Around this time every year, Jeep reveals concept vehicles to showcase at the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab Utah. the EJS is most likely the largest single gathering of Jeep vehicles on the planet, and is certainly a great place for the Chrysler heads to acquire some customer feedback from the core of their customer base; the enthusiasts. This year, like the past few years, there is a nice mix of realistic production potentials, and outrageously awesome pipe-dream concepts. One trend we’ve seen over the last few years is the presence of Wrangler based pickup trucks – this year Jeep built two of them.
Unfortunately, the clear leader in awesomeness, The Jeep Mighty FC, is the least likely to see production. Starting as a 2 door JK Wrangler (yes a TWO door,) the Mighty FC takes its style cues from the Jeep Forward Control of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Just like the original FC, the one off custom cab sits over the front axle, allowing for maximum cargo area and a relatively short vehicle length. The Mighty FC concept has a full 8 foot bed, and is clearly begging for a camper insert for overland duties (it already has a bottle opener mounted on the driver’s side for easy base-camp beer opening!) The port axles, that help give the FC its monstrous ground clearance, will soon be available from Mopar. The pair of ports will run you $23,500 uninstalled (slightly less than the cost of a 2012 two door Wrangler Sport.)
Clearly, as it sits, the FC is far from anything we can expect to see in showrooms this fall. However, with slightly smaller tires, a fuel efficient (diesel?) engine, and customizable cargo box options, this FC could easily follow in the original’s footsteps by being an extremely versatile delivery, rescue, or emergency vehicle. More likely to make it to production, yet still a slim chance at best, is the J12 pickup concept. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, and designed after the beloved Gladiator Truck, this concept is exactly what the enthusiasts have been begging for.
Essentially an extended version of last year’s JK8 concept; the J12 had an additional 18 inches added to its frame to support the 6 foot bed, and under bed mounted spare 36 inch tire. The added weight and over sized tires should be no problem for the added D44 front, and D60 rear axle. The beautifully designed retro front end is a perfect adaptation of the full size Jeeps of the 1960’s, and is hopefully a foresight into the, yet to be revealed, forthcoming Grand Wagoneer.
Having the spare tire mounted under the bed allows for a real truck, downward opening tailgate, unlike the JK8’s Wrangler style side opening rear door. The retro Jeep logo on the tailgate, and large chrome bumpers finish off the truck’s exterior nicely. The interior of the truck is a modified, stripped down, Wrangler cockpit, with a bench seat, and shifter mounted compass. Clearly, a J12 do it yourself kit would be better than nothing at all, but what we really need is a factory built Jeep pickup truck. My problem with these kits is that the ultimate price of the vehicle ends up surpassing its real value. I recently saw a JK8 converted Wrangler Sport at a local dealer with a $47,000 price tag. For $47K I want more than a novelty truck – not that I have $47,000… but you get the idea.
With the Dodge Dakota all but dead; a midsized Jeep pickup truck is the best option Chrysler has – and is the only reason why I still have hope for a seven slot truck, even if it has 12 like this one does. Jeep could easily offer a J12 type, Wrangler platform based pickup, with decent towing and offroad capability, that would give the Tacoma a run for its money. During the press preview on March 27th, Mike Manley (President Jeep Brand) stated that the company uses the Easter Jeep Safari to get customer feedback, and that many of the features of the concept vehicles make it to production, or at least the Mopar catalog. He mentioned, specifically, that the two most popular requests are; a pickup truck, and a diesel powertrain. To Jeep’s credit, the port axles first seen on the “Immortal” concept vehicle will soon be available through Mopar, the JK-8 was released as ado-it-yourself kit, and customers will now be able to order a bolt in 6.4L HEMI for their JKs.
The new HEMI conversion kit will initially be available for the five speed auto this summer, but a six-speed manual conversion has been promised. The Wrangler TrailDozer (Above) has been fitted with the 6.4L Hemi, and a Getrag 238 six-speed manual transmission. Possibly a sign of things to come, and a move away from the current NSG370 six-speed manual offered in the Wrangler. Jeep also revealed a Mopar accessorized JK, the Wrangler Apache Concept, and the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk for the trip to Moab this year.