Engine swaps are often talked about like some straightforward operation, like something an Average Joe could pull off with nothing but an interchangeable-tip screwdriver. In reality, we get worked up over them because they’re not; they usually require custom motor mounts, wiring work, different flywheels and clutches, and oftentimes lots of calibration. This all goes without mentioning things downstream of the engine that may need reinforcement too, like the transmission, differentials, or axles. So, when we found out America’s Most Wanted 4×4 was stuffing an 800+ horsepower Dodge Demon crate engine into a Jeep Gladiator Mojave, I asked them what was entailed in properly executing one of their super-swaps—and they told me exactly how it goes down.
Chief among the challenges presented by exchanging a Gladiator’s 3.6-liter V6 for a supercharged, 6.2-liter Demon V8 is torque. That Pentastar makes 260 pound-feet of it. The Demon? 717, or the better part of triple the factory output. Forcing that through the Gladiator’s stock transmission would result in a noise like a Pringles commercial, so America’s Most Wanted—who is one of the largest buyers of Mopar crate engines and accessories in the country—traded it for a transmission from another heavy-duty, high-power application: the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
This ZF-made eight-speed automatic forwards torque into the transfer case via a custom input shaft, which has been upgraded from 23 splines to a stronger 43-spline design machined from anodized 6061 billet aluminum. The case it feeds is a New Venture Gear 241 HD, found in some older Ram 3500s, though with 4:1 low-range gearing for rock crawling.
From there, torque flows down long-travel drivelines into Dana axles (a 60 up front, an 80 out back) fitted with ARB Air Locker 4.88:1 differentials. These divide power between each eight-lug, 17×9 wheel, whose bead locks clamp down on 40-inch Maxxis Razr MT tires, guaranteeing traction however lose the terrain.
This specific Gladiator’s Demon conversion also includes plenty of non-drivetrain custom work, encompassing everything from cooling to brakes, steering and suspension, plus an array of off-road accessories such as power steps, a winch, and an onboard air compressor. Just about everything one can do to a Jeep without compromising its daily usability has been done, and AMW is so confident in its work that it offers a three-year conversion warranty, with one year worth of free labor.
Such confidence, though, comes at a price: The Jeep shown here carries a price tag of $178,285 and will be sold exclusively through LaFontaine Jeep in Fenton, Michigan. That’s more than $50,000 pricier than the Shelby F-250 Super Baja we looked at last month, though with its powertrain untouched, that truck was rightfully burned for being a costly combo of a lift kit and Shelby branding. With this Demon-swapped Gladiator, you at least get truckloads more power than SUVs that start around its price point—looking at you, Bentley Bentayga.
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