Facelift for top seller
LOOKING for a head-turning work and play machine?
This high-riding hulk Brute could be the answer.
Custom-made in Australia from an American kit plus local components, the Brute combines off-road substance with unique style, all sitting handsome on a lengthened TJ Wrangler chassis.
It looks, and drives, like a factory job.
With added attitude. And just the tiniest of vibration through the steering wheel from those extra knobby tyres on this first example.
While Chrysler continues to toy with the idea of a pickup based on the current JK Wrangler (and those rumours are gathering strength), this Brute was
a first a SEMA concept truck. Built in 2005 by American Expedition Vehicles on the previous TJ model it was a real production possibility, stymied by the TJ being about to be replaced and early signs of looming global financial dramas in the US. So the Brute became a low production kit car and according to Stuart Murchison there’s only about 100 running around the world for now.
But the Queensland-based Murchison — offering boutique suspension solutions, snorkels and ECU tunes for Jeeps across Australia and the US— has built one as his business truck. And for $30,000-$35,000 on top of a donor vehicle, plus three months work, Murchison will build more. His Brute is worth about $75,000 as it rolls; customised with leather seats, air lockers, remote-locking and such. ‘‘As a small business I don’t want to let average things out there,’’ Murchison says about his Brutes and his suspension business. A long-time Jeep man, onetime suspension consultant and one-time BMW salesman, Murchison found more and more people chasing him for suspension ideas for Jeeps.
He discovered a void for kits for late-model Jeeps — six out of seven models run independent suspension and no-one was catering specifically for these.
Now he does business here and in the US with coils and shocks kits, plus snorkels, plus ECU diesel tunes.
For the Brute, Murchison suggests first chasing down a good donor vehicle, low kilometres and little off-road use.
The kit only suits
TJ Wrangler, built from 1996 to 2006, the later the vehicle the better and it needs the hard doors though soft tops and hardtops can be sold off.
Mid to late 2003 Jeeps for instance have better front seats; all run the four litre, sixcylinder engine but later models have six-speed manuals and four-speed automatics.
The Wrangler chassis is lengthened from 233cm to 297cm; driveline and other lines lengthened to suit and then new body and tub bolted on.
Murchison’s Brutes are fully complianced for registration in Queensland. He’s happy to build for southern customers to those specifications but individuals would then need to talk to local transport authorities. The height of body lifts and the size of tyres may be an issue. THE car that put Jaguar back in the black is new again, complete with a baby diesel engine that could mean an $80,000 starting price in Australia.
The updated mid-sized XF got simultaneous unveilings at the Shanghai and New York motor shows, with the American event focused on design and the China reveal concentrating on the latest 2.2-litre diesel.
In both cases, Jaguar design boss Ian Callum describes the XF update as the best facelift he has done in a 35-year history as a car stylist.
‘‘I’m very happy with it,’’ Callum says, referring to predictable but classy changes to the lamps, grille, bumpers and bonnet that give the XF more style to compete with the latest 5 SeriesBMWand Mercedes E-Class.
The update comes four years into the XF’s life as Jaguar’s top seller and money machine, and brings the diesel that could eventually account for more than half of sales. It’s a 2.2-litre four also used in the Land Rover Freelander 2 and has 140kW with a rousing 450Nm of torque.
More good news is an eight-speed automatic gearbox for the XF diesels, complete with a stop-start system to improve economy and cut emissions.
The updated XF goes into production in Britain in July and that points to an early 2012 introduction in Australia.
The car also comes with slight tweaks to the cabin, including better-shaped seats and a punchier sound system.
Not surprisingly, new-age safety systems are also added to the XF and the car will be available with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, adaptive lighting and hazard lights that trigger automatically during emergency braking.
Full details of the XF for Australia should be public around the middle of this year.