One look at the extended bedsides lets you know that this Jeep has special intentions.
In the world of great collaborations, we've been blessed with Jimi and the electric guitar, Levi and denim jeans, the burger patty and cheese, and now Red Jacket Firearm's Will Hayden and VWerks' PT Muldoon. Once a conversation was struck between the two passionate men about building a cool, off-road vehicle that Red Jacket Firearms could use for a shop truck, an idea was sparked. Rumors of Jeep bringing back a pickup have lingered for nearly 25 years, and after both men shared fond memories of the old all-purpose Scrambler trucks, a build was commissioned—enter the Red Jacket JK8.
VWerks, located in Adrian, Michigan, is in the business of transforming cool ideas into jaw-dropping vehicles. Heading up the crazy ideas is self-proclaimed Jeep lunatic and former head of engineering at Mopar, PT Muldoon. PT and his former team at Mopar helped design the official Mopar pickup conversion that is currently available from Jeep. Will Hayden is the heart and soul behind Red Jacket Firearms, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and instantly made famous on the hit TV show Sons of Guns. Once Will expressed a desire to see a 21st century version of the old CJ8 pickups, PT made a trip to the local Jeep dealership and returned with a four-door Rubicon. Back at VWerks, PT's new crew busted out the Sawzall's and got to cutting.
Don't get us wrong, this gorgeous creation wasn't hacked up and held together by bubble gum, rather, it was laboriously developed to be the end-all of custom Jeep pickups. Much like Red Jacket's firearms are meticulously crafted, VWerk's talented fabrication team disassembled the four-door JK. First up, the factory rear frame was stretched 6 additional inches behind the fuel tank to allow room for the mounting of a special, one-off projectile launcher (more on that later). It was now a matter of fitting the Jeep/Mopar JK-8 pickup sheetmetal to the lengthened chassis. Mopar's conversion includes new stamped steel bedsides, steel bed, Freedom Panels, and removable fiberglass hardtop. VWerks massaged the bed floor to compensate for the added length, while creating a truly unique look with extended bedside caps. Other trick touches include the VWerks' cowl hood with side scoops, VWerks' front grille guard/bumper with integrated Warn 9.5ti winch, rear bumper with tubular outer bar and tow hooks, and wider fender flares.
For the Red Jacket edition, only one color would suffice, and Motor City Rod Shop, in Melvindale, Michigan, rolled the Jeep into their paint booth where it received a base coat of silver. Silver? Don't worry, that was the perfect foundation for the House of Kolor Kandy Apple Red, providing a glistening appearance that must be seen to be fully appreciated. Gloss Kandy Black was then applied to the bumpers, fender flares, and side rock rails. The contrast is exactly the look PT and Will were going for. A host of Mopar accessories were bolted on to give the JK a custom, yet attainable feel, and include the taillights guards, billet hood latches, and fuel door. Aside from good looks, Red Jacket is all about performance, and this Jeep wasn't going to receive the famous RJF logo until it was darn-near bulletproof.
The side-hinged tailgate provides a nice and flat loading area for ammo boxes.
Not to be outdone by the new shiny paint, VWerks bolted on its own 4-inch short-arm lift kit with 1-inch body lift, allowing the JK8 to swallow up a set of 40-inch BFG Krawlers mounted to 17-inch Hutchinson Rock Monster off-road wheels with internal beadlocks. Keeping the ride compliant, Fox Racing shocks are mounted at all four corners, while upgraded brakes from Dynatrac keep the JK8 safe when wheeling. Speaking of which, RJF is well-known for upfitting weapons to tactical precision, and if Will has the desire to test this Jeep's abilities, the 5.38 gears and upgraded Dana 44 axles are certainly up to the task. For nighttime adventures down in the Bayou, dual PIAA off-road lights were affixed to the VWerks' front grille guard and help light up targets at distance.
Inside, perforated Katzkin leather seat covers in black with red stitching feature the RJF logo, while a Kicker sound system provides Will's favorite tunes. No respectable firearm's maker could be without a gun mount in the new bed, but in this case, the mount is for a T-shirt cannon, allowing Will and the Red Jacket crew to whet the appetites of adoring fans.
Without question a crowd pleaser, PT tells us, "You can't go anywhere without people stopping you wanting to know more about the Jeep." We can definitely see why, as this truck melds the classic Jeep tradition with the best of today's modern pickup technology. Now, if we could only get the Red Jacket crew to collaborate with us on a Truckin edition 12-gauge…
As soon as people see the Jeep, they instantly tell you stories of their dad's or grandpa's old Scrambler.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 2012 Jeep/VWerks JK8
Owner And City/State: Red Jacket Firearms • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Type: 3.6L Pentastar VVT
Exhaust: Mopar Performance
Output: 295 hp
Built by: Mopar
Transmission: Five-speed auto
Axles: Dana 44 with 5.38 gearing
Front suspension: VWerks 4-inch short-arm lift kit, Fox Racing shocks
Rear suspension: VWerks 4-inch lift
Brakes: Dynatrac upgraded
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 17x8.5 Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlock
Tires: 40x14.50R17 BFG Krawler T/A KX