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1998 Jeep Wrangler TJ Brute - Built For Easter

Crawling Down
Pete Trasborg
| Brand Manager, Jp
Posted October 1, 2007

Nine-Day Brute

We've liked the AEV Brute conversions ever since we saw the kit at SEMA in '06. But since then, the only Brutes we ever see are built up by companies to be used as calling cards. We've not seen many personal Brute builds. It's a Jeep truck; use it like a truck, or like a Jeep, or both-don't use it like a billboard.

Well, it turns out that Adam Shoemaker of Fenton, Michigan, saw the Brute conversion kit at the same show we did. He ordered a kit, but it wasn't until just nine days before he was due to go to Moab, Utah, for Easter Jeep Safari that the build got started.

For our part, we are happy to see a Brute that is used on-road, off-road, and as a truck occasionally, too.

Chassis And Driveline
By the time you read this, the 4.0 I-6 that we saw in the truck with the JBL header and Flowmaster muffler will likely have been evicted. Adam told us that he actually had a Hemi bolted in, but just didn't have the time to make it run before heading to Utah. As we were talking to him, though, he was considering ditching the Hemi idea, and going with something in the diesel category. Either way, where Adam lives in Michigan there aren't any emissions tests, so he's in the clear.

An NSG370 and 241OR from an '05 Rubicon were swapped in using an Advance Adapters CPS relocation kit to move the crank sensor to the front of the motor and trick the fuel injection into running. Power is transferred out to the axles through custom driveshafts using only 1350-series parts made by Joint Clutch.

The front Dana 60 axle came from a '97 Ford F-350 and was stuffed with Solid axleshafts, 5.13 gears, and an ARB Air Locker. The rear Teraflex CRD-60 was likewise filled with 5.13s and an ARB. Front and rear brakes are Solid Axle conversion parts while an '00 Dodge master cylinder provides the front and rear discs with fluid.

The stock TJ coil and shock arrangement was tossed in favor of FOA coilover shocks all around, used with a modified Teraflex long arm lift kit and a Daystar 1-inch body lift to clear the 39-inch Pit Bull Rocker tires mounted on Walker Evans rims.

A full hydro PSC steering system shoves those tires anywhere Adam wants. Adam tells us it took a little bit to get used to the full hydro setup, but he is glad he went with it.

A Currie Enterprises front stubby bumper houses a Warn 9000i winch while the AEV tubular rear bumper was modified so the underbed-mounted Warn M8000 could be used when rear pulls were needed.

Of course, to make a TJ into a Brute, you've got to cut the frame in half, and add in extensions. All the frame and bodywork was done by Unlimited Offroad Centers in Fenton, Michigan.

Body And Interior
Obviously there was a lot of bodywork done in the closeout of the cab. That was all done using pieces from the AEV kit and was shot Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Burnt Orange. The nose of the truck got the AEV highline fender and hood kit and the rear flares are stock AEV Brute flares made to work with the highline front end.

Inside, the same Rubicon that gave up its transmission and transfer case also gave up its seats, dashboard, center console, and rollcage. The 'cage was modified by cutting off the rear legs to work with the half-hard top. By putting all-stock Jeep components back inside, you really feel like this is the Jeep truck that Jeep should have made from '97-'06. It just seems like a factory Jeep, if Jeep made trucks based off the TJ.

Good, Bad & What's It For
The front axle is bulletproof, and while we can't say we really would trust a full hydro setup like this on the street, Adam tells us he rarely takes this Jeep out on the highway and most of its street use is around town.

The use of largely off-the-shelf parts in the suspension makes for easy replacement when needed. And with just enough modifications to make it all work really well together, you can just color us green. Adam says that he was thinking of playing with spring rates a little bit, and of course he wasn't too happy with the engine.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: '98 Jeep Wrangler
Engine: '98 Jeep 4.0L I-6
Transmission: '05 NSG370
Transfer Case: '05 NVG 241OR
Suspension: Coilover and linked
Axles: High Pinion Dana 60 (front), Teraflex CRD60 (rear)
Wheels: 17x9 Walker Evans Polished bead lock
Tires: 39.5x16.5R17 LT Pit Bull Rocker
Built For: Liked the Brute since he saw it
Estimated Cost: Unknown-a work in progress

Why I Featured It

I like the Brute conversion. It has the best of both the Jeep it is based on and the pickup truck that it is made to be. But over the last couple of years, it seems all the conversions I've seen are done by companies so that others in the industry can see them. They aren't wheeled hard, aren't used as a truck, and are largely show queens. Yeah, this one was pretty, but Adam wheeled it like it needed to be, and I'm just glad I caught up to him early on in this truck's life so I could still shoot it before it got its battle scars as almost all Jeeps wheeled like this do. -Pete Trasborg


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