Easter is a time of long-standing tradition and for Jeep, that means the annual trek to Moab, Utah, for the Easter Jeep Safari that kicks off the warm weather season of Jeep Jamborees. And, as has become tradition, the company is bringing along some concepts to demonstrate what Jeep and Mopar customizing can do for the line of iconic off-roaders.
Among the seven that will be going on safari are a Jeep Cherokee, Renegade and Wrangler that are basically just doable and affordable tricked up versions of their showroom counterparts, a couple tributes to Jeeps from the past, and a couple rough terrain conversions that are meant to save you or keep you comfortable far from the beaten path.
Perhaps the most visually appealing to those of us in and around mid-life is the Chief — a tribute to the original Cherokee, the sporty two-door version of the Wagoneer (the original version of the Jeep for the street) introduced in 1973.
Based on Wrangler, the Chief hints at the surfer-dude lifestyle with its Ocean Blue paint job and Hawaiian flower seat upholstery. Throwbacks include a modified razor grille, chrome front and rear bumpers, slotted wheels and Tiki style manual transmission shifter. Modern cues include halogen headlamps and an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen multifunction driver control centre. The body sides are removable for cargo carrying options (surf board are big, bulky items) and to further promote the carefree lifestyle.
Jeep Staff Car
Also based on Wrangler, the Staff Car is a throwback to the original Jeep (the Willys version that performed admirably in World War 2). In keeping with the theme, the Staff Car is minimalist in its presentation — basic steel wheels, practically no fender flaring, stretched canvas roof (without a liner), rear mounted full size spare tire, front fender mounted gasoline can and low-back bench seating. The car is completely painted in Sandstorm plain, with matching interior appointments. A modern take on the old artillery box is actually a cooler that can hold refreshments for everybody in camp.
Jeep Wrangler Red Rock Responder
A different take on the Wrangler, the Red Rock Responder is a wilderness emergency support vehicle meant to help in the harshest of terrain. Spare parts and tools are kept in one of the many built in compartments, such as the side cargo boxes that hold a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, air compressor and a case of water, among others.. Already raised with Jeep Performance suspension components, the emergency responder sits on 37 inch wheels for an even more authoritative figure that can travel over just about any obstacle standing between it and the people it is meant to help.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overlander
The Red Rock Responder would most likely be called upon to help owners of the Grand Cherokee Overlander who may encounter an emergency when they’re far removed from serviceable roads. This Jeep is designed for people who want to get away from it all on a regular basis and travel to extremely remote locations in their vehicle and then sleep in it (or on it, in this case). Custom Jeep Performance parts include tow hooks, integrated front winch and larger wheel flares to house the 18-inch milled wheels shod with BF Goodrich all terrain T/A tires. The roof mounted easily deployable hard shell tent sleeps two.
The remaining three vehicles would be hard pressed to be noticed as more than just custom painted Jeeps, but there’s more to them than just a fancy paint job with a large Jeep Performance Parts logo (to leave no doubt how Jeep owners can customize their rides).
Perhaps the most interesting of the three is the Desert Hawk treatment for the newest Jeep, the compact Renegade. Jeep Renegade Desert Hawk, simply because it shows that any Jeep (even those some people don’t consider Jeeps) can be easily customizable inside and out. Off road body protection in front and under the vehicle is the biggest thing the littlest Jeep has going.
The Wrangler Safari is right at home on the Savannah, with a look reminiscent of utilitarian junket Jeeps and room for extra gear (cameras, camping gear, high-powered rifles, etc.). Auxiliary fuel cans are strapped to the front fenders and the 2.8-litre engine runs on diesel so it can handle whatever suspect fuel is available out in the high-country.
The Cherokee Canyon Trail concept is basically a special edition of the vehicle that won Four Wheeler Magazine’s “2015 Four Wheeler of the Year.” High quality exterior paint and interior appointments provide comfort and style, while items such as all-weather floor mats and raised suspension allow owners to get out and experience all the functionality the off-roader has to offer.
“We go to this legendary event each year to showcase our latest Jeep production vehicles, as well as a variety of new ideas in our concept vehicles,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand. “In doing so, we receive a tremendous amount of valuable feedback, while interacting with our customers in the Jeep brand’s natural environment.”
Held March 28 to April 5 in Moab, Utah, the 49th version of the annual Easter Jeep Safari is expected to again draw thousands of die-hard off-road enthusiasts enjoying their Jeeps in some of the country’s most rugged environments.