Jeep is now officially back in the truck business...sorta. Mopar, Chrysler's parts arm, has released the JK-8 conversion kit through Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram dealerships. This package gives owners of a four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited the ability to turn their SUV into a pickup.
Both the name and the body style will be familiar to Jeep fans. The Wrangler line carries the torch for the original Civilian Jeeps (CJ), and this one is very reminiscent of the CJ-8 Scrambler that has been missing for nearly 25 years.
For $5,499, Mopar will drop at your front door a massive crate that includes a steel bed, inner and outer bedsides, sport bar extensions (replacing the rear part of the roll bar that is removed in conversion), Freedom panel roof assemblies, fiberglass hardtop and bulkhead. Jeep owners are likely the best candidates to be handy enough to assemble the kits in their home garage, but those who do not feel up to the task can have their local dealership make the conversion. The price of the kit does not include any labor done by the dealer, so anyone who feels the JK-8 is not part of his/her DIY skill set needs to plan for a larger budget. A team of Mopar workers were able to make the conversion in about an hour during a demonstration at the Moab Jeep Safari, but Mopar says it will realistically take between 35 and 40 hours for full transformation under normal conditions.
The good news is that all the parts and Mopar labor will be covered under a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. Another advantage of having the professionals do the work is that Mopar engineer, Steve Houtman noted that the kit can be bolted on at home, but it can be welded on by the Mopar dealer or local body shop.
For those who may want to try the JK-8 assembly at home, Mopar has listed the steps for disassembly and reassembly:
In disassembly, each rear door is removed. Next, the rear-bumper assembly, hard top and Freedom Panels are removed, followed by the rear portion of the interior, which includes seats and carpeting. Exterior trim parts are removed and preserved; inner and outer body panels are removed by drilling out the spot welds, which allows the panels to fall away and avoids having to cut into the sheet metal. The rear sport bar is cut away and removed along with B-pillars.
Reassembly into a two-door pickup truck begins with installation of the B-pillars, cross member, floor-pan assembly (truck bed), and the inner and outer quarter panels (welding is involved in assembly). Next to be installed is the bulkhead reinforcement assembly and sport bar extensions, and finally the installation of the fiberglass bulkhead itself. The kit, with components delivered e-coated (i.e. primer), is then prepped for paint. Windows are installed to the hard top, which is then installed on the vehicle. Exterior trim parts are then reinstalled.
The JK-8 kit may be best for those who love their Wrangler Unlimited, but find themselves hauling more stuff than people. For everyone else, this Mopar kit may have a limited shelf life. Jeep has had its eyes on making its own small/midsize pickup for a little while now, but unfortunately, those plans are not firm at the moment. Still, those who have the luxury of waiting may benefit from having a factory-direct option.