Auburn Hills, Michigan — Though all of the seven concepts that Jeep will take to this year’s Moab Easter Safari are cool, the neon-green Trailcat is perhaps the most extreme. As the name implies, it’s a Jeep Wrangler with Dodge’s wild 707-hp Hellcat engine under the hood. Jeep designers had seen aftermarket companies try to build Hellcat-powered Wranglers at the SEMA show, but figured it was a project best tackled in-house.
“This is one of those things that only we can do,” says Mopar design chief Joe Dehner. “A lot of fabrication went into this.”
The 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine sits beneath a Wrangler Rubicon hood that has extra venting installed for cooling. A six-speed manual transmission and Dana 60 axles direct power to the 39.5-inch off-road tires. The interior is “all business,” with Corbeau bucket seats with harnesses. But this concept involved more than just an engine swap, as the Wrangler has also had its wheelbase stretched by a foot, its windshield chopped, and special adjustable suspension with a lift installed.
Best of all? The Trailcat is fully functional. It runs and drives, and the engine is integrated quite tidily into the engine bay.
So far, Jeep engineers haven’t taken the Trailcat any farther off-road than traversing some grass outside Chrysler’s technical center, but look for the Trailcat to make an appearance in Moab. Sadly, there are no indications it will ever reach production, even though we know Jeep will soon launch a Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee.
The idea behind developing the Shortcut concept was simple, says Jeep design chief Mark Allen: “How close can we get to a [1954-1983 Jeep] CJ5 ideal with a current JK?” The result is the Shortcut, a fun and funky Jeep we’d love to take to the beach, to the ice cream store, or really anywhere this summer.
Though the Jeep’s wheelbase is unchanged, the body has been shortened front and rear — by a whopping 26 inches overall — necessitating a new grille, hood, fenders, and custom chrome bumpers. With the wheels pushed right out to the edges of the bodywork, Allen jokes that the Shortcut’s approach and departure angles are, “Terrific.”
Other cool touches include a retro “swingset”-style roll bar, a cooler and picnic set in the cargo area where the back seat used to be, and low bucket seats with red plaid upholstery.
Jeep FC 150
Think of the FC 150 as the ultimate resto-mod. The outside is a 1960 Jeep Forward Control that was found in Colorado with a worn-out chassis but so-so bodywork. The Jeep team scrounged up a TJ-generation 2005 Jeep Wrangler chassis the company had in storage (it had only about 30 miles on its 4.0-liter inline-six), and mated it to the underside of the old-school (and unrestored) body.
“It has power steering, power brakes, fuel injection, things it never had,” says Allen, who deliberately decided not to restore the bodywork because, “I like all the scars and dents on it.”
In the bed, there’s a cooler hidden inside what looks like a hay bale. The interior has retro cues like a necker knob on the steering wheel and duck-hunting graphics on the headliner.
Here’s another concept we’d love to see put into production. Take a Jeep Renegade, chop off the rear bodywork, stretch the wheelbase six inches, and build a five-foot pickup truck bed. There’s a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine and nine-speed automatic transmission underhood, plus a whole host of Mopar suspension upgrades, including a two-inch lift, and the steel rear bumper off the Jeep Wrangler 75th Anniversary Edition.
“The attraction of the diesel for us was the off-road torque,” says Allen.
He admits the team isn’t quite sure how the Comanche will cope off-road in Moab, but he notes that the company is always prepared to make fixes on the fly: “We’re good at modifying. We bring a hammer with us.”
Jeep Renegade Commander
Think the Renegade can’t go off road, even in Trailhawk trim? The Jeep Renegade Commander wants to prove otherwise. It gets a two-inch lift, 17-inch Wrangler Rubicon wheels with 29.5-inch BF Goodrich T/A KO2 tires, rock rails, skid plates, and additional lights. The car’s anti-roll bars have also been removed for better articulation. On the hood is a decal with a topographic map of one of the trails that the Jeep Easter Safari will tackle at Moab.
“We’re just mostly curious about how this vehicle works” at Moab, says Allen. “We’ve put it in some off-roading situations, but we want to really push it.”
Jeep Crew Chief 715
Jeep has never been shy about touting its military roots, and the Crew Chief 715 is no exception. Built as an homage to the Kaiser M715 military vehicle, it’s the first time Jeep has built a four-door Wrangler pickup concept. That required stretching the Jeep’s wheelbase significantly. And to go along with the rugged look and new design, Jeep threw in just a few Mopar suspension upgrades.
“We called up our friends at Mopar and we got everything,” says Allen. “If there’s something we missed in here, I don’t know what it is.”
Add-ons include a new intake and exhaust for the 3.6-liter V-6 engine, an on-board air system for inflating tires on the trail, 40-inch military tires wrapped around 20-inch beadlock wheels, and tough steel front and rear bumpers. A row of toggle switches sits atop the dashboard, with a giant nautical compass sticking out of the center stack for an appropriately analog feel.
Finally, the Jeep Trailstorm is perhaps the most relevant concept for Jeep owners because, says, Dehener, “You could actually go out and build this now.” Between the Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts catalogs, “Everything is pretty much available.” Aside from the digital-camo wrap job, that is.
Upgrades on the Trailstorm include 17-inch wheels with 37-inch off-road tires, a two-inch lift kit with Fox shocks, a Jeep Performance Parts winch, Dana 44 axles, LED head- and foglights, a vented hood, upgraded brakes, steel Rubicon bumpers, and Katzkin seat covers.