Moab, Utah - Each year, in the week leading up to the Easter weekend, thousands of off-road enthusiasts head to the small town of Moab in eastern Utah, home of some of the most spectacular and challenging 4x4 trails in the United States, for the Easter Jeep Safari.
And as the host, each year Jeep shows off with wild concepts and prototypes, often crafted using handmade aftermarket parts that may or may not find their way into the next Mopar catalogue, depending on the reaction from the Jeep faithful at Moab.
For 2018 Jeep has created seven concepts, some more radical than others, but all with the emphasis on rock-hopping - and here they are:
The Nacho Jeep is textbook example of catalogue engineering from the Jeep Performance Parts menu, based on a standard Wrangler Rubicon in the unusual Nacho Yellow colour.
It has a Mopar bonnet with the new JPP logo in black and and cold-air scoop to feed the standard two-litre turbopetrol four, a satin black Mopar grille and heavy-duty steel bumpers with a built-in Warn Winch kit.
Magneti Marelli LED spotlights on JPP mounts are bolted to the A pillars and brush guard, and there’s a row of Automotive Lighting LED header lights glued to the inside of the windshield, while a rear off-road scouting light uses four-colour LEDs to communicate trail conditions to the vehicle behind - red for stop, amber for 1-5km/h and green for 5-40km/h, along with a rear floodlight.
The Nacho Wrangler gets a 50mm lift kit, new 63mm diameter aluminium-bodied dampers and 37 inch tyres on 17 inch satin carbon-finished beadlock wheels with gloss black beadlock trim rings - the only custom, non-catalogue components on the car.
But the thicker, wider-than-standard rock rails are straight out of the book, as are 50mm tube doors, grab handles embossed with the iconic Jeep grille logo, tailgate hinge reinforcement and spare tyre carrier, and black-finished fuel door.
The interior is standard, other than black Katzkin leather seats with light grey contrast stitching and the Jeep grille logo embroidered in the seat backs in matching light grey.
This light, quick and nimble concept follows on from the 2011 Pork Chop and the 2013 Stitch, enhancing the off-road capability of the Wrangler by reducing weight rather than adding power.
Thus it has Jeep’s entry level two-litre turbopetrol four pushing all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, with a carbon-fibre bonnet, high-clearance carbon-fibre wheel-arch flares and a carbon fibre rear tub with perforated aluminium panels.
A raked windshield, elongated door openings, an aggressively swept back custom roll-cage and custom-made lightweight rear body panels give it a distinctive profile
Inside, it has a customised instrument panel and re-trimmed front seats, no rear seats and a plastic welding curtain in place of the usual detachable hard top. The rear seats have been removed, the floor has been bedlined and the foot wells have been replaced with perforated aluminium panels.
WheeIbase is standard but the overhangs have been radically trimmed, reducing overall length by 56 centimetres and radically improving its approach and departure angles.
The 4Speed is so much lighter than a showroom Wrangler that it rides 50mm higher on standard suspension, over Dana 44 front and rear axles with a 4.10:1 diff ratio, and 18 inch lightweight monoblock wheels shod with 35 inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tyres.
Also based on a Wrangler Rubicon, this uses specially-modified standard Jeep Performance Parts and a custom sprayjob to channel the 1966 Jeepster.
The original’s two-tone finish is echoed in the red body with white wheel-arch flares, white over red half-doors, windshield raked back 2.5 degrees and white hard-top chopped by 50mm, and replica Jeepster badging.
The catalogue bonnet has the new JPP logo but not the optional cold-air intake or snorkel, while 8000 lumens’ worth of LED off-road lights in 13cm and 18cm applications, are mounted on the A pillars, with LED fog-lights on the Rubicon steel bumper.
A 50mm lift kit and 63mm diameter aluminium body shocks modulate 37 inch BF Goodrich KO2 tyres on 17 inch beadlock rims with body-colour red beadlock trim rings.
The black fuel door, grab handles and all-weather floor mats are from the JPP portfolio, but the tubular roll cage with in-cabin spare wheel bracket were specially made for this car, as were the black Katzkin leather seats with red Jeep grille logos embroidered on the seatbacks, red contrast stitching on the seat bolsters, and red instrument panel inserts.
Having the spare inside the cabin makes place for specially-made storage packs for gear and supplies such as food, water and tools on the tailgate, in a split design to accommodate the rearview camera.
As its name suggests, the Sandstorm concept was inspired by Baja racers, with seriously heavy-duty long travel suspension and humungous power from a 6.4-litre V8 ‘crate engine’ out of the Mopar performance catalogue, mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The front axle has been moved forward 100mm on heavy-duty long arm four-link suspension and track bar, while the rear axle has been moved back 50mm, using a triangulated trailing arm four-link set-up.
The axles themselves are Dynatrac 60s with 5.68:1 diff ratio, 17 inch beadlock wheels and 39.5 inch BF Goodrich Krawler tyres, while custom springs and dampers give the Sandstorm 355mm of travel on the front suspension and a whopping 460mm at the rear.
She’s got the look, courtesy of a vented carbon-fibre bonnet, vented high clearance front and rear wheel-arch flares and a roll cage with a rear-mounted laydown style spare wheel carrier. The exterior handles and tailgate have been removed, and the rear doors chopped for a cleaner look.
More Baja-style touches include high mounted tubular front and rear tube bumpers, modified rock rails, an integrated on-board air compressor, race-style filler cap, KC Carbon series front spotlights and a rear spotlight.
The stripped out (no carpets or plastic trim) interior has leather-trimmed front seats and special low-back racing bucket seats in the rear, a race-style instrument cluster and 18cm off-road GPS, and independent rocker switches for the on-board electronics, air compressor and axle lockers.
The J-Wagon concept is a Wrangler Sahara customised with Jeep Performance Parts to create a city car that can do serious weekend adventuring as well.
Its custom neutral grey paint with warm-tinted glass is complemented by subtle gunmetal-finished accessories, and it has a version of the JPP bonnet with a gunmetal latch and a cutout kit to accommodate the optional snorkel, over a standard Rubicon black grille with body-colour bezel trim and gunmetal foglight bezels.
New 13cm LED lights mounted on JPP deliver extra illumination, and the J-Wagon rolls on 17 inch slot-design wheels that are also finished in gunmetal. The tailgate hinge reinforcement for the spare 35 inch KM3 BF Goodrich and centre high-mount brake light relocation kit are off the shelf but the black rock rails and roof rack were specially made for this car.
The seats are trimmed in camel-coloured Katzkin leather with brown piping and punched-through inserts that mimic the triangulated finish of the rock rails, and the interior metal trim elements are finished in gunmetal to match the wheels and body trim.
The Jeep B-Ute concept was built to show what can be done with a standard 2.4-litre Renegade using Jeep Performance Parts, starting with aftermarket front and rear fascia panels and upper grille, a bonnet with heat extractors, and add-on wheel-arch flares.
Also straight out of the JPP playbook are a 38mm lift kit, roof rack, rock rails, 17 inch rims with 30mm offset and BF Goodrich T/A Baja Champion tyres.
The interior has been pimped out with specially upholstered seats, carbonite-finished shifter, speaker and vent surrounds, gloss black trim inserts, a Molle storage system on the back of the front seats, and Mopar all-weather floor mats.
Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip
Jeep isn’t big on restomods, which makes this updated 1965 Wagoneer something special, particularly when you learn that the original steel body has been modified to fit a boxed and reinforced chassis with a 127mm longer wheelbase, while the wider track requires custom wheel-arch flares over reshaped wheel wells, custom bumpers and integrated rock rails.
Motorvation is provided by a 5.7-litre V8 and four-speed automatic transmission in place of the original 3.78-litre Tornado overhead-cam straight six and three-speed slushbox, while the original running gear gives way Dana 44 front and rear axles with locking hubs, four-link suspension with coilover springs and 17 inch steel wheels wrapped in 33 inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tyres.
The factory glazing has been replaced by bottle green architectural glass all round and a razor grille tidies up the front end. The original front and rear bench seats have been retrimmed in dark red leather, as have the door panels, kick and rear panels, with a wicker headliner to lighten the effect.
Special touches include a one-off cooler, handmade from period luggage, and a toolbox made from the valve cover of the original engine.