Part IV: Ready to Rock
The AEV Brute conversion can be completed on any '97-'06 Jeep Wrangler TJ or LJ (Unlimited) in stock or modified form. Being that we started with a well-built Jeep Wrangler TJ, we were a bit ahead of the game with quite a few upgrades already in place. However, who's to say that a four-cylinder Jeep Wrangler pickup on 31-inch tires wouldn't be useful? That's the beauty of the AEV Brute kit: It will redefine the vehicle no matter how few or how many aftermarket parts you've invested in. No matter if it's a four-cylinder SE model, a Rubicon, or a fully equipped rockcrawler, the AEV Brute conversion will make any Jeep Wrangler a head-turner.
With a long way to go and a short time to get there, we completed an AEV Brute conversion on our '01 "Project Yellow" TJ Wrangler. Giving ourselves just two weeks to cut and lengthen the frame, cut the body and install the cab closeout, and mount the well-constructed, 14-gauge stamped-steel truck bed, we looked to Mel Wade and his competent crew at Off Road Evolution (ORE) in Fullerton, California, for help. The ORE gang hit the conversion full-force, and we were up and rolling in time for the long haul to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari.
The Project Yellow Brute is equipped with a Rubicon Express long-arm suspension system along with a Poly Performance coilover shock system front and rear. Dynatrac ProRock 60 axles reside front and rear, both using ARB Air Lockers and 4.56 gears. A Tri-County Gear relocated front track bar also aids the suspension system, along with a Currie AntiRock sway bar. It takes full flex of the Sway-A-Way coilovers to stuff the 37x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grapplers mounted on 17x10 Allied beadlock wheels into the fenders. An AGR steering system with a hydraulic cylinder assist aids in navigating the hefty Nitto tires through tight obstacles.
The original 4.0L I-6 engine is under the hood but has been outfitted with a variety of power-up parts to bring it up to speed with the heavier-duty axles and elaborate suspension. The engine sports Banks headers and exhaust, an Airaid intake and Poweraid throttle body spacer, and it also received a computer reflash by Doug's Brea Auto Electric. Charging power comes from dual Optima YellowTop batteries mounted in a Kilby Enterprises dual battery tray and wired using heavy-duty power cables from North West Power Products. A Mean Green high-amp alternator and starter also benefit the charging and starting systems. Behind the 4.0L I-6 is a High Impact-built 32RH transmission and an NP231 transfer case with TeraFlex 4-Lo gears and half-case. Also under the hood are a Vanco power brake booster and a Kilby engine-driven onboard air system.