DETROIT -- A Jeep Wrangler that has been decorated with rust and made to look like a Navy battleship is one of six Jeeps -- all heavily modified by Chrysler Group's Jeep and Mopar units -- that will be put through their paces during the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, which was scheduled to begin Saturday, March 23, and conclude Sunday, March 31.
The Easter Jeep Safari draws thousands of off-road enthusiasts to the Utah desert to test the limits of their vehicles and their abilities as drivers. The event has prompted a yearly engineering exercise within Jeep and Mopar, which create vehicles for the safari to test parts and design concepts.
The Mopar parts and service brand has created a Jeep Performance Parts subgroup to compete for the millions of dollars off-roaders spend each year modifying their vehicles with lift kits, rock rails, bumpers and other aftermarket parts.
Mopar has added more than two dozen engineers in the past several months to expand Jeep parts offerings.
Of the vehicles built for Moab this year, five are based on the Wrangler, and one is based on the Grand Cherokee.
- The Wrangler Mopar Recon has a prototype long-arm lift kit and beadlock wheels and is decorated in a Navy-inspired theme, with a rust-coated name badge. It is powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine.
- The Wrangler Stitch,so named because much of its body is covered in architectural fabric, is an exercise to see how much weight engineers could remove -- 1,100 lbs. -- from a traditional two-door Wrangler.
- The Wrangler Sand Trooper II, a follow-up to last year's Sand Trooper concept, is loaded with the brand's highest-end and heaviest options, including portal axles that retail for more than $20,000 each.
- The Wrangler Flattop combines a top-end interior finish with a heavy-duty off-road package. Engineers installed a custom one-piece windowless hard top and shortened the window 2 inches to keep the roof height roughly equal to that of a stock Wrangler.
- The Wrangler Slim uses beadlock wheels and lighter bumpers to increase off-road performance by lowering weight.
- The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is a diesel-powered off-roader with specially modified wheel wells to allow for 35-inch tires on 17-inch aluminum rims. It is painted blood orange and trimmed in matte black.