Shop Project: VWerks JK-8 Jeep Truck

Aug. 16, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
VWerks JK-8 Recon--whether it be crawling trails, hunting or preparing for the zombie apocalypse, this rig has it covered.

Good things still come out of Michigan, and the latest creation from VWerks is a testament to that. Debuted at this year’s Moab EJS, the JK-8 Recon from Venchurs VWerks quickly gained attention from off-road enthusiasts on the trail. It was no different for us ... how could it be? A big gun mounted on a very sleek military-looking Jeep Wrangler was coming our way. We didn’t know whether to stay or run.

The over-the-top Jeep was nothing to be messed with, yet it had plenty of appeal and made us want to get a closer look. Once we saw Pat Muldoon was behind this off-road warrior, we knew it was safe to approach. takes a closer look at the VWerks JK-8 Recon.

This is the VWerks JK-8 Red Jacket, one of Muldoon’s other wild creations that took the automotive aftermarket by storm at the 2011 SEMA Show (Photo compliments of VWerks).

VWerks might be a new name in the automotive aftermarket, but the man behind it is not. Pat Muldoon has over 20 years of product engineering experience, building some well-known show cars and concepts. They include the Mopar Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush, Mopar Ram Runner, and the Mopar JK-8 Independence conversion package--all which we’ve featured here on

The VWerks team busy at work putting the final touches on the JK-8 Recon before making the trip out to Moab, UT (photo compliments of VWerks).

Before joining the Venchurs team, parent company of VWerks, Muldoon was at Chrysler, acting as the Senior Manager of Product Development Engineering. After leaving Chrysler, Muldoon has continued true to his passion of redefining trucks and Jeeps. His latest creations include the VWerks JK-8 Wrangler and Ram Caballo Diablo truck, both engineered and built at the VWerks shop in Adrian, Michigan.

Muldoon explains that the shop's penchant for JK-8s is really the blending of this background in these types of vehicles. 

"We build JK8's because our heritage is Jeep and truck," he says. "I started my career at Plymouth Road in Detroit as did a lot of my team. The original AMC facility. We engineered the Jeeps and trucks side by side back then. It's where the original CJ 8 came from and it represents the history of Jeep and Detroit."

The latest creation from Muldoon and the VWerks team is a stretched, military-inspired Jeep Wrangler JK truck dubbed “Recon.” Sharing similarities with its shorter brother “Red Jacket,” the Recon has a 10-inch stretched body, packing even more cargo room behind the rear wheels.

A number of modifications were made to transform this burly Jeep into one mean machine. The conversion includes VWerks front and rear steel bumpers, outfitted with military grade clevises, shackles, and trailer pintle hook.

Hand built and crafted by the VWerks team, the JK-8 Recon started life as a 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited. It went through extensive training before transforming into a mean trail machine (photo compliments of VWerks).

Adding flare to the JK-8 Recon are VWerks Premium Rock Rails and VWerks Hood with functional scoop. The stout body lines were accentuated with GenRight front and rear steel fenders, GenRight rear tire carrier and Mopar half doors. 

The all-steel construction on the VWerks JK-8 Recon was completely hand built using high-quality parts and fabrication. Many off-road parts and accessories developed for the JK-8 Recon are now available for the aftermarket through VWerks and authorized dealers (photo compliments of VWerks).
Keeping traction on the ground are 39-inch BFG Krawler Tires mounted on  17-inch Hutchinson Rock Monster Bead-Lock Rims. To make room for this big-wheel-and-tire combo, VWerks developed a 4-inch Lift Kit that includes Super HD Front and Rear Coil Springs with tuned Fox Shox. A little extra space was added between the frame and body with a Jack-It 1-inch body spacer.

With added weight, heavy-duty steering and stopping power had to be incorporated into the JK-8 Recon. VWerks installed a PSC Steering Ram Assist and Teraflex Master Cylinder to make driving this machine much more manageable.

Powering the VWerks Recon JK-8 is a healthy 5.7L Hemi V8 backed by a 5-speed 545RFE Transmission and Atlas II Transfer Case. A set of Dynatrac Axles add strength to the truck, ProRock 60 front with ARB Air Locker, Dynatrac Pro80 rear with Detroit Locker. Both axles are running 5.36 gears.

Yeah, it's got a hemi. (Photo compliments of VWerks)

Adding trail cred are a Warn 9.5ti Thermometric Self-Recovery Winch, PIAA 520 ATP Lights, Jerry Cans, and a Hi-Lift Jack.

It’s all in the details. VWerks paid extra attention to front of the rig by adding military shovels, pick and ax to the JK-8 Recon.

The interior gets special attenion in the VWerks JK-8 as well. (Photo compliments of VWerks)

Inside the cockpit, two-tone Katzkin leather upholstery and VWerks floor mats give it a rugged OD Green look. An on-board ARB Air Compressor sits behind the driver seat, ready to pump tires or provide air to pneumatic tools. The Recon’s dash features a full control box for lights and air locker.

In the back, the bed has been re-enforced with an IED Protection Plate, making it explosive-proof. The cab and rear bed are protected from the elements by a custom-stitched canvas top that can be fully removed.

I know, you all want to know more about the guns. The VWerks JK-8 Recon is outfitted with a Crane Technologies - MK16 Tripod w/ MK48Mod2 Weapons Stand, MK93 Machinegun Mount w/ Ammunition Can Holder. It also has an M240 adaptor for MK93 with a 600-round ammunition can.

Last but not least a full 360-degree rotary mount with a M2 Ma Deuce Replica Machine Gun.

Although we didn’t get to test any real guns on the VWerks JK-8 Recon, we can assure you that it would top the fun meter and leave a dent on the target. Maybe next time.

The VWerks JK-8 Recon was built by an impressive team. It’s not only a concept vehicle, but it’s also an igniter to get people thinking about the possibilities for their Jeep Wrangler.

What really sets VWerks apart is the fact that they are not only building fun concept vehicles, they are bringing them to market--even if it’s one piece at a time. Not sure about the machine guns … you may need to find a different source for that.

To learn more about VWerks, their vehicles and parts now available, please call them or visit the link below.

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