It's that time of year again: every Easter, Jeep and Mopar, FCA's parts and performance division, roll out a group of concept vehicles to show off Jeep's more extreme capabilities and customizability. And seven Jeep concepts have been kicking up a sandstorm and scaling rocky (and beautifully scenic) terrain the last few weeks at the 52nd Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, UT.
Speaking of sandstorms, that's one of the concepts — the Jeep Sandstorm is the most pickup-like of the bunch, possibly a hint at the Wrangler pickup Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has promised is on the way. The Sandstorm is unique in this crop of one-off Jeeps in that it's the most powerful, with a HEMI 6.4L V8 engine straight from the Mopar performance catalog, and all those horses reach the wheels via Jeep's advanced 6-speed manual gearbox (see below).
Among the other vehicles are a tricked-out 1965 Wagoneer called the Roadtrip and, on a related note, a Jeepster concept meant to evoke styling cues of the original 1966 Jeepster. Others like the Nacho Jeep are intended more as "rolling catalogues" for Jeep Performance Parts and provide a kind of how-to guide for off-roaders and customizers to modify their vehicles (it turns out that's pretty much every Wrangler buyer, notably).
"Every year, we look forward to introducing new concept vehicles and ideas to our enthusiasts," said Mike Manley, head of Jeep brand, speaking of this latest Easter Safari troupe. "The Moab Easter Jeep Safari presents a unique and perfect opportunity to collect valuable insight from our most loyal customers."
Mopar's Jeep Performance Parts lineup, featured heavily on this year's prototypes, allows Jeep owners to enhance their stock vehicles — all of which already have some off-road capability. There are more than 200 parts available now for the 2018 Wrangler. Scroll through the slideshow images to see many of those parts in action and learn more about these seven Jeep concepts.
You can also skip to specific prototypes (see photo) with the links below:
Jeepster (fourth from left in rear row in photo above): Based on a Wrangler Rubicon, the Jeepster concept is designed to evoke "the color palette and speedy styling" of the original 1966 Jeepster.
Sandstorm (front and center): The Sandstorm concept Jeep is essentially a short pickup, with the swing gate at the back removed and rear doors "chopped" to give it that look. We're betting this thing can move: under the Sandstorm's vented carbon fiber hood is a HEMI 6.4L V8 engine.
J-Wagon (second from left in rear row): This concept starts out with a 2018 Wrangler Sahara and wears a special "Warm Neutral Grey" finish with "Brass Monkey" accents. The J-Wagon features a Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) hood with a cutout kit to accommodate an intake snorkel.
Wagoneer Roadtrip (far left in rear row): Often among the Easter Jeep Safari concept vehicles is a classic redone. This year, it's the Jeep Wagoneer Roadtrip, which starts with an original 1965 Wagoneer, using its steel body and updating the chassis and drivetrain.
Nacho Jeep (second from right in rear row): The Nacho Jeep is designed essentially as a blueprint that off-roaders can follow to create a custom trail vehicle. The concept's "brawny" hood with black graphic accommodates a cold-air intake for the 2.0L 4-cyl. turbo engine.
4SPEED (far right in rear row): The Jeep 4SPEED concept showcases "extensive weight savings" and the Wrangler's new 2.0L 4-cyl. turbo engine. All its lightweighting actually gives it a lift: the 4SPEED sits 2 in. higher than a stock Wrangler.
B-Ute (third from left in rear row): The Jeep B-Ute is based on the current Renegade. The concept's exterior features special front and rear treatments and upper grille area, a hood with heat extractors and wider flares, and it's powered by a 2.4L Tigershark engine.
[Author's note: So, ah, Jeep? Now that the Easter Safari has wrapped up, these concept vehicles are probably just sitting around, huh. You wouldn't want to loan us one of them — how about that Sandstorm — for an extended review and impressions, would you? Like pretty please?]