The new DS3, customise every feature to suit your style
Every year Jeep enthusiasts gather over Easter at Moab in the Utah desert for a solid week of hard-core off-roading on some of the most challenging terrain in the United States.
This has been going on for almost 50 years, and each year since 2002 the guys from the factory have pitched up with something unexpected - sometimes it's a concept, sometimes a pre-production model looking for feedback from a group of the most knowledgeable off-roaders in America.
For this year's Easter Jeep Safari, however, they've created not one but six custom Jeeps, using mostly components from Mopar's new Jeep Performance Parts catalogue - some of them not even approved for production yet - to showcase just what the average Jeep owner can do with off-the-shelf parts and a bit of imagination.
Some years ago the Mopar guys built an ultra-light Wrangler called the Pork Chop, which went down a treat with the rock-hoppers at Moab.
So this year they've gone down the same trail with the Stitch - and the brief was to build a seriously competent off-roader with a kerb weight of less than 1360kg.
They started by removing the audio system and all the heating and air conditioning components. The front seats come from the new Viper - there are no rear seats - sections of the body have been cut out, the doors have been removed, and the bonnet is a hand-made copy in carbon-fibre of the one on the Wrangler 10th Anniversary Rubicon.
LIGHTER AND STRONGER
The frame and axles have been modified to remove weight, the standard roll cage has been replaced with one made of chrome-moly steel (lighter AND stronger) and the lower suspension control arms, floor pan and GenRight fuel tank are made of aluminium.
Off-road hardware consists of a Mopar cold-air intake and exhaust kit, Mickey Thompson 35” off-road tires on lightweight 17” aluminium rims, special DynaTrac Pro Rock 44 axles with 4.88 gears and ARB front and rear lockers, King shocks with pneumatic bump stops and Tom Woods drive shafts.
Special design details include a windshield that has been chopped 50mm, a clear yellow vinyl soft top, black leather SRT Viper seats and centre console with a yellow instrument panel and seat backs, and Truck-Light LED headlights.
The black body panels are wrapped in a special, see-through silver architectural fabric that hides the cut panels at some angles but makes them visible from others.
WRANGLER MOPAR RECON
This Wrangler carries a little extra firepower in the shape of a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 crate engine from Mopar.
(A 'crate' engine, Cyril, is a high-performance engine from a major American manufacturer that is not available as standard issue in any model. They all offer them, but you have to order the engine separately, in a wooden box, hence the term.)
This 347kW big gun is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and Dana 60 front and rear axles with 4.10 gearing, mounted on a prototype 115mm long-arm lift kit. The Recon rolls on prototype Jeep Performance Parts forged eight-bolt beadlock wheels with 39” off-road tires.
Mopar catalogue aftermarket mods include front and rear half-door and window kits, front and rear off-road modified “Stinger” bumpers, a Warn winch, high-clearance flat fenders, rock rails, a Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary bonnet, prototype LED headlights, a canvas soft top, swing-away spare wheel carrier and body-colour rear corner guards, tail-light guards and a locking fuel-cap.
Inside they've added Mopar slush mats, black door-sill guards, a locking below-floor storage box, side sun visors, grab handles, a trailside winch kit and a special seat made from Navy blankets and Navy camouflage material.
WRANGLER SAND TROOPER II
After the Sand Trooper made its debut at SEMA in 2012, Mopar raised the bar to create the Sand Trooper II, all set to take on Moab. Its 5.7-litre Hemi V8 delivers 277kW and 544Nm via a five-speed automatic transmission to Mopar eight-bolt front and rear portal axles for added ground clearance, running on prototype Jeep Performance Parts prototype forged beadlock rims and 40” off-road tyres.
Exterior mods include a satin black grille, bonnet lock, front and rear half-door and window kits, front and rear off-road 'Shorty' modified bumpers, a Warn winch, flat fenders, rock rails, a vented bonnet, LED off-road lights and headlights, a Rubicon 10th Anniversary swing-away rear spare-wheel carrier, a towbar mounting, black tail-light guards and a locking fuel-cap
Inside you'll find a reversing camera and display, Mopar slush mats, black door-sill guards, lockable under-seat and centre-console storage, a lockable below-floor storage box, trunk storage box, side sun visors, grab handles, a Trailside winch kit and leather seats.
The Jeep Wrangler Flattop is a contradiction in terms, its refined body and luxury interior completely at odds with its phenomenal off-road capability.
Under the fancy warpaint there's a Mopar cold-air intake and exhaust kit, DynaTrac Pro Rock 44 front and Dana 60 rear axles with ARB air lockers, TeraFlex sway bars and Full-Traction control arms, running on King shocks with pneumatic bump stops, five-spoked alloy rims and 37” Mickey Thompson off-road rubber.
The body is finished in metallic sandstone with copper and brown accents, topped by a specially-made one-piece, windowless hard top.
Top and windshield have been chopped 50mm and the B pillar removed to create a full-length side opening.
The door and bonnet hinges, tow hooks, grille slats and headlamp surrounds are finished in copper, and the bumpers, side rails, side mirrors and hood decal are dark brown.
The bumpers are special parts from the Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary model, as is the bonnet, while special high-line wheel-arch flares, Truck-Light LED headlights, LED tail lights and side markers, a massive Warn Zeon winch and TeraFlex spare tire carrier round off the exterior.
The interior features dark saddle-leather seating, copper accents on the steering-wheel spokes, vent rings and passenger grab handle, and Mopar slush mats.
While not as extreme as the Stitch, the bright red, two-door Slim offers seriously enhanced off-road capability in a Wrangler that's significantly lighter than when it came off the showroom floor, but still has full doors and a hard top.
It starts with a Mopar cold-air intake on the 3.6-litre V6 and 3:73 anti-spin axles, mounted on prototype Mopar 50mm lift kits and rolling on prototype 17” Jeep Performance Parts forged beadlock rims with body-colour trim rings.
The special 10th Anniversary Rubicon front and rear bumpers are actually the lightest in the Mopar catalogue, so they were an automatic choice for the Slim, together with lightweight rock rails, a black grille and hood badge, LED headlights, a lockable fuel cap and Rubicon tyres.
The black interior has leather seats and a CB radio, as well as Mopar all-weather slush mats and a hard-top headliner.
GRAND CHEROKEE TRAILHAWK CONCEPT
This, say the Mopar guys, is the most extreme Grand Cherokee they've ever built. Powered by the new EcoDiesel V6 and finished in a vibrant, non-metallic orange, it runs on 35” Mickey Thompson off-road tyres wrapped round Wrangler Rubicon 17” aluminium rims, in enlarged openings with special wheel-arch flares, custom front and rear skid plates, dual rear tow-hooks and modified Mopar rock rails.
From the SRT catalogue come a Grand Cherokee SRT bonnet, SRT front and rear fascias modified for extra ground clearance, a black grille, a matte black roof and one-off, custom roof rails.
The inside is standard Grand Cherokee, with the addition of a Mopar rear cargo liner and slush mats.