Chrysler's engineers have been busy lately. Mark Allen, head of the Jeep design studio, has introduced a total of eight new concept vehicles at this year's Easter Jeep Safari. Each one has been worked up by the company's off-road engineering team, and while most are nothing more than pure fantasy, at least a few can be crafted out of parts available from the Mopar go-fast catalog. Even better, all have the off road guts to go anywhere you please.
That includes the Jeep Wrangler J7. Consider this the stripped-down beast we would build if Chrysler gave us the keys to the kingdom for a week. Fluffy stuff like carpet, the stereo and alloy wheels have been ditched in favor of more utilitarian goods. New all-steel bumpers, complete with helicopter hooks, join a sturdy rear gate and steel wheels wrapped in 35-inch rubber. A small 2-inch lift helps accommodate the larger rollers, and the eye-searing Mustard Plug paint sets the truck apart from the crowd. While we have no problem with the 3.8-liter V6, we would probably swap the four-speed automatic gear box for a row-your-own.
Speaking of rowing your own, the Jeep Patriot Extreme is more than happy to accommodate third-pedal lovers everywhere. While Wrangler guys may be quick to rag on the baby Jeep, this Patriot is more than capable of dispatching rough terrain. A two-inch suspension lift gives the trail-rated package just a little more clearance, and custom rock rails protect the bodywork from getting too close to the trail. We're also digging those 16-inch TJ Moab wheels, extra lighting on the bumper and roof rack for... snowboards?
Chrysler says it turned out the Wrangler Trail Boss (right) just to show off all of the products available from the Jeep trail catalog. The truck's specs read like a recipe for a Wrangler wish list. Outside, the most noticeable difference between the Trail Boss and a standard Wrangler is the addition of new AEV off-road bumpers, complete with a Warn 9.5ti winch, though the half-doors and sun bonnet do much to alter the truck's attitude, too. A 3-inch lift kit allows for healthy 35-inch rubber down below, wrapped around those slick Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlock wheels. Click the jump to read about the rest of the Mopar monsters.
Our personal favorite? That has to be the Jeep Nukizer 715 (above). While the name could use a little work, this truck is the epitome of what we want to see Jeep produce. Designed as an homage to the legendary Kaiser M-715, this beastie makes use of a J8 two-door body and an aftermarket AEV Brute pick-up bed. Chrysler's engineers built that leaning front nose out of carbon fiber, and stretched the frame to 124 inches to make a little more room for the new bodywork. It only gets better when we start talking drivetrain. At its beating heart, the Nukizer 715 uses a 2.8-liter tubo-diesel four-cylinder mated to a four-speed slusher. A Dana 44 axle sits up front, backed up by a Dana 60 in the rear, both with 5:38 gear ratios. Perfection? You're looking at it.
If a standard pick-up is more your speed, Chrysler has you covered with the Ram PowerWagon Concept. This sucker is a complete one-off that uses a custom-fabricated frame and a unique step-side bed on a 120-inch wheelbase. Engineers pulled the coil-suspension from the Ram 1500 to give the PowerWagon a little more flex over uneven terrain, and threw in a 4-inch suspension lift and 40-inch tires for good measure. The truck strikes an intimidating presence, to be sure, and the look is backed up by Chrysler's 5.7-liter V8 and a five-speed automatic transmission.
The Mopar crowd also took a shot at creating their own rock crawler with The General – a 2009 Wrangler built for scrambling over the big stuff. A 4.5-inch lift kit gives the truck a little extra reach, and tricks like those flat fenders and half doors give the driver a little extra visibility, too. The standard bumpers have been ditched in favor of hard steel units, and rock sliders along both rockers are ready to take some serious abuse on your favorite trail. It looks good as it is, but we wouldn't mind seeing a few hard earned scratches and dings along that perfect bodywork.
The Ford guys have had a lot to brag about with the new F-150 SVT Raptor, and Chrysler engineers have taken notice. Their answer? The Ram Runner (right). Built to handle the kind high-speed desert action you'd find in Baja, the Ram Runner comes packed with a mind-melting suspension. You'll find three-inch diameter internal-bypass Fox Racing shocks (just like those used in the Raptor) wedged up and under those fiberglass fenders, along with all-aluminum A-arms. The result is a staggering 14-inches of travel front and rear. The company is keeping any power claims to themselves at the moment, but odds are there's some significant grunt on tap. Best of all, the suspension is a prototype of one that will be offered by Mopar later this year.
The finale of the big eight is the Mopar ImMortal, which, despite some odd capitalization that makes the truck read more like "I'm Mortal" than "Immortal," actually boasts some hardcore equipment. A set of specially-adapted Portal axles provide a full five-inches of lift on top of a 1.5 gear reduction. Throw that in with the ImMortal's 4: 1 transfer case, and this Wrangler is capable of a ridiculous 100:1 final drive. Oh, this? It's built for climbing trees.
The Moab Easter Jeep Safari has always been a draw for off-road enthusiasts of every color, and Chrysler has used the event to launch hardcore concepts since around 2002.
Mighty Mopar® Machines Arrive in Moab
Auburn Hills, Mich., Mar 31, 2010 - Chrysler Group LLC arrived with truckloads of head-turning, "Moparized" Jeep® and Ram Truck vehicles to showcase at the 44th annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
"Our customized production vehicles show how Mopar can accessorize Jeep and Ram vehicles that are on the road today while our image vehicles showcase directions we could take in the future," said Pietro Gorlier, President and Chief Executive Officer – Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care, Chrysler Group LLC. "We will gauge reaction to these vehicles. And as we develop our next generation of new Mopar parts and accessories, we will listen closely to this dedicated group of hard-core off-road enthusiasts."
The Mopar design team is a small group of dedicated engineers, designers and fabricators who are led by Mark Allen, Chief Designer – Head of Jeep Design Studio, Chrysler Group LLC. The Mopar design team has been customizing production vehicles since 2002 and has introduced nearly 20 concept vehicles to enthusiast crowds at the Moab Jeep Safari.
The Mopar off-road engineering team is led by Keith Montone, Manager – Mopar Jeep and Ram Off-road Engineering, Chrysler Group LLC. This experienced group of vehicle engineers is dedicated to providing Jeep and Ram customers with the best off-road parts and accessories. The team has introduced many new parts and played a key role in developing the first aftermarket lift kits available from an automotive manufacturer.
"Moab is a proving ground for us to test our vehicles on extreme trails alongside our customers," said Allen. "We will take all of the feedback we get from our customers right back to the design studio with us."
Following are six "Moparized" image vehicles that will be shown in Moab:
Jeep Wrangler J7
Built off of a four-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, the Jeep Wrangler J7 is designed to have the basic appeal of military-issued vehicles. The Mopar team removed standard content including carpet, fog lamps, alloy wheels and the stereo system before adding front and rear steel bumpers, 'helicopter hooks', a heavy-duty tailgate and steel wheels. Off-road capability is increased with a Mopar 2-inch suspension lift and 35-inch Mickey Thompson tires. The unique Mustard Plug exterior paint is highlighted with Jeep Wrangler J7 graphics.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Overall height: 74.3 inches
Overall width: 78.6 inches
Wheelbase: 116 inches
Weight: 4,482 lbs.
Tires: 35-12.50R/17 M/T Baja Claw radial
Jeep Patriot Extreme
The Mopar team started with a Sunburst Orange Jeep Patriot model equipped with the Trail-Rated off-road package and added a 2-inch Rocky Road Outfitters suspension lift, TJ 'Moab' 16-inch wheels, and BF Goodrich KM2 tires. Additional protection is added to the front and rear fascias with custom rock rails. Mopar added heavy-duty slush mats, Kicker audio and a roof-mounted snowboard carrier.
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve VVT I-4
Transmission: CVT2L with 19.1:1 first-gear crawl ratio
Overall height: 66.9 inches
Overall width: 69.8 inches
Wheelbase: 103.7 inches
Weight: 3,332 lbs.
Tires: 225-75R/16 BF Goodrich KM2 Mud Terrain
Jeep Wrangler Trail Boss
The Jeep Wrangler Trail Boss was built to showcase Mopar off-road products in the brand's trail catalog. The Trail Boss is a two-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that is built for serious off-road duty. The vehicle features a half-door kit, sun bonnet, front and rear AEV off-road bumpers, a Warn 9.5ti winch, rear-tire carrier, AEV hood, 3-inch lift kit, Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlock wheels, Katzkin leather seat trim kit, slush mats and a Kicker audio system.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6
Transmission: four-speed automatic
Overall height: 74.4 inches
Overall width: 78.6 inches
Wheelbase: 95.4 inches
Weight: 4,350 pounds
Tires: 35-12.50R/17 M/T Baja Claw radial
Jeep Nukizer 715
The Jeep Nukizer 715 is an all-purpose truck that pays homage to the beloved military-only Kaiser M-715 truck. With a military-issue Jeep J8 four-door, the Mopar team converted the vehicle into a pickup body style by adding an aftermarket AEV Brute pickup box built for a TJ. To increase the size of the vehicle, the wheelbase is stretched to 124 inches from 116 inches. Enforcing the brand's iconic M-715 is a new front clip produced in carbon fiber that re-creates the characteristic forward slant of the M-715 truck. To top it off, Bestop provided a unique soft top which artfully captures all of the quirks of the original.
Drivetrain upgrades include beefy Dynatrac Pro-Rock Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axles filled with 5:38 gears and ARB Airlocker differentials. Power is distributed by an Atlas II transfer case spinning custom driveshafts from Tom Woods. To keep the military look, tires are 38-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrains mounted on Hutchinson beadlock wheels.
The powerplant remains a J8-specific 2.8-liter turbo diesel I-4 that has been treated to a re-programmed controller for more boost. Fuel is supplied from a custom Gen-Right tank made specifically for this vehicle and mounts to the rear cross member.
For body protection, Mopar added Jeep Wrangler rock rails and off-road bumpers. Other features include a Warn 9.5XP low-profile winch equipped with a Master Pull synthetic winch line, Warn air compressor, Terraflex dual-rate front sway bar and Garmin GPS Map 640 navigation unit.
Engine: 2.8-liter turbo diesel I-4
Transmission: four-speed automatic
Overall height: 75.2 inches
Overall width: 78.6 inches
Wheelbase: 124 inches
Weight: 4,500 pounds
Tires: 38 x 14.50-R17 BF Goodrich KM2
The mighty Ram Power Wagon is the full-size pickup truck of choice in a range of off-road situations. For Mopar's Ram PowerWagon image vehicle, the team mated a unique 120-inch wheelbase chassis to a regular cab and step-side box. Axle articulation is greatly increased by utilizing the rear link-coil suspension of the Ram 1500. To gain additional ground clearance, Mopar added a new 4-inch suspension lift and 40-inch tires. Body protection comes from Rock-Slide Engineering-supplied sill guards, and custom front and rear bumpers. The spare tire is re-located to the cargo box. For visual impact, the team used a menacing two-tone black-on-white look, inspired by the wild paint schemes of Power Wagons in the 1970s.
Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Overall height: 81.5 inches
Overall width: 83.5 inches
Wheelbase: 120 inches
Weight: 6,500 pounds
Tires: 40-14.5R/17 BF Goodrich KM2 Mud Terrain
For the ultimate in rock-crawling capability, "The General" features a custom Mopar 4.5-inch performance lift kit installed on a 2009 Jeep Wrangler. A new flat fender kit and Mopar/Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlocks allow tire pressure to be safely lowered for extreme driving conditions. Front and rear off-road bumpers and rock rails offer serious protection while the Mopar half-door kit provides improved visibility. The hood and rear spare tire carrier feature custom Mopar graphics splashed across the Mopar Blue exterior.
Engine: 3.7-liter V6
Transmission: 42 RLE
Overall Height: 80 inches
Overall Width: 77 inches
Wheelbase: 94.5 inches
Weight: 4,000 lbs
Tires: 37-inch Goodyear MTR's
Following are select "Moparized" production vehicles that will be shown in Moab:
Mopar Ram Runner
This is a new kind of Ram. Inspired by Baja-style desert racing, this 4x4 is unlike any other in captivity. The rigors of off-road racing require large tires, plenty of ground clearance, extreme durability and a sophisticated suspension system capable of withstanding tremendous impact. These features are combined into a package that is stable at speed and rock-solid in the corners. To achieve this kind of handling, a low center of gravity and long wheel travel are paramount.
The Mopar Ram Runner has the look and feel of thoroughbred desert racer. Inspired by trophy trucks, steel front fenders and rear bed-sides are replaced with fiberglass, allowing tremendous suspension articulation with zero interference.
Prototype of full suspension that Mopar will offer later this year
35-inch x 12.5-inch x 17-inch DOT-approved General Grabber Competition tires
Three-inch diameter internal bypass Fox shocks provide front and rear motion control
6061 T6, billet aluminum upper A-arms contain rebuild-able, high-angle ball joints that permit a massive 14 inches of wheel travel
High-angle CV joints are combined with plunging, splined axles made of 300 M tool steel and 1.00-inch diameter high-angle tie rods
4130 chromed moly steel lower control arms
Variable-rate coils support bed loads while special control arms provide 14 inches of wheel travel
Custom tubular Baja bumper and aluminum skid plate combination that housed four high-powered, LED off-road lights
A six-point roll cage finalizes the package while a special tubular tire carrier keeps a spare handy in the bed while maximizing load space
The Mopar ImMortal is a Jeep Wrangler featuring portal axles, a 5.7-liter HEMI and off-road bumpers. Military-grade portal axle ends are engineered to mate to Mopar's Pro Rock and Power Wagon performance axles and adapted to fit the suspension. Portal axle ends provide 5 inches of lift and contain a 1.5 gear reduction. Combined with the 4:1 transfer case, the result is a hard-core 100:1 crawl ratio. The Mopar ImMortal is sheathed in Jeep performance body armor for intense protection.
Prototype Mopar portal axle assemblies
42 x 14.5 x 17LT Goodyear MTR tires
Mopar Jeep Wrangler 4:1 Rock Trac transfer case
Mopar Jeep Wrangler 2-inch lift kit
Mopar Performance body armor
Mopar AEV heat-reduction hood
Mopar half-door kit
Mopar sun bonnet
Mopar Jeep Wrangler seat covers
Paint – Viper Snakeskin Green Pearlcoat
Tom Woods custom drive shafts
AEV 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 conversion
Off-road front and rear bumpers
Hydraulic steering assist
Katzkin leather seats