Story and Photos by Dan Sanchez
With the fear of an apocalyptic end to 2012 (thank you Mayan calendar), the VWerks Recon pickup truck may have doomsday preppers selling their minivans to store one of these in the bunker. This custom-built, military-inspired vehicle is made from a 2011 Jeep pickup that has a M2 machine gun mounted to the bed and features armor plate and a full rollcage. The combination seems like the perfect match of off-road capability, acceleration of a V-8 and the firepower to repel any attackers looking to steal your stockpile of peanut butter and jelly.
VWerks built the Recon as a test bed for its military and off-road accessories. It put together what it thought was a great combination of parts and accessories, starting with a Hemi V-8 engine conversion. The 5.7-liter Hemi makes 390 horsepower and 407 pounds-feet of torque, giving the Recon more than enough power to accelerate quickly and climb some of the steepest terrain with ease. The engine is also fed with a functional cowl induction hood that contains heat-extractor side vents.
The factory Jeep JK suspension has been modified with a VWerks 4-inch lift kit, which consists of a 1.5-inch body-lift and new coil springs. A Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60 front axle replaced the factory JK unit, while the rear was replaced with a Dynatrac Pro80 axle, outfitted with a Detroit Locker. Both axles use 5.38 gears and ARB air lockers. The 39-inch tall BFG Krawler tires are mounted on 17-inch diameter Hutchison beadlock wheels, and a PSC front-steering Ram Assist is also used to provide precise steering. A set of front and rear Genright fenders were also added to allow the large tires to gain maximum approach and departure angles when encountering steep terrain.
The military appearance and function to the Recon includes a VWerks 7/16 bed armor plate. It not only protects the occupants, but it also provides a sturdy platform for the machine gunner perch. The custom-made full-bed cage provides overhead protection and a wide array of mounting points for tools, storage and hardware. The rear also has a custom-stitched canvas cover that conceals the bed from onlookers who might want to steal any additional ammo or items you’ve scavenged during your daytime post-apocalyptic excursions.
Of course, it’s hard not to notice the Replica M2 machine gun on the MK93 machine gun mount with ammo can. There’s also an M240 adaptor for a 600-round ammo can and a 360-degree rotary mount that was provided by Crane Technologies. It’s enough protection and firepower to take on a city full of fast-running zombies — and have fun doing it.
Just in case you need to haul a tank or tow a vehicle out from a steep highway ditch, VWerks added a military-style rear bumper with a variety of towing and recovery attachment point combinations. There’s even a Warn 9.5ti winch that can be operated from inside the cab. But the inside of this vehicle isn’t full of armor or even a metal dash. The interior is where the military theme gives way to additional comfort and convenience. Two-tone Katzkin leather upholstery and VWerks floor mats provide a plush feel. All the instruments and gauges are factory JK Wrangler and include all the comforts you’d expect from a 2011 Jeep. But Mopar half-doors allow an open view of terrain and a dash-mounted switch operates a set of powerful PIAA 520 ATP lamps that can expose any threat hiding in the darkness.
The Recon is definitely a vehicle that makes an impression. It’s when you step back and admire the capabilities and accessories on a vehicle like this that you wonder why some warlord would prefer to mount a machine gun on a pole and weld it into the bed of an old Toyota pickup?
All kidding aside, the potential for full military applications of the Recon isn’t hard to see. Even some toned-down versions of it — obviously without the machine gun and mounts — could be great for hunters or even farmers who constantly need to haul hardware through difficult terrain. While the Recon is more than the JK8 pickup, it’s a serious vehicle that has lots of potential for just about any purpose.
VWerks sells the Recon as a turn-key vehicle — ready to take on whatever challenge you may have for it.