Jeeps in Moab: Concepts go off-roading
The week leading up to Easter Sunday marked the 52nd annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. In addition to being the biggest enthusiast gathering in the country, this is also a major event for the Jeep brand, which over the past several years has taken advantage of the opportunity and revealed a series of concepts against the background of Moab's steep canyons and orange buttes.
This year there were seven, and they did not disappoint.
The Wagoneer Roadtrip started off as a dilapidated 1965 Wagoneer that the Jeep design team purchased from Craigslist. They proceeded to "resto-mod" it, or both restore and modify it, stretching and altering the bodywork and installing a 5.7-liter V8 mated to a 4-speed automatic plucked from a Dodge Dakota.
The Wagoneer is all about the details, which are aplenty. In the cargo area sits a cooler disguised as vintage luggage and a toolkit made from the Wagoneer's original valve cover. The windows, which have been replaced with architectural glass, are adorned with vintage national park stickers, while brochures and maps of the parks and national forests in Utah and Colorado sit on the front seat.
The Sandstorm is a high-speed, rock-crawling desert racer, indicative of a hypothetical factory-built entry into the grueling King of the Hammers race. The Sandstorm started life as a Wrangler Unlimited, and still retains the Unlimited's rear doors, albeit in chopped-form. Just about everything else has been replaced and upgraded, though, with a heavy-duty suspension featuring long-travel shocks, an extended wheelbase and a racing-style dashboard. The standard powerplant was dropped in favor of a throaty Mopar 6.4-liter V8 mated to a 6-speed manual. Long-travel shocks, an onboard air compressor for airing down tires and a gutted interior round everything out. This thing is fun on four wheels.
The 4SPEED is the third in a line of lightweight-themed Easter Jeep Safari concepts from Jeep, following up on 2011's Pork Chop and 2013's Stitch, but is the first to be based on the all-new 2018 Wrangler. The 4SPEED sees the removal of any unnecessary weight via the elimination of the rear seats, interior carpeting and the stereo and HVAC systems. Body panels were replaced with carbon fiber, and overhangs were shortened, reducing overall weight and increasing approach and departure angles. Because of all this addition by subtraction, the 4SPEED now rides two inches higher on its stock suspension. The new Wrangler's available 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo keeps the weight down further.
The Jeepster channels an all-time classic, the 1966-1972 Jeepster Commando. Based on a Wrangler S, the Jeepster follows the common theme here when it comes to modifications below the beltline, receiving a lift, larger tires and a host of auxiliary lighting. Things get interesting when you look to the top, though, which has been chopped and modified to resemble that on the original Jeepster Commando. The rake of the windshield has been increased, and the standard Wrangler doors replaced with accessory half doors. Out back, a pair of RotopaX storage containers are mounted where the spare tire used to be. The spare now resides where the back seats were, mounted to a custom roll-cage.
The Nacho Jeep gets its name from its Nacho paint color, which is currently only produced in low volumes for the JL Wrangler. Used as an example of the endless possibilities offered by the Jeep Performance Parts Catalog, the Nacho Jeep is an accessories hotbed. Among the highlights are tube doors, a copious amount of extra lights and a unique trail light mounted above the spare tire that changes colors depending on the vehicle's speed. This allows a driver to relay conditions on the trail ahead to those following behind.
The Renegade is internally referred to as the '"B-Utility," hence the name of this Renegade-based concept. Unlike the Renegade-derived Comanche pickup concept from 2016, the B-Ute keeps things pretty tame, indicative of what one might make from a Renegade Trailhawk if they wanted just a little more overlanding capability. Wearing a unique color along with custom front and rear fascias, the B-Ute receives more aggressive BF Goodrich KO2 tires wrapped around wheels with a larger offset, all supported by a suspension that's been given a one-inch lift. Up top is a custom platform-style roof rack, while the rear seatbacks wear a MOLLE gear-storage system. Unique graphics also adorn the exterior, while the seats are trimmed in custom fabric.
The J-Wagon is meant to be the ultimate off- and on-road Wrangler. Jeep's representatives weren't shy about the fact that its name alludes to another world-renowned SUV from a certain German competitor. The J-Wagon wears a unique, warm neutral-grey paint job, brass- and orange-colored accents and tinted windows. It's got a snorkel, custom rock rails, a roof-rack and a-pillar-mounted trail lights. Inside is a mix of off-road ability and luxury, with locking front and rear differentials from the Rubicon and seats and interior surfaces from the Sahara.