Summer showed up early this year. And though we’ve already lost our spring weather, we still have a few things to do before we’re ready for what I call The Months of Sunburned Agony. There are gardens to plant, New Years’ exercise resolutions to finally start keeping, and the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab to attend dream about attending. It’s happening as I type this, and will last until April 8th, so if you’re able to do more than dream about going, you can expect to see some very cool creations.
If you’re clueless as to what I’m on about, here’s a quick primer. For time immemorial,* Jeep lovers have gathered at Moab, Utah to try their four-wheel crawling hand on Moab’s brutal and slippery solid rock trails. The suits at Chrysler took note and decided to host an annual event there, featuring a meetup and a trail run, and the rest is history. For years Jeep have been using the platform to show off their new concepts, like the breathtaking Nukizer; and aftermarket manufacturers flock there, too, with their shiniest new bits of off-road gear.
Jeep are bringing a new fleet of concepts and tricked out trail machines again this year. They’ll all lift your eyebrows, and a couple will break your heart:
One that probably won’t is the Mopar Accessorized Wrangler. It’s not that it’s not a cool Jeep, but it defines “saturated.” Jeep had the interns or someone bolt on as many Mopar licensed aftermarket parts as they could, and they were able to fit over 250. Even the name is fairly lame. Moving on…
Jeep did even less with their Trailhawk Cherokee, though the name shows huge improvement. They added some off-road tires, some Mopar body armor, and an admittedly fierce paint job. And it appears to be lifted, but Jeep’s mum on that.
Runner up in the Awesome Swap category is the Wrangler Apache, which carries a 470 hp, 6.4 liter Hemi V8 instead of its standard Pentastar 6. You want this. You’ve wanted it for years. And now you can finally have it, because it’s showcasing the Mopar V-8 Conversion Kit, which you can now buy for the W5A580 automatic. And uncharacteristically for Chrysler, they’ll soon offer you one for a five speed manual. What a sleeper.
And the Winner of the Awesome Swap category also wins the Bossest Name Award: the Wrangler Traildozer. Probably called after a concept Autobot from an early scenario in which Chrysler, rather than GM, sponsored the Baytacular Transformers trilogy, the Traildozer is charged with the same Hemi that the Apache got, but it already has a manual – a six speed Getrag. Jeep hired AEV, the masters who brought us the Nukizer, to do the conversion, and they went to town, adding Dana 44 axles, 37” Mickey Thompson Baja Claw radials, and a 3.5 inch lift.
Now, all of this is pretty standard fare for the Easter Safari. These last two are not.
Though the Jeep J-12 concept looks like a more stylish Nukizer, it’s a full-size Jeep pickup, and it makes me pine for an old Comanche. Jeep say it’s based on the JK-8 conversion kit that you can actually buy, but its frame was understandably extended 18
inches, allowing for a six-foot bed. It’s been lifted three inches and sports ARB air locking Dynatrac D44 and D60 axles and Teraflex sway bars. They’ve sculpted the fenders and hood for a Gladiator look (though they would be slain like Gladiators in the arena of an NHTSA pedestrian safety crash test battery), and the cabin lacks carpet for bedliner. The bench seat has even gotten the Jackie Stewart treatment for nostalgia’s sake. I want this.
But the very best, and therefore essentially the last, is the Jeep Mighty FC Concept. It’s a cab-over design, as in Forward Control, and looks, quite literally, like no other modern pickup in the world.
It’s not the first forward control Jeep we’ve ever seen. The original Jeep Forward Control had a palindromic production run from ‘56 to ’65. Its cab sat directly on top of the engine and in front of the axle, leaving plenty of room on the chassis for a massive bed. But then AMC took over and dropped the model, so blame it on Mitt’s dad.
They make it seem so simple, don’t they? The people at Jeep “started with a 2012 Wrangler Rubicon and repositioned the cabin over and ahead of the front axle, lengthened the wheelbase…” It uses the JK-8 kit’s roof and a new front clip to complete the retro-styling. The end result of all this vehicle rearranging is a very cool concept. They dressed it up with a Warn 16.5 winch, 40 inch tires, and a stainless Corsa exhaust.
The Mighty FC leaves us with more than a few questions, namely, “How do I get in?” and “Will it pass a single NHTSA nanny test?” But the biggest question remains: will Jeep build it? Probably not. But we hope they’ll at least consider it, simply because it’s been almost 50 years since they’ve tried anything like it.
What do you think of the FC? Would Jeep build it? Should they?
* Not really immemorial, but it sounds impressive, right?
Images courtesy Chrysler Group LLC.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.