Brutality and the beast

by Andy Bryenton

There was a time when Jeep was the one and only word for a machine, which could take you anywhere. Well — there was another word, but it was very long, very German, and the year was 1941. The Willys Jeep was the Allied answer to muddy battlefields and the need to scout rapidly, deploy men in harsh conditions, and get out should the fearsome Panzer tanks make an appearance. 

Later adventures in military off-road design gave us Lamborghini’s breathtakingly silly, awesome LM002 and finally the bloated legacy of the Hummer. Here in New Zealand, we were more closely acquainted with the capable Land Rover Defender — and a line of Jeep products, which appealed to off-road enthusiasts, even when the Land Cruiser swept all before it in the 1980s.

Now Jeep is coming back with a proposition that looks like its time is ripe. You like big, capable utes, do you? You’re sick of faux SUVs, which blanch at a small puddle? How about a machine, then, which takes the Jeep Wrangler formula and adds a ute deck, as well as more raw testosterone than an early Schwarzenegger action film? If you’re interested, read on because it hasn’t just been made real. It’s apparently set to become a key part of the Jeep line-up. 

Whispers abound of a 2019 release date for the five-metre-long, massively powerful three litre turbo diesel Scrambler — its working name derived from a previous flat-decked Jeep. Computer renderings of its mighty diffs and chassis are already out there, along with sightings of the frankly enormous camouflaged prototype. For those who love the idea of Ford’s Ranger Raptor but also crave the bombproof lines of a main battle tank, a rumoured optional convertible top and enough cargo space to mount a small coup, this is it. For those who don’t want to wait, there is always the alternative. 

The Scrambler may not exist at all if it were not for innovative aftermarket wizards American Expeditionary Vehicles, who turn out a similar juggernaut named the Brute.

It’s now available here in New Zealand, this unmistakable, retro-cool monster. Though without the US-only option of a roaring 6 litre Hemi V8. Everything about the Brute is big, from its gigantic off-road tyres to its voluminous cabin. Deck space like the top utes is balanced with nice touches like a 26 litre water tank for survival situations. No matter which way you go — buy the Brute now or wait for the Scrambler, there’s one thing for certain. Nobody on or off the road will miss you.