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Long-wheelbase stretch Jeep Wrangler spied

Wed, 24 Oct 2012

A Jeep Wrangler JK with a third row of seating was recently spied at a suburban Detroit gas station. Wearing manufacturer plates, at first glance it looked like a prototype being tested by the Auburn Hills manufacturer. Closer inspection of the photos showed pieces from Wixom, Mich.-based American Expedition Vehicles, including bumpers and wheels with the AEV logos covered by painter's tape.

A call to Mike Chetcuti, a co-owner of AEV and CEO of Livonia, Mich.-based Quality Metalcraft (QMC), a Tier One supplier, revealed the story behind the stretched Wrangler.

It seems our spy photographer caught what is being called the JK Six Pak Concept, a stretched version of the Wrangler that is on its way to the upcoming Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, where it will officially debut Oct. 30.

The concept vehicle adds 23 inches to the Wrangler wheelbase, leaving room for a third row. “Besides creating a cool-looking Jeep that seats six people comfortably, we're doing this to highlight the capability and expertise of QMC in body-in-white manufacturing and integration,” Chetcuti said.

QMC's engineering staff took the front half of a four-door JK and married it with the rear half of a two-door JK on the lengthened chassis. The chassis was designed and developed by AEV, using the same basic chassis the company uses for its Brute Double Cab overland pickup that is now in production.

“We've created a long-wheelbase JK with three rows of seating, two captain's chairs in each of the first two rows and a third-row bench. Hence, we're calling it the JK Six Pak,” Chetcuti said.

The vehicle is built from standard Jeep components and features an AEV 4.5-inch lift with Sevegre 17-inch wheels. Other accessories, all from AEV, include front and rear bumpers, heat-extractor hood, fuel-cell integrated gas can, roof rack, and front and rear corner guards.

For the interior, Chetcuti looked to Seattle-based outdoor outfitter Filson for its waxed cotton and canvas fabrics for seats, door panels and headliner.

At this point, the JK Six Pak is just a concept that will be shown at the outdoor Feature Vehicle Space at SEMA, Oct. 30 to Nov 2. But Chetcuti is not ruling out a limited-production run of the vehicle if there is demand. “This is a further exploration into our emphasis on flexible manufacturing,” he said.

“We are combining existing body-in-white components, augmenting some others and adding a few new pieces to show that we can create a derivative vehicle with extremely low investment in tooling.”

By Roger Hart