In the Spotlight: AEV TJ Brute and Four Wheel Camper Sparrow

TJ Brute with FWC Sparrow

This is the first in a series of “In the spotlight” articles that will profile rigs that most of us admire and that we’d all love to own. In this article, Truck Camper Adventure Magazine takes a closer look at a truck and camper combo that we’ve pictured on this site for over a year and one about which we’ve received numerous inquiries. 

The folks at Jeep make perhaps the best, most cost-effective 4×4 vehicles on the planet. Among these is the iconic, ever-popular Jeep Wrangler. Capable of traversing all types of terrain, the Wrangler is coveted by novices and experts alike for its durability and off-road capabilities. Indeed, sales for this venerable classic remain strong since the late 1980s. Even today the older CJ models of the 1960s through the 1980s are highly sought after. I think you’ll agree that there are few symbols of American ingenuity more enduring than the Jeep.

As discussed in a previous article, there is a whole market dedicated to modifying and tricking out the Jeep Wrangler. One such modification is the so-called “TJ Brute Kit” that converts your TJ Jeep Wrangler (1997-2006) into one mean, cargo hauling pickup truck. Produced by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). the kit can be purchased for a reasonable price of $8,995. The kit includes mid frame and rear frame extensions, a 14 gauge truck bed with tailgate, a cab closeout, Brute hard top, body mounts, and fuel and brake lines. AEV claims that the kit is already 90 percent constructed and takes just 60 hours to install if you do the work yourself. The great thing about this kit is that you can take a beat-up or partially wrecked TJ and convert it into a rare Jeep pickup that will be admired wherever you take it.

The TJ Brute by itself is pretty cool, but what really takes it over the top (pun intended) is teaming it with a pop-up truck camper. The folks at Four Wheel Campers (FWC) make what I think is the perfect lightweight, four wheel drive pop-up truck camper. FWC’s are rugged, sport a low profile, and offer a low center of gravity–perfect for getting far off the beaten path. The camper featured here is their so-called Sparrow, which, unfortunately, is no longer being made. Fortunately, FWC was kind enough to provide some information on this discontinued camper. The Sparrow weighs about 650 pounds, features an all-aluminum flex frame, and offers an extended queen size bed. Tank capacities are pretty decent, too, for such a small camper with a 16 gallon fresh water tank and two 10 pound propane tanks. The Sparrow was listed at $12,595.00 without options.

Pictured below are the two together. I think you’ll agree that the two look pretty impressive together. The pair make what is not only one of the best off-road campers on the planet, but also one of the best bug-out RVs you’ll ever find. This rig can go practically anywhere over some of the worst roads and terrain you can imagine. No, the camper doesn’t have a bathroom and won’t accommodate a large family, but it can support two people comfortably and comes with everything you would expect to see in a well-equipped RV, including a queen size bed, two burner cook-top, a refrigerator, and a kitchen sink with hand pump. Not surprising, the TJ Brute requires a set of custom springs to support the extra weight of this camper.

TJ Brute with Four Wheel Camper

TJ Brute and FWC Sparrow

TJ Brute and FWC Sparrow

FWC Sparrow Interior

TJ Brute and FWC Sparrow

If I was wealthy and didn’t have kids in college, the TJ Brute and  FWC Sparrow would definitely be a truck camper rig that would be in my garage. As an off-road and truck camper enthusiast, the two are cool-looking and make for a very compelling pair that would be perfect for weekend getaways here in the desert southwest.

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About Mello Mike 298 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure Magazine. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a truck camper and Jeep enthusiast, and has owned and restored several Airstream travel trailers. He enjoys college football, hiking, travel, off-roading, photography, and fishing. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years and now works as a project manager for a major banking and security firm. He also does some RV consulting and RV inspections on the side.

17 Comments

  1. For an off-road adventure with friends or a simple family camping trip, the Jeep Brute is the best vehicle. It’s comfortable and has enough storage room. Just toss in your tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gears, and start your adventure.

  2. I have a Land Rover LR3 and a Land Rover LR2 for my wife. While I enjoy Jeep and their offerings, once I purchased my first Discovery in 1995 there is nothing else I would drive. The comments of reliability are a misnomer as Land Rover is plain and simply just killer.
    My first vehicle was a 1970, 3 on the fly Ford Bronco, which I still have, covered and in my garage. Second was the Land Cruiser…which I still have, covered, in my garage. Third was the Discovery which I traded in when purchasing my LR3. I still do not know why I did that, but, there sits my '05 LR3 with 116,000 miles on it.
    I just pulled a 6 x 12 trailer (very full) from Seattle to Burlington Vermont while taking detours to visit family and friends across the country with my LR3. Not a single issue.
    Lovely vehicle.
    Expensive to maintain but so am I.
    It took two semis to get my other vehicles and belongings from Seattle to Vermont. I will never move again as long as I live.
    I am going to lay face down on this floor and not move for ten days.
    I found your site seeking solar advice. Thank you thank you thank you for your articulate information. Most helpful!
    Have a good summer!

    • I'm with you. I hate moving. I'm doing it right now, as a matter of fact, and will have to do so again in 18 months. As for your LRs, yes, they're great vehicles, too. The only thing they lack is the "cool" factor.

  3. Mike

    They call people like you mean. No all kiddin' aside good article. Just getting around to reading it.
    Thanks for another great article.

  4. So…I came to check out the Yellow Jeep Dad's blog. Right smack dab on the top of the homepage is a story regarding an imitation Scrambler! Scrambler = my favorite type of Jeep!

    I'm hooked and subscribed. We may have to do a trail run!

    Orange Jeep Dad
    Mesa, AZ

  5. I've got to admit that would really be cool. However, it would certainly be too expensive for us to make that conversion. It'd probably be cheaper just to sell our Jeep and buy a pickup. Maybe when we win the lottery we'll think about it.

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