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VWerks 2011 Jeep Wrangler JK: Recon

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2012
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Photographers: Ken Brubaker

In 2011 Jeep unveiled the Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition Wrangler. It had the Black Ops styling with dark wheels and clever badging, but lacked one basic item that all battle-ready vehicles need—firepower! OK, so there was no way Jeep was going to have a .50 caliber upgrade box to check under the heated seat option, but one could wish, right? Fortunately, we’re not the only ones who sought the vision of a heavy-duty military-grade Wrangler capable of post-apocalyptic terrain conquering and zombie slaying.

Led by former Mopar lead engineer Pat Muldoon, VWerks is a company that specializes in aftermarket parts and complete vehicle transformations. The latest brainchild picks up where the Call of Duty Wrangler left off. Known as the Recon Jeep, the company’s over-the-top JK is something right out of the GI Joe toy line. From top to bottom the Recon Jeep blends high-end and heavy-duty equipment with military styling and modern interior comfort. While it may just look like a modified Wrangler with a gun strapped to the roof, it is much more than that. It’s a heavily modified Wrangler with a machine gun strapped to the roof!

Inside of the Recon Jeep is a mix of upscale styling and durable materials. A custom set of Katzkin leather seats offers the forward occupants plenty of comfort, while the spray-lined floor is ready for abuse. A factory built-in navigation system was optioned to help roaming the unknown a little easier. It may look rugged on the outside, but the climate-controlled cab makes for a refined environment.

Resting on 39-inch BFG Krawlers and fitted with a 5.7L Hemi engine, Recon is built around function, not frills. Pat Muldoon was one of the principle developers of the JK-8 conversion when he was with Mopar. With his in-depth knowledge of the conversion and the VWerks crew’s skill set, the company has the metal-morphing capabilities to build just about any type of pickup-esque JK. For the company’s Recon edition more room was a must, so 10 inches was added to the rear of the JK-8-converted ’11 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited platform. This additional stretch provided more room for the .50 caliber rotating mount, which offers the operator full 360-degree mobility. Zombies on your tail? No problem. Zombies on the side? Got it covered. Zombies inside the cab? Well, that could be a problem.

To offer piece of mind under the rig, Recon was fitted with a Dynatrac ProRock 60 front, and an earth-shattering full-float ProRock 80 out back. Surprisingly, the Jeep only weighs in at 5,700 pounds, which in the world of overweight JK’s is actually an impressive feat. VWerks also understood that a full-floating, 1-ton axle set under a Jeep with virtually no payload capacity was pretty worthless. To increase utility and occupant protection, the company stiffened the rear floor by adding a 7⁄16-inch steel plate and swapped out the normal 4-inch lift springs with a set capable of holding 2,500 pounds.

When blazing into battle it’s important to have a healthy roar, not a wheezy whistle. VWerks agreed and ditched the stock 202hp 3.8L for a rip-roaring 5.7L V-8. The 390hp heart transplant came from a Ram donor truck, along with the 5-45RFE automatic transmission. The custom intake offers the Hemi a little more breathing power, while a well placed B&M transmission cooler keeps the auto from bubbling over.

If this Jeep is starting to sound like something you would like to own and you have an extra $250,000 sitting around, then you are in luck. Before you get too excited, you should know that unless you are a small country or have a commercial account, you won’t be able to order the Recon with the rotary or side gun mount. You can, however, still get your own Recon very well equipped, as the IED load floor is an available option in addition to the rear canvas enclosures. The even better news is that if you happen to survive the end of the world, you can start your own country and make this your official vehicle.

The Details
Owner/Hometown: Venchurs Vehicle Systems (VWerks)/ Adrian, MI
Vehicle/Model: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (Recon Edition)
Estimated value: $250,000
Type: 5.7L Hemi V-8

The VWerks 4-inch suspension system works well with the 1-inch Jack-It body lift. Combined with Gen-Right fenders, the Jeep has no trouble clearing the 39-inch BFG Krawler tires. Since off-road conditions vary, along with gear loads, each corner of the Jeep is fitted with an adjustable 2.0 Fox shock. The 2.0 remote-reservoir series shocks help keep the shock’s oil cool, while a quick turn of the adjuster modifies the shocks’ compression (upwards movement) damping characteristics.

Transmission: 5-45RFE, B&M cooler
Transfer case: Advance Adapters Atlas II (5.0:1)

Front: VWerks 4-in with coil springs, Fox 2.0 adjustable shocks with remote reservoirs
Rear: VWerks 4-in with 2,500lb load-carrying coil springs, Fox 2.0 adjustable shocks with remote reservoirs

Front: Dynatrac ProRock 60, 1-ton Ford disc brakes, ARB Air Locker, PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist steering
Rear: Dynatrac ProRock 80, 1-ton Ford disc brakes, Detroit Locker
Ring and pinion: 5.38:1

Wheels: 17x8.5 Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlock
Tires: 39x14.50R17 BFG Krawler T/A KX

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