a pickup that Jeep enthusiasts wish they could draft into active service,
it's the J8 "Sarge" concept.
Like the legendary Willys MB from World War II, the standard-issue Jeep
J8 is a military-spec support vehicle built to serve a variety of missions
in the field, from troop carrying to ambulance services. But it's not
for American soldiers or civilians: The J8 is manufactured in Cairo,
strictly for the Egyptian military.
Chrysler's Mopar Underground skunk works, led by Ralph Gilles, vice
president of Jeep and truck design, got its hands on a J8 pickup and
turned it into the Sarge, which debuted at the 2008 Easter Jeep Safari
in Moab, Utah.
"We took the idea in the way that other military vehicles have
made it to civilian use, but said, 'What if we were to create a civilian
version (of the Jeep J8) but keep the basic message of the truck?' We
wanted to pay tribute to its military roots," Gilles said.
The starting point for all Jeep J8s is the Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited
platform. Special body and frame structural upgrades give the J8 its
military rating, including a beefed-up frame, a Dana 60 rear axle mounted
on leaf springs, larger front disc brakes, and exclusive-to-the-J8 17-by-8-inch
steel wheels with larger 5-by-5.5-inch bolt patterns. Command-Trac four-wheel
drive and a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential give the J8 aggressive
The J8 powertrain
consists of VM Moturi's 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine -- producing
158 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque -- mated to a five-speed
automatic transmission. It's the same engine formerly offered in the
Jeep Liberty compact SUV in 2005 and 2006, but cancelled due to stronger
federal emissions standards.
To create the Sarge, Mopar Underground added a 3-inch lift, using Superlift
front coil spacers, 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires, offroad rocker
steps from Jeep's trail accessory catalog, and a custom cargo top. It's
painted olive green with military markings that include silhouettes of
The first question from Jeep enthusiasts, of course, is will they be
able to buy the J8 Sarge (or its predecessor, the Jeep JT Concept).
According to Gilles, it's doubtful we'll see the Sarge in our driveways
or on nearby trails anytime soon, but plans for a new Jeep pickup for
American civilians appear to be in
Heck, we'd be happy if one showed up simply to deliver our mail.