Posted Wednesday, Mar 21, 2018
Every spring, when Jeep heads to Moab for the annual Easter Jeep Safari, it builds a handful of heavily customized concepts to show off for the week. They’ll never go into production, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome. A few days ago, we saw teasers of what looked to be a Jeepster-themed Wrangler and an off-road-ready pickup truck, but today Jeep revealed all seven of this year’s concepts. As always, they look ridiculously cool.
Jeep says the lightweight 4Speed was built to be a follow-up to two previous concepts: the Pork Chop from 2011 and the Stitch from 2013. To save weight, the hood, fenders, and rear tub are made out of carbon fiber, while other body panels are now aluminum. Style-wise there’s a raked windshield, elongated door openings and an aggressively swept back custom cage. Because of the aforementioned weight savings, the 4SPEED’s ride height is 2 inches higher than a stock Wrangler. Meanwhile, off-road capability is enhanced by shortening the body by 22 inches while leaving the wheelbase at its stock length, resulting in increased approach and departure angles.
The 4Speed concept showcases the all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine and eight-speed automatic, and also gets Dana 44 front and rear axles, a 4.10 gear ratio, 18-inch monoblock wheels, and 35-inch mud-terrain tires. Inside, there’s a customized instrument panel, and re-trimmed front seats, while the rear seats have been removed and a welding curtain that has been repurposed as a bikini top. The floor has been bedlined and the foot wells have been replaced with perforated aluminum panels.
UPDATE: The 3.8-liter V-6-powered Pork Chop concept of 2011 boasted a weight savings of 900 pounds, and its follow-up, the 3.6-liter Stitch concept two years later saved 1,100 pounds. This 2.0-liter turbo-powered minimalist Wrangler weighs in 950 pounds lighter than the original stock two-door Wrangler—and that’s including the battery and all the standard e-Torq mild-hybrid gear. Super-fun fact: The Jeep design team bought a couple of extra-large snowboarding jackets from which these light-blue inserts were cut for the seats. -Frank Markus
Jeep says the Sandstorm was built to be a Baja racer that could still be used as a daily driver. It gets a vented carbon fiber hood, vented front and rear fenders, a cage that integrates a spare tire, chopped rear doors, and no rear swing gate. Jeep also added modified rock rails, tubular front and rear bumpers, an onboard air compressor, a race-style fuel filler, front auxiliary lights, and a chase light.
Under the hood, it gets a 6.4-liter V-8 paired with a six-speed manual transmission. After moving the front axle forward 4 inches and the rear axle back 2 inches, Jeep added a custom suspension that offers 14 inches of travel up front and 18 inches of travel out back. Dynatrac 60 axles with a 5.68 gear ratio were also swapped in, as well as 17-inch beadlock wheels and 39.5-inch off-road tires.
UPDATE: Wrangler as Raptor—sort of. This high-speed sand-runner’s custom Dynatrac 60 axles and leading-link/trailing-link front/rear suspension features impressive overall travel—14 inches in front and 18 inches in back. And its 392 cubic inch (aka 6.4-liter) Hemi is bolted to a six-speed manual simply “because manuals are more fun,” says Jeep head designer Mark Allen, acknowledging that they’re sub-optimal for winning races of any kind. And like the luxuriously appointed Raptor, the Sandstorm makes a few concessions to comfort, including the full stock interior, including windows, top, and stock seats for the front seat occupants. Those in back are roughing it under a bikini top in plastic buckets that sit on top of the shock absorbers and their reservoirs. Oh, and if you’re wondering what that is next to the racing-style fuel filler, it’s an air-chuck for tire inflation and so forth. -Frank Markus
The Renegade might be the smallest Jeep in the lineup, but it still got its own Easter Safari concept this year called the B-Ute. The custom Renegade gets a vented hood, wider fenders, and a modified front end. To make it more of an off-roader, Jeep then added a 1.5-inch lift, a roof rack, rock rails, 17-inch wheels, and off-road tires. Sadly, you won’t find anything crazy under the hood. It’s just a 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
UPDATE: If you were wondering how this, not-so-B-utiful concept came by that name, the body code for the Renegade is BU. Jeep considers the Renegade “the gateway drug” for the Jeep brand. And sorry, representatives on hand were unable to explain who Lt. Jenkins is or what FWD J337 meant. It all just lends a Mil-spec mystique, along with the custom-made roof rack and the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system mounted to the rear seatbacks to attach your gear to. -Frank Markus
Using a 1965 Jeep Wagoneer, this Roadtrip concept was built to bring back “nostalgic memories of going to Yellowstone National Park on a summer family vacation.” It’s been stretched by 5 inches, with the bodywork modified to compensate. Power comes from a 5.7-liter V-8 and a four-speed automatic, while custom fender flares made it possible to widen the track. With a reinforced frame, integrated rock rails, Dana 44 front and rear axles with locking differentials, and 17-inch wheels with 33-inch mud tires, the Wagoneer Roadtrip concept should be able to handle more than your basic family road trip.
UPDATE: This one started life as a 1965 Wagoneer sourced out west. It reportedly looked and smelled terrible, but was rust-free. Jeep completely dismantled it and resto-mod’ed it creating a new color deemed to suit the theme. The crowd-sourced name for said color: Mintage. The designers weren’t crazy about the ‘65’s central vertical grille either, so they substituted a “razor” style full-width grille from ’66-’69. All of the flat side and rear glass was reproduced in Coke-bottle green tint. They had plenty of fun decorating the car with vintage tourist-destination decals, and in back they fashioned a cooler out of two vintage suitcases and a tool box made of the original I-6 engine’s valve cover. -Frank Markus
Painted Nacho yellow, the Nacho Jeep is basically a rolling Jeep Performance Parts catalog. Highlights include a Rubicon bumper, a Warn winch kit, tube doors, a 2-inch lift, 2.5-inch body shocks, and 37-inch tires on 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels. Jeep also added LED lights to the brush guard and A-pillars for better visibility on the trail, as well as a rear scouting light.
UPDATE: You could almost replicate this vehicle at your dealer now, by ordering a two-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in the new Nacho paint color and spending about $14,000 on catalogue aftermarket parts available from Jeep. The stuff you can’t get quite yet includes the 40,000 lumens’ (!) worth of forward lighting and the cool trail-scouting rear “light antenna.” The hood is still a prototype concept, and it features functional air extractors and a “door” in the passenger side of the hood that can be opened to admit cold air, or closed in extreme conditions to avoid sucking in water or mud. That same opening can accept the snorkel found on the J-Wagon. -Frank Markus
Viewed from the front, the Jeepster concept looks a lot more like a regular Wrangler, but its retro paint job doesn’t look any less cool. The Jeep Performance Parts catalog provided the hood, as well as the off-road lighting and the Rubicon steel bumper. The Jeepster also gets a 2-inch lift kit, 2.5-inch body shocks, 37-inch tires on 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, a tubular roll cage, and a 38-inch in-cabin spare tire.
UPDATE: Joe Dehner, head of Ram and Mopar design, says that if the Jeepster gets a really favorable response in Moab, replicating a similar fast-backed top like this, but designed for the stock windshield and roof height, would be a fairly easy part to tool and implement. The same goes double for these concept Rock Slider rock rails. Oh, and if you love the gear on the back, it’s available from RotopaX now—jerry cans, tool boxes, etc. to fit where your spare was. -Frank Markus
Like the Nacho Jeep, the J-Wagon was built to show what’s possible with enough parts from the JPP catalog. Instead of turning the Wrangler Sahara into a hardcore off-roader, though, Jeep built the J-Wagon to look a little more civilized. It pairs a JPP hood with a snorkel, LED lights on the A-pillars, a blacked out grille, several Brass Monkey design details, and 17-inch wheels. Jeep then added a JPP roof rack, concept rock sliders, and a spare 35-inch tire. To keep the civilized look going inside, the J-wagon gets caramel-colored leather seats and more Brass Monkey trim.
UPDATE: Fun fact: Simply mounting the Rubicon style fenders and rear flares provides clearance for 35-inch rolling stock. No lift-kit required (and you get a slight lift out of the deal just from the bigger tires). Oh, and that snorkel kit arrives in May, by which time they may be ready to quote a revised fording depth (you can expect the official figure to be lower than the opening in that snorkel, which would require the driver to breathe through a snorkel of his/her own. -Frank Markus