The annual Easter Jeep Safari may not be well known outside the realm of hard core off-road enthusiasts, but it's been a top-priority event at Jeep headquarters for decades and 2013 this year was no exception.
This was the 47th year Jeep owners gathered at Easter time in Moab, Utah, for a week of dirty driving, testing their machines and skills in the spectacular red rock country surrounding this vacation destination in the southeast part of the state. And over the decades, Jeep has been on hand to provide technical support and also to test reaction to Jeeps loaded with ideas from the factory.
For 2013, the Moab show properties included a half-dozen vehicles, all functional, all but one of them Wrangler-based, three created by Jeep's design staff, and three from Mopar, Chrysler's aftermarket parts operation. Mopar's Moab trio will serve to promote a new Jeep Performance Parts subdivision.
Aimed at what Chris Nowak, a Mopar senior product development manager, affectionately characterizes as Jeep's "lunatic fringe," the new performance parts umbrella will include suspension components, exhaust systems, engine hardware, wheels, tires, and cosmetic elements.
The Factory Concepts
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Characterized as the "most extreme Grand Cherokee ever," the Trailhawk's bright trim has been removed, and sports a hood and front fascia from the hot rod SRT8. It rides on Dodge Durango trailer tow rear springs with 35-inch tires, and is propelled by Jeep's new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6.
Jeep Wrangler Stitch Noting that serious rock-crawlers tend to load their Jeeps with gear that adds mass, the Stitch concept is designed to suggest ways to reduce curb weight without giving up off-road enhancements. Highlights include fabric body panels, a carbon fiber hood, aluminum control arms, and a chrome moly roll cage. All told, the package is about 3000 pounds, lighter than a stock Wrangler Rubicon according to Jeep.
Jeep Wrangler Flattop Though it's well fortified with off-road hardware, including 37-inch tires, the Flattop concept is about style. Copper trim accents and a two-inch top chop distinguish the exterior. Copper highlights are repeated inside, and dark saddle tan leather seats lend an upscale look inside.
The Mopar Concepts
Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon With a 470-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V8 under its hood, the battleship gray Recon is loaded with Mopar parts, including two prototype components yet to appear in the catalogue -- a new 4.5-inch long arm lift kit, and eight-lug beadlock wheels wearing 39-inch tires. Awaiting DOT approval, the wheels keep tires from de-beading when they're deflated for certain traction situations.
Jeep Wrangler Slim Not as radical as the Wrangler Stitch, the Slim entails a number of weight-reducing details by Mopar. Based on the Wrangler Sport, and lighter than the Wrangler Rubicon, the Slim is conceived to provide comfort as an everyday driver, as well as rugged off-road use.
Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II An update on the Sand Trooper displayed at the 2012 SEMA show, the high-riding Trooper II features a 375-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8, as well as a long list of Mopar hardware. The prototype beadlock wheels wear 40-inch knobby tires, and LED lights are mounted in the wheels wells for rock-hopping at night.
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