For the last few years at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, Jeep has taken the opportunity to show off some of the latest and greatest from the Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts catalogues. They do this by building some impressive and amazing concepts to display and take out on the famous trails. This year Jeep brought seven concepts, ranging from mild off-road improvements to wild one-off dream jeeps. Here's a look at what Safari attendees will get to see at the 50th annual event running March 19 to 27.
Let's start with the milder Jeep Trailstorm. This is a Wrangler Unlimited that has been lightly modified with parts from the Jeep Performance lineup to help improve trail and off-road capability. It has 17-inch wheels and 37-inch tires, made possible with help from a 2-inch lift kit and Fox shocks. It has a Jeep Rubicon winch and Dana 44 axles front and rear. Further helping off-road are Mopar rock rails, a big brake kit, front and rear steel bumpers, and taillight guards. Other add-ons include cosmetic items like a satin black grille, LED headlights, Mopar fuel filler door, Katzkin seat covers and bedliner applied to the interior.
Next up, something a little bit more crazy. Make that a lot more crazy. The 707-hp Hellcat-powered Jeep Trailcat. Jeep took a two-door Wrangler and stretched the wheelbase 12 inches. They also cut two inches from the windshield for a sleeker look. Behind the 6.2L supercharged V8 is a 6-speed manual transmission. Other features include a power-dome hood, LED headlights and rock rails. Underneath, you'll find 39.5-inch BF Goodrich tires, Dana 60 axles, and Fox shocks. The interior has bucket seats from the Viper with Katzkin covers. They might just be enough to keep you in place when exercising 707 horses on the trail. Trailcat decals on the hood make sure you know what you're looking at. Maybe this means that Hellcat Pacifica isn't so out there after all.
The Jeep Crew Chief 715 is a salute to the Kaiser M715 military vehicle. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, it adds bodywork inspired by the M715, which was produced between 1967 and 1969 to serve as the US Army's main light duty truck. It has four doors and a full length cloth top. The Crew Chief 715 has 20-inch beadlock wheels holding 40-inch NDT (non directional tread) military spec tires. The suspension has been upgraded with a 4-inch lift, Fox remote reservoir shocks, and Dana 60 axles front and rear. Jeep has also added an onboard compressed air system for airing up tires or operating tools on the trail. The interior has leather buckets with canvas inserts and aircraft-inspired control switches.
The Jeep Shortcut is a Wrangler modified to look like the CJ Jeeps of the 1950s. It has a body shortened by 26 inches, with tiny overhangs and a retro look. You'll find 35-inch tires with 17-inch body colour steel wheels, a unique hood and grille, and chrome bumpers. As with most of these concepts, there is a 2-inch lift, and the Shortcut has Dana 44 axles. The interior has low-back leather seats with retro plaid inserts and a four-point roll bar.
To show that even the smaller Jeeps are capable, Jeep showed the Renegade Commander with most of the accessory catalogue thrown at it. Two-inch lift, 17-inch wheels, and 29.5-inch tires. You'll find rock rails, skid plates, an off-road modified exhaust and front and rear auxiliary lights. The interior has Katzkin seat covers and body-coloured accents.
For a more extreme example of what is possible with a Renegade, Jeep built the Comanche pickup, with a design inspired by Jeep and Willys trucks of the past. The addition of the pickup bed comes with a 6-inch wheelbase stretch to give it some actual cargo space. Jeep has also chopped the top, replacing it with the soft top from a Wrangler and giving it an open air feel. Under the hood is a 2.0L turbodiesel 4-cylinder from the European market Renegade with a 9-speed automatic. There is also a 2-inch lift, low range with locking rear differential, a winch, 16-inch wheels and 32-inch BFGoodrich tires.
Last, but possibly most interesting is the FC150. This takes an original 1960 FC150 forward control body and drops it on the frame of a 2005 TJ Wrangler. Under the hood is a Jeep favourite 4.0L inline-six attached to a 3-speed automatic. It has been modified to carry a Dana 44 axle in front and a 60 in the rear. At the mud are 17-inch steel wheels in 33-inch BFGoodrich tires. Inside are vinyl seats and a CB radio.
Some of these concepts you could build yourself with parts from Jeep's catalogues. Some of them would take a serious shop a long time to fabricate. Either way, they're some serious fun and some very interesting ideas from Jeep.