Last year, Mopar SkunkWerks brought us a number of vehicles, including the very cool JT pickup based on the JK Wrangler Unlimited. This year, while SkunkWerks changed its name to Mopar Underground, the concept vehicles were outstanding and prove that Chrysler is still at the cutting edge of OE off-highway technology.
The Jeep J8 "Sarge" is one of those vehicles, and we had an opportunity to put it through its paces in Moab. While the Sarge is a Mopar Underground vehicle, it stands apart from the rest because it was modified very little. It's very close to the production Jeep J8, manufactured in a Chrysler joint-venture facility in Cairo, Egypt, and slated for use by the Egyptian military.
The J8 is a beefed-up military version of the Jeep JK Unlimited platform built as a noncombat military support vehicle. With a 116-inch wheelbase, the J8 is available in either two- or four-door configurations. J8-only structural upgrades in the body and chassis combine to increase the GVWR rating to 7,400 pounds. With the increased GVWR, the J8 can be configured as a light troop carrier, ambulance, or cargo truck.
Under the hood (bonnet) is a VM 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel that produces 158 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The Command-Trac transfer case has both high and 2.72:1 low-range gearing. Although 158 hp doesn't sound like much, the J8 works. It works on the highway, in the dirt, in the rocks, and surprisingly, in the sand. The little 2.8 diesel has plenty of torque and motivates the J8 well through the dunes, an important feature for the Mideastern service the J8 will be seeing.
Under the dried mud, there's...
Under the dried mud, there's a VM 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel that produces 158 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. It also continued to run, even when submerged in Kane Creek.
The beefy Dana 60 rearend...
The beefy Dana 60 rearend features a Trac-Lok limited-slip that actually works. Remember the old Trac-Loks that didn't? This same Dana 60 should be available from your Mopar/Jeep Performance dealer by the time you read this. While it has leaf-spring pads on it, it wouldn't be hard to weld JK or TJ bracketry on it for a project Jeep.
The front should be familiar...
The front should be familiar to JK owners, as it's the same basic Dana 44 frontend and four-link suspension with coil springs, hydraulic shocks, upper and lower control arms, Panhard rod (track bar), and a sway bar. The J8's Dana 44 has an open differential and larger disc brakes to handle the increased GVWR. The Mopar Underground Sarge has 1.25-inch Superlift coil spacers too.