted that cleanly. This is an absolutely beautiful rig. The engine fits a little snug, but nobody would be the wiser. Keeping the factory components and wiring in place prevents the Jeep from being hacked up. The top for this TJ was custom-made of Dodge Viper soft-top cloth from Haartz and built by Bestop. The interior features custom Recaro seats stitched with AEV leather by HG Helman Inc. in Missoula, Montana. A Mopar Navigation Radio (RB1) unit was installed in the dash, and the tub of the Jeep was fit with sound insulation under the carpet. A custom AEV steel heat-reduction hood replaced the factory unit, and once that was done, the TJ was painted with Imola Orange paint.

AEV's rocker guards offer protection as well as great looks.

The Tentrax trailer that's towed behind the Hemi Wrangler has been custom-built to match the Jeep and features the same custom paint and wheels. This tough little trailer is perfect for any adventure and looks great behind AEV's Wrangler.

The headlights were fit with IPF's new H4 prototype filaments.

For the little 4,550-pound Wrangler, the Hemi conversion certainly gives it some get up and go. Taking a ride in this Jeep is amazing: Its agility, comfort, and power make you think you're riding in a factory performance vehicle. The Hemi engine conversion and complete retrofits are available through American Expedition Vehicles, based in Missoula, Montana.

Year/make/model:'04 {{{Jeep Wrangler}}}
Owner/hometown:American Expedition Vehicles (AEV)/Missoula, Montana
Engine:5.7L {{{Dodge}}} Hemi
Induction:Sequential multiport injection
Transmission:545RFE double-overdrive five-speed
Transfer case:NVG 242 Selectrac
Frontend:Dana 44
Rearend:RockCrusher Dana 60
Suspension:Rubicon {{{Express}}} Extreme Duty long-arm suspension system
Ring-and-pinion:4:46 by Precision Gear
Tires/wheels:Goodyear 315/75R16 {{{M}}}/TRs/AEV 16x8-inch chrome wheels
PhotosView Slideshow

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results