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  • Hemi Wrangler Build

    Gents,

    I'm going to document my build here to share my ideas and gain some insight from fellow AEV and Jeep enthusiasts along the way. I purchased this Jeep a month ago and had it shipped from Northern California all the way to Georgia. I saw the potential as soon as I found the listing online and jumped on it. My plan is to build a great weekend wheeler that is a great balance of fun and functionality, both on and off the road.

    Base Vehicle:

    -1999 Wrangler Sahara
    -White (Paint: PW1, Spice hardtop and interior)
    -Originally purchased in Las Vegas, NV and has been there most of it's life (zero rust)

    Modifications as of now:

    -5.7L Hemi V8 / 545 RFE auto transmission swap (less than 14k on the engine and trans) Conversion done by Jeep Speedshop in California
    -'04 Gauge Cluster, fuel tank, fuel pump, and evap canister.
    -6.1L Hemi Injectors
    -'07 Grand Cherokee Hemi headers
    -Banks Monster Muffler and exhaust
    -JSS aluminum radiator and transmission cooler
    -Rubicon Dana 44 axles with factory air lockers (front axle was brand new off the shelf, rear axle had less than 30k miles on it)
    -Slip Yoke Eliminator, rear CV driveshaft
    -RE adjustable upper control arms in the rear
    -Lizardskin applied on the firewall and underside of the tub while the tub was off of the frame for the engine swap
    -1" BL to clear the Hemi driveline

    Here are the first few photos. I'll work on getting larger, more detailed pics in the future:

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    Last edited by ranger; 09-09-2014, 06:55 PM.

  • #2
    The undercarriage:

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    The first major modification will be a AEV Highline Fender Kit, AEV TJ Savegres, and BFG KM2 35x12.50R17 tires. Just got the tires mounted and did a teaser shot in the drive way. The Highline Kit is at a local body shop. It will be painted and ready to be bolted on in a week. I'm straying a bit from the Sahara trim level. The fender flares will stay black to balance out all the white. The spice top, dash, door panels, console, and Sahara decals are staying; my first Jeep was a beautiful '95 Sahara and I want to keep the trim level intact minus the tan carpet and the painted fenders.

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    The next upgrades on the block are:

    -Likely a 2" OME suspension
    -Vanco 17" Big Brake Kit
    -Mopar Rock bumpers w/ a Warn M8000 winch with in-cab controls
    -All J Products Boulder Bars
    -Gr8tops Exogate
    Last edited by ranger; 11-10-2013, 09:52 PM.

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    • #3
      I ditched the aftermarket single DIN CD player for a more factory look. I've always liked the RB1 factory navigation unit and decided to retrofit one in this Wrangler. RB1s are a fairly easy install when swapped into a '03-'06 Wrangler, but the in a '99 it has to be massaged a bit.

      The dash cut out, bezel, and wiring harness are different. I found the right conversion harness online to sync the '97-'02 harness with the '03-'06 radio. It also comes with an antenna adapter to update the antenna plug. The most important step to note is the RB1's navigation software will not function without a connection to the ECM-BUS. The purple/yellow wire on the radio harness will need to be located and then connected with about 2 ft of wire to the ECM-BUS wire at the OBD-II connection port. The BUS wire is purple too and should be the second wire terminal on the top row of the connector. I had some spare wire laying around from a Painless Cirkit Boss kit and decided to use the purple wire from that bundle for a clean look.


      The gutted dash:
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      Mocked in place:
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      All wired up and integrated with the older wiring harness:
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      I also plan on installing a Jeep Trailguide GPS unit on top of the newer '03-'06 dash radio bezel. The Trailguide wiring adapter was snapped in between the harness adapter and the RB1.

      The radio is zip tied in place while I test it out for a few days to ensure everything works. Then I'll figure out how to shoehorn it into the dash. It will likely be a 'no turning back' type of mod for the radio itself as the mounting bezel will need to be notched and trimmed a bit for a flush look. I've got a custom bracket that I'm going to fab up to secure it in the dash and a new TJ dash bezel with the oval radio cutout to finish off the updated look.
      Last edited by ranger; 11-08-2013, 10:22 PM.

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      • #4
        I also wired in a Mopar iPod Integration Kit while the radio was out. There wasn't a lot of room behind the dash to mount the module, so I secured it inside the glove box where the iPod will be stored.

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        • #5
          Did the same thing to my 98 when I had it.


          Untitled by adamthompson3104, on Flickr

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mnsrt View Post
            Did the same thing to my 98 when I had it.


            Untitled by adamthompson3104, on Flickr
            It's a great mod for sure. The biggest issue I had was syncing it with the PCM BUS. Without it the GPS system would lag and only update every five minutes. Had to find the right wire and now it works like a charm.

            Can you post a couple of photos of the bracket you made to mount the radio?
            Last edited by ranger; 11-10-2013, 07:26 AM.

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            • #7
              Very cool. I guess you bought this out from under me. I called back the guy and you had just bought it. Great find!!!!
              Ben Hedrick
              www.BenHedrick.com
              HEDRICK Speedsports

              "We are a Small Garage with a Big Jeep Problem"
              2007 5.7L HEMI Sahara Unlimited - Sold
              2010 6.1L HEMI Rubicon Unlimited - Sold
              2011 6.4L (392) HEMI Rubicon Unlimited - Sold
              2002 4.0L AEV Brute - Sold
              2003 6.4L "Stroker" HEMI AEV Brute - Sold
              2005 4.0L SC AEV K9 Brute - Sold
              2014 345 HEMI Rubicon Xpo Adventurer
              2000 4.0L AEV 112 Long Wheelbase
              2006 4.0L AEV Brute Rubicon - Sold
              2005 570 AEV TJ Brute Wrangler

              Comment


              • #8
                I saw it list on eBay and called the seller within a couple of hours of the auction's start. We had it all finalized the next day. I know he said there were a lot of calls coming after we worked out a deal. The price was right on point too. JSS does excellent work. I've crawled all over this thing and the conversion is extremely clean. Great attention to detail throughout.

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                • #9
                  The dash is coming together. I've been working on it at night while the other parts are on the way. It's a little challenging getting the newer TJ trim pieces and electronics in an early model TJ (and making it look and function like it's OEM in the process). I still have to wire the defroster switch back into the factory harness, shim the heater/blower controls, and mount the RB1 with an actual bracket. I'm planning on mounting another set of Carling/ARB-style in-cab winch controls next to the steering column - just like AEV did with their locker switches in the 104/112s. The two-switch bezel really gives the Carling switches a finished look.

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                  • #10
                    Nice work. I like your attention to detail. And for a '99 thats one clean TJ to start off with.

                    The black/white combo on the body should look great.

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                    • #11
                      Great looking TJ. Cant wait to see the wheels and high line. I like the White Flares
                      Pete

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                      • #12
                        Finished the Highline install tonight. I still have to mount the drivers side flare; AEV shipped an incorrect flare and we didn't discover the screw-up until it was time to mount it up. I'm also planning on lining the inside of the wheel wells to protect against rocks and debris being kicked up from the tires and chipping the paint. All in all, it was a pretty straight forward install. The Jeep really starting to look like what I think a TJ Wrangler should.

                        Install shots:
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                        A quick teaser shot, I'll post some more when the sun is out and I've finished up the little loose ends of the install:
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                        Last edited by ranger; 01-19-2014, 12:29 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Looks Great!
                          Is that just 1" BL with 35s with highline , no other lift ?
                          Like to see more pics. Keep it up!
                          Ram 2500 Reg. Cab
                          08 JKU

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by James04 View Post
                            Looks Great!
                            Is that just 1" BL with 35s with highline , no other lift ?
                            Like to see more pics. Keep it up!
                            Yes, stock suspension (except for the front springs, which I think are RCs) and a 1" BL. It could use some new shocks and springs. I'll get a set OME sports and HD springs for it in the near future. It rides very well and is much more stable on the 35s. I think they are a good match for the Hemi and 4.10 gearing. The stocks tires that were on it before were too light and would chirp quite a bit. But the larger tires seem to fit the power output well. It still digs in no problem. I think the Hemi is ideal for the 45+ mph range. It's very comfortable to drive at highway speeds. No downshifting on hills or gear searching, it just trucks along no problem.

                            Once I get the fender flare here from AEV I'll take some more photos. To you guys who just picked up a Highline kit, pull your flares out and check them if you're waiting to install the kit. I didn't catch that one of mine was the wrong flare until we were getting ready to bolt it on.


                            A few extra photos of the install:

                            Removing the rivets from the metal strip that mounts the Sahara rocker trim
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                            Metal trimmed from the rear fenders. I had the trim a small amount out of the front portion of the rear fenders too - the small lip of metal next to the drainage seam.
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                            JSS Hemi motor mounts.
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                            Take off parts. I sold everything on Craigslist within 3 weeks. All of the take off parts paid for the wheels, tires, and the paint job for the Highline kit.
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                            Last edited by ranger; 01-19-2014, 12:37 PM.

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                            • #15
                              I took the Jeep out for a good shakedown run today. I disconnected the front sway bar and gave it a run on a few local trails. There is some minor rubbing at full flex in the rear wheel wells. Specifically, on the bottom front corner and a small amount on the drainage seam. I'll address that before the next trip out. All in all, the Jeep did well. Plenty of power and traction. The front and rear lockers engaged perfectly. I love having them operated by independent switches (as opposed to the factory toggle switch).

                              Some photos:
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