On Easter morning in Moab, Utah, when the population of that exceedingly-hard-to-get-to town in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth has more than doubled, some people won’t be hunting for Easter eggs, but will be trying to get a good look at one of the vehicles six that Jeep has prepared for real-life, fast-feedback from the assembled at the annual Easter Jeep Safari.
Mike Manley, president and CEO, Jeep Brand, calls it “instant and intuitive feedback.”
The six “Moparized” Jeeps that are going to Moab were done under the direction of Mark Allen, head of Jeep Design. He refers to the Moab event as “our Sturgis,” glossing the annual Harley celebration in South Dakota.
Here’s a look at their work.
Jeep Wrangler Pork Chop
Allen explains that there is a trend for some off-road vehicles to not only crawl rocks, but to travel at high speeds across the desert landscape. And that with all of the gear that some of the vehicles are being laden with nowadays, they’re getting heavy. Go they decided to “chop the pork” in developing this vehicle. They cut more than 850 lb from the 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport they started with. For example, they removed the doors, top, tailgate, bumpers, carpet, and sway bars. They had Hanson Bumpers produce special aluminum bumpers. QMC created a prototype aluminum/carbon fiber hood that is held in place with Drake aluminum hood latches. Dynatrac Axles designed ProRock 44 front and rear axles that feature prototype aluminum differential covers. The axles are located with aluminum control arms from Full Traction.
Jeep Compass Canyon
They wanted to do a non-Trail Rated Jeep, so they started with a 2011 Compass equipped with the Freedom II package that’s “recommended for moderate off-road situations that include steep grades, occasional wheel lift and rock or log climbing.” You can find some of that in Moab. . .on the way to the real trails. They added a 2-1/8-in. lift kit from Rocky Road Suspension, then added 16-in. alloy wheels from a Jeep Liberty (it helps when you work for the company) and surrounded them with Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ 225/75-R16 tries. The front and rear sway bars were removed for more articulation, and front and rear skid bars, sill guards, and longitudinal skid plates were added.
Jeep Cherokee Overland
The Liberty for export markets is called the “Cherokee.” And the Cherokee for export markets, unlike the one for the U.S., can be fitted with a 2.8-liter CRD four-cylinder turbo diesel. Like this one is. Allen says that this vehicle is meant to be an alternative to a Land Rover. Yes, those are supposed to be zebra stripes. Allen and one of his colleagues in “Mopar Underground” design created the stripes. He says it is harder than you might imagine. What isn’t evident in the picture is that this is fitted with a steel roof rack, awning, compact refrigerator, and prototype rock rails from ARB. Yes, awning.
Jeep Wrangler Renegade
Back in 1972, the Jeep Renegade was offered with a V8 engine. In 2011, there’s this: the Jeep Wrangler Renegade with an all-new 475-hp, 6.4-liter HEMI V8 under the Mopar heat-dissipating hood. Allen says that they wanted to go with the classic gold and black body colors of the CJ5 Renegade of the ‘70s, “but not the ‘70s gold and black—there’s more silver in this gold.” Those are 35-in. Mickey Thompson radials. The inside has Katzkin seat trim.
Jeep Wrangler JK-8 Independence
The military gets a pickup version now. And back in the ‘80s there was the Jeep Scrambler CJ-8. And if you have a new four-door Wrangler, you, too, can put together a Jeep like this one. That’s because not only did they build one of these in Auburn Hills, but Mopar has actually created a JK-8 kit including a bed floor, inner/outer body panels, half hard top, and a new bulkhead. The Jeep guys who did this one built it over a weekend.
Jeep Wrangler Blue Crush
There is a race that includes serious rock crawling and high-speed desert racing called “King of the Hammers.” In a story about it that appears on Off-Road.com, Josh Burns writes of this year’s race: “Although not everyone would be in contention for the race win, most racers were simply satisfied to shoot for a top 20 finish. With all that the King of the Hammers race can throw at you, simply finishing is a feat in and of itself.” Hard core. And so this truck. Under the hoop, an all-aluminum Mopar 426-cu. In. HEMI. 540 hp. There’s a 545RFE performance transmission and a gear-drive transfer case. There are a high-speed performance off-road suspension system with internal bypass shocks, front stabilizer bar, and full hydro-steering. A full cage surrounding race seats. 39-in. tires. Probably not what you’d take to the mall.