Legacy's Scrambler Conversion Jeep is the Perfect Go Anywhere Off-Roader: Review
Jeeps hold a special place in American culture—they can go anywhere, tackle anything, and do so with relatively no complaint. But over the years, models have grown wider, looser, and in most cases, heavier. With that in mind, a company called Legacy has created the ultimate Scrambler Conversion. And like the original Willys from more than a half-century ago, it's lighter, more agile, and can tackle pretty much anything. RELATED: Read Our Full Review of the Rugged Ridge Jeep Kilroy
'Simplify and Add Lightness' Is Not Just For Sportscars
3,300 pounds. That’s all this Legacy Scrambler Conversion weighs. The body? Aluminum. The wheels? Aluminum. The turbo-diesel six-cylinder tuned by Gale Banks? You guessed it, aluminum. Everything that could be made out of aluminum was done so, but not in a way that would leave you stranded in the middle of the Mojave at 2am.
All the real weight is low on the chassis, meaning while it’s on road, it handles more like a soccer-mom SUV, rather than a lifted Jeep on 38-inch tires. The weight is in the rugged transfer cases, the steering rack, the suspension pieces lifted off King of the Hammers off-road race, and the axles. It’s engineered to take a beating, put away wet, left for nine months, then take a whole new beating.
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All The Torque
For decades, Gale Banks and his eponymous Banks Performance have been tuning and building from scratch some of the best engines out there. Banks himself has been instrumental in the development and widespread use of turbochargers, as his work through the 1970s, '80s, and '90s resulted in reduced turbo-lag and high-power engines that would not grenade. In the Legacy Scrambler Conversion, Banks’ military-spec 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder diesel supplies the power. The US Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps’ use this motor in the Boeing Badger, a sort of off-road special ops vehicle that’s currently seeing action around the globe.
The 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine only produces 240 horsepower, but an impressive 430 pound-feet of torque, and it’s capable of much, much more. However, due to the Legacy Scrambler’s extremely low weight, it doesn’t need more power or torque. Climbing steep grades, drop the hybrid Chevy/Banks transmission into either first or second, and it will crawl up on idle. You’re never wanting more power. Even on the road, if you stomp on the accelerator, it will scoot away at a rather brisk pace.
You Can Fix It With A Hammer
With its military background, the entire engine and wiring harness has been sealed like a drum. The engine is completely water, air, and chemical tight. Banks designed the engine require an oil change only once each year, which means this truck is virtually maintenance-free. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be easy to work on if you did break it.
Legacy ensured that no matter where you are—whether that’s the African Bush or the wilds of Siberia—you can essentially fix everything with a hammer. The axles can completely separate from the wheels without removing those. The fuse box is right against the firewall right as you open the hood. Even the caps to check your oil, coolant, brake fluid, and other liquids have all been transferred to the top of the engine for ease of access.
The basic engine architecture is from Chrysler’s EcoDiesel, meaning if you need to replace a part, you’re more likely to find one than having to wait ten months because only one dealership in the world has it in stock.
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You Pay For Perfection
It has a Nardi steering wheel, axles, and transfer cases that will never break, beadlock aluminum wheels, Recaro seats that were strictly built just for this Scrambler, and the engine alone costs over $30,000. What Legacy has built here is on par with Jonathan Ward’s Icon FJs and Derelicts, almost as attentive to detail as Singer's Porsches, and as expensive as the two.
It starts at $110,000. For that though, you don’t get the Banks diesel engine, the big beadlock wheels, or the tougher suspension. Rather, you’ll get a CARB and EPA certified Chevy LS3 V8 and vintage style rims. Add another $40,000, and Legacy will build you a Scrambler like the one you see before you. What you are getting, though, is a Jeep Scrambler that was built with modern conveniences that can either take you to the grocery store or into the middle of the Amazonian jungle and back without issue.
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More often than not, hopping behind the wheel of a vintage-looking 4x4 or rugged SUV has a "never-meet-your-heroes" feel to it (see: Land Rover Defender). Thankfully, that’s not what happened when we got behind the wheel of this Legacy Scrambler Conversion. It has vintage good looks, a powertrain from a military vehicle, a curb weight that’s beyond belief, and an ability to conquer the world. If we only have one gripe, it’s with the price.
Yes, you’re getting what you pay for, and Icon, Singer, AEV, and a few other coach built companies have shown that there is a market for super-expensive updated classics. Nevertheless, around $150,000 for a Scrambler is a heck of a lot of money for most of the population, especially when you consider this isn’t a vehicle you’d probably use every day. We’d love one, but we’d never be able to afford it.
Engine: 3.0L Turbocharged Six-Cylinder (Gale Banks Performance)
Torque: 430 lb-ft
Tackles mountains with ease
Lightweight; able to scamper over obstacles
30 miles to the gallon
Oozing in retro appeal
Expensive as heck
A little vague when steering on center
Photo Credit: Jonathon Klein for BoldRide