Tuner Trucks: Kenny Brown A3 Aviator
Flying In Style
Kenny Brown knows a little something about performance. Anyone who has driven one of his tuner cars—say, the 475-hp Ford Mustang Cobra S or 450-hp supercharged Mercury Marauder S—can bear witness to that. But the latest project by the company that carries his name, the 2004 Kenny Brown A3 Aviator, proves he also has a sense of style. Just what kind of style we haven’t quite figured out; we’ll call it, um, personal for now.
Oh, the gussied-up sport/ute looks fine from the outside. In fact, the $4,950 optional exterior package gives it a richer, more urbane appearance than the stock Lincoln (itself no styling slouch—for an SUV). The Aviator’s unique grille, front and rear fascias and doorsills work well with its lowered suspension and 20-inch chrome wheels; it looks more polished, tied together. While we would never think to off-road the machine (has anyone ever off-roaded an Aviator?), we definitely felt at home cruising down Detroit’s famous Woodward Avenue.
The interior, however, is a different story.
Playing off the vehicle’s badge, Kenny Brown (kennybrown.com ) teamed up with Avirex, a supplier of leather jackets to the Air Force—and now big-time supplier to the hip-hop scene—to give its Aviator a custom bomber jacket-inspired interior. No joke: All five seating positions are swathed in leather and wool shearling ŕ la the crew of the Flying Fortress. Even the armrests—both over the center console and on the doors—are coated in the soft, white, puffy stuff. Feels nice in the hands and cushy on the, um, posterior regions, but we couldn’t help wondering how the heck someone would keep it clean.
Okay, so perhaps practicality is beside the point; we know that style often comes with a price. Literally. Like $5,100. That’s how much the custom interior treatment will set you back.
Style aside, the Kenny Brown Aviator adheres perfectly to the company’s formula, with increasing levels of performance available as options packages. The Aviator starts with a base performance package, including a K&N fuel-injection kit and stainless cat-back exhaust, lowered springs, front and rear antiroll bars and 20-inch chrome wheels shod in 265/45-VR Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber. That package increases power output from the 4.6-liter V8 to 325
horses (over the stock Lincoln’s 302) and costs $9,950.
Our test vehicle also sported a Vortech supercharger and intercooler that upped power even more to 425 hp, a front brake kit with 15-inch rotors and more robust KW Euro coilover shocks at all four corners, all part of a performance package priced at $14,950. Sounds like a lot of cash, but if nothing else we’d spring for this package. The suspension tuning alone gives the Aviator a solid, confident, almost-flat-handling feel to it, while that supercharger blows out enough power to scoot around anything on the freeway with ease, even if the transmission is a little slow on the uptake. An SUV shouldn’t feel this confident, but the Kenny Brown Aviator does. And man, does it sound badass.
It sounds so good—at idle or at speed, exhaust note to supercharger whine—that we almost forgot to take time to sample the custom multimedia equipment. Some of us found it hard to discern what any of the myriad microscopic buttons were supposed to do, so it was difficult for some to take advantage of the add-on sound system. The $14,900 (gulp!) electronics package included an Alpine 5.1 DVD Mobile Multimedia Station with DVD-based GPS navigation system; digital signal processor; a 5.8-inch widescreen monitor mounted in the back of each front seat; four-channel amplifier with remote control, 10-inch subwoofer and custom speaker sets. One technophile editor who understood the system had the dual amps banging all the bass you could ever want, the tinted windows practically bursting from their seals. One potential drawback: If you rock out all the time, you may have to constantly tighten the interior’s plastic trim.
At this point, if anyone has been keeping track of the numbers, you’ve realized there are $49,850 in options. The Lincoln Aviator, equipped with heated and cooled seats and high-intensity discharge headlamps, costs $45,125 to start. Added together, that’s $94,975. Read that again and then remember this Aviator started life as an Explorer. For that kind of cash, the Kenny Brown A3 Aviator should at least be able to fly, don’t you think?