One thing Americans are good at is catalogue engineering - offering customers a range of aftermarket bolt-on parts so that each owner can mix-and-match to create what amounts to a one-off custom vehicle from standard parts.
For instance, the Harley-Davidson catalogue runs to more than 800 pages.
Chrysler's Mopar performance division doesn't have quite as large a range, but it does list more than a 1000 items just for Jeeps, with more to come, and has recently created a specialised Off-Road department, with its own catalogue for bundu-bashers to drool over.
And to get the wheels rolling (sorry, couldn't resist that) the guys at Mopar have combined parts from the new books with some out-of-the-box thinking to build six very special Jeeps, which will be shown (and demonstrated - these may be concepts but everything works) at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah from March 31-April 8.
GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY
Now in its 46th year, the Safari is one of the biggest gatherings of Jeep enthusiasts in the US, attended by thousands of serious off-roaders who spend a week getting down and dirty on some of the country's most challenging trails - just the place to test outrageous customising concepts and get your most loyal customers thinking about what they could do to their own Jeeps, given the book and a few dollars more…
Mopar boss Pietro Gorlier said: “This year, Mopar is introducing new Pro 60 portal axles, with offset hubs like a Unimog, and a new Hemi conversion kit, which we have showcased in these vehicles”
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
Technically, this is the mildest of the show cars, its off-road extras limited to special five-spoke 18” rims shod with new Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor off-road tyres, and modified Mopar 'rock rails' to protect the lower body from rugged rocky terrain.
Visually, it's another story, however; the grille surround, lower front valance, mirror housings caps and rear light bar are dark grey to match the wheels, while the upper grille mesh, front and rear tow hooks, Jeep logos on the wheel centre caps and bolt holes in the rims are bright red.
The matte-black bonnet (less glare, don't you know) is also outlined in red, with the headlight surrounds in black and the special badging in red and black.
Jeep Wrangler Apache
Jeep fans have been asking for a V8 Wrangler, and making its public debut at Moab will be a 6.4-litre Hemi conversion kit for the Wrangler.
Pushing about 350kW and 640Nm to the rear wheels, it'll be available from mid-year in tandem with a five-speed auto tranny, and later with a six-speed manual.
Other special parts on the Jeep Wrangler Apache are Pro 60 5.13 front and rear axles, a 115mm Stage 3 long-arm lift kit and off-road bead-lock rims, as well as high-clearance flat fenders, rock rails, front and rear half-door kits, a Stinger front bumper, a Warn 9.5ti XP winch, Katzkin leather seats, and a lockable centre console storage box.
Jeep Mighty FC
From 1956 to 1965, Jeep built a forward-control model analogous to the Land Rover 101, keeping overall length at a minimum for maneuverability but with a full-length cargo box for utility.
For Moab 2012, the Jeep guys created a modern version of this classic.
They started with a Wrangler Rubicon, lengthened the wheelbase, moved the cabin over and ahead of the front axle, trimmed it in heavy-duty Katzkin leather and topped it off with the roof from a JK-8 pick-up conversion kit.
Finally, they fitted a custom-built drop-side cargo box more than 2.5 metres long.
All of which rides on a pair of the new portal axles (of course!) and King gas-charged piggyback coil-over damper assemblies with heavy-duty Teraflex control arms and track bars. Traction is handled by massive 40” tires mounted on special 17” Hutchinson rims.
Hanson bumpers, a Warn 16.5 winch and a Corsa stainless steel exhaust system complete the look.
The Jeep J-12 concept is essentially an extended version of the recently introduced JK-8 pickup conversion kit for the Wrangler. The rear of the chassis is extended by 450mm, allowing the spare tire to be relocated under the two-metre long bed floor.
A special bonnet, grille and front bumper set were created as a nod to aficionados of the beloved Jeep Gladiator trucks.
Off-road muscle has been improved with the addition of the new 75mm suspension lift kit and Teraflex sway bars controlling air-locked Dynatrac D-44 and D-60 axles. Traction is handled through classic 36” tyres on 16” steel rims.
The retro feel extends to the cab, with a rubber mat instead of carpeting, and a modern version of the Wagoneer's bench seat, trimmed in white with a period plaid pattern.
This is just a straight Rubicon, fully loaded with Mopar accessories, starting with a 50mm lift kit, Dana 44 front and rear axles with electric lockers, 35” Goodyear Wrangler tyres on Classic five-hole rims, front and rear off-road bumpers, a Warn 9.5ti XP winch, rock rails, Kicker dash 165mmm two-way speakers, all-weather mats.
New for Moab are a lockable centre console storage box, a rear cargo cubby cover, windshield-mounted LED lamps, a new hard-top headliner and a partition that creates secure storage space in the cargo area.
Jeep Wrangler Traildozer
This one was built by American Expedition Vehicles using the Mopar catalogue.
They started by dropping in 6.4-litre Hemi, mated to a Getrag 238 six-speed manual transmission, driving Dana 44 axles with 4:10 gears and electronic locking differentials.
An AEV Dualsport RS 90mm suspension lift kit provides clearance for 37” Mickey Thompson Baja Claw radials mounted on classic five-spoke wheels, with heavy-duty bumpers fore and aft, rear corner guards, a ventilated bonnet, half-door kit and a Warn 9.5 Cti winch.