Jeep always builds a few cool concept vehicles to bring to the annual Easter Jeep Safari held in Moab, Utah. The concepts range from pie-in-the-sky ideas that have no chance of production to virtual test vehicles for new parts and accessories that will be available at your local Jeep dealer in the coming months. As the Easter Jeep Safari brings Jeep’s most loyal customers together for a week of off-road adventures on some of the best trails in the country, it gives Jeep an excellent venue to solicit feedback on new ideas.
This year’s biggest announcement is the creation of an off-road division of Mopar, Chrysler’s in-house tuning division. With more than 1,000 Mopar accessories and performance parts for Jeep vehicles already on sale, we can hardly imagine how awesome the parts catalogue will be once there’s an entire division focused on off-road goodies. Mopar is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and in the words of Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of the division, the goal is “tapping into a growing trend among extreme Jeep enthusiasts who want even more power and capability on the trail.” The first products the new division will offer are Pro 60 portal axles and a Hemi conversion kit for the Wrangler. These products will be called Jeep Authentic Parts and Accessories and they offer owners a way to customize their Jeeps with the peace of mind that comes from OEM parts.
Jeep Mighty FC ConceptSince the Mighty FC is the most outrageous concept heading to Moab, we’ll start here. The FC began life as a 2012 Wrangler Rubicon that was lengthened. The roof from a JK-8 conversion kit is about the only recognizable part, with pretty much everything else being custom-made for this concept.
Jeep used to sell Forward Control vehicles from 1956 to 1965. They were as functional as they were cool to look at. The FC layout allows for a full-size cargo box without making the vehicle too big to maneuver in tight quarters. Sure, the drive becomes the crumple zone in this layout, but the obvious solution is to run a set of portal axles that allows the driver to sit several feet off the ground. Now you can just run over the Miata in front of you instead of rear-ending it.
Portal axles are essentially a planetary gearset added to the ends of a solid axle. The off-road community has been forced to fabricate its own portal axles for years by adding a Hummer hub/planetary gearset to the ends of a solid axle. Now Mopar will offer brand new purpose-built portal axles for a mere $11,000, or $12,500 with steering. Why bother with these expensive axles? They allow enormous ground clearance without a suspension lift, which should improve ride quality. The Mighty FC rides on a set of King coilovers.
Other cool touches on the FC include a 16,500 pound Warn winch on the front bumper, a bottle opener mounted on the bed just behind the cab, a full-size spare tire mounted inside the bed, and two-piece 17-inch beadlock wheels that keep the 39-inch BFG Krawler T/A tires under the truck. Our only suggestion is to offer an integrated ladder to help the driver get up to the cab.
Jeep J-12 ConceptAlthough the Mighty FC grabs your attention instantly, the J-12 will hold your attention longer because it actually makes sense as a production vehicle. During the build, this truck became known as the "OMT," short for Old Man Truck. That's a fitting name given the regular cab, long-bed configuration of this concept. The J-12 recalls the Jeep Gladiator pickups built from 1962-1971 and features the iconic "rhino" grille. Gladiator pickups were based on the Wagoneer platform, so they were full-size trucks. A Gladiator concept debuted in 2004, but it was more complicated than the J-12 we saw today. The J-12 is as basic as the original Gladiator, which only offered a regular cab.
The J-12 rides on a Dynatrack Dana 44 front axle and Dynatrack Dana 60 rear axle and both differentials are equipped with ARB air lockers. A mild 3-inch Mopar suspension lift kit gives clearance for the 36-inch tires, which look relatively modest next to the FC's 39-inch rubber. The 16-inch steel wheels really compliment the other throwback touches on the truck. Our favorite detail is the vintage tread pattern on the narrow tires. The only way to make these tires more authentic would be to convert them to bias-ply.
A Wrangler Unlimited with JK-8 conversion kit was stretched 18" to make the J-12, which allows for a 6' cargo bed and a full-size spare mounted under the bed. Inside the cab, there's a split bench seat and a few simple details like a fishing pole rack on the rear window and compass on the shifter. This truck is equipped almost exactly the way your Grandfather would have outfitted his Gladiator for hunting and fishing -- functional, not flashy.