Las Vegas, Oct 29, 2007 - Chrysler will debut eight ultra-customized Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show, the annual showcase of technology, trends and products representing the $36.7 billion automotive parts and accessories industry. The SEMA show will be held Oct. 30 – Nov. 2, 2007 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Chrysler’s ‘tricked, tuned and customized’ Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles were conceived and designed for SEMA by the Mopar Underground design team, a group of in-house automotive enthusiasts who donate their time to the SEMA project vehicles.
‘Designed for Customization’ Philosophy Drives the Mopar Underground Design Team
A contemporary perspective on the design principle, ‘form follows function,’ might state that the ‘form must also be flexible to allow for adaptation.’ For the auto industry, that means producing vehicles for consumers that not only allow for customization but strongly encourage it.
Case in point, the 2007 Jeep Wrangler was named one of the most accessory-friendly vehicles by SEMA members. According to a Foresight Research report conducted last year [commissioned by SEMA's Research and Information Center], more than 1,700 full-size truck owners revealed that 50 percent had spent or planned to spend $500 or more on accessories – with a high of 63 percent for Dodge Ram owners (most likely to accessorize). And 20 percent of that group said they bought their trucks at a particular dealership because of the availability of accessories.
Overseen by Ralph Gilles, Vice President of Jeep/Truck & CFM Design, Chrysler LLC, the Mopar Underground design team has been putting that contemporary perspective on the design principle to action by customizing production vehicles. Since its creation in 2002, the Mopar Underground design team has created vehicle concepts meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization as well as new vehicle concepts. In fact, the first-generation SRT4 was born from this team’s style initiative.
“Our diverse team which changes frequently has been developing SEMA concepts for more than five years. It’s the usual ‘enthusiast’ suspects from our union shops [plastic, paint, metal and wood], Product Design Office, SRT and Mopar Performance Parts and engineering,” said Gilles.
“Every year, we push the boundaries of conventional thinking – customizing with no limits to creative expression and freedom, just the power to imagine. We want to build customized concept vehicles for SEMA that flex the potential in our platforms, show that Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles are indeed designed for customization and keep the Mopar spirit and passion alive,” said Gilles.
After the SEMA show, the customized Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge SEMA vehicles will be displayed at events throughout 2008 including Easter Jeep Safari, the Miami Auto Show and more.
Jeep Wrangler JT (Read more about the JT in our review!)
Built from the military version of the all new Jeep Wrangler, the Jeep Wrangler JT showcases just how flexible this new platform can be. Revealed at the 2007 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab [Utah], it dominated the steep climbs and descents on the slopes of the Hell’s Revenge trail. Its 4x4 capability was established as it negotiated the slick hot tubs and waterfalls – at times, almost completely vertical to the ground.
Beginning with the new 116-in. wheelbase platform for the Wrangler Unlimited, the design team managed to create a very nimble, trail-savvy Jeep with a 5-ft. pickup bed and an easy-to-handle removable hardtop.
Off-road enhancements include:
- 3-in. suspension lift provided by Superlift
- 35-in. BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires
- Rear bumper and tire carrier from Mopar
- Front bumper from Mopar
- Warn 9500ti winch
The Jeep Wrangler Ultimate with 392 HEMI® from Mopar
The name says it all.
The Jeep Wrangler Ultimate with 392 HEMI from Mopar is a concept vehicle that answers the question “how far can you go with the new Jeep Wrangler?” Beginning with the all-new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon®, the design team set out to create the best of the best – combining high style and materials with the best off-road machine ever offered by Jeep.
The suspension is enhanced with a 3-in. lift to clear the massive 35-in. BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tires mounted on custom, polished Alcoa Forged 18-in. wheels. The exterior is chromed out courtesy of Mopar:
- fuel filler door
- taillamp guards
- tubular side steps
- exterior mirrors
- tow hooks
- door handles
- hood hinges
- fascia overlays
To complete the look, the exterior is coated in a wildly experimental ‘Liquid Charcoal Pearl Coat’ paint.
The Wrangler Ultimate’s real story is its interior. Taking cues from rugged adventure sports bags and accessories, the team created a high style and detailed interior compartment that is as tough and beautiful as the exterior. Seating surfaces are clad in durable orange mesh fabric and dark slate gray Nappa/Province leather – bound with a heavy black-leather baseball stitch. Instrument panel details are treated to a stunning Argent Pearl/Satin Silver paint combination, reinforcing the machine character for which Jeep is known. The interior is also home to the exclusive MyGIG™ Multimedia Infotainment System. There are also DVD screens for passengers in the front and rear.
To provide authentic performance on the trail, the team also dropped in a 392 HEMI crate motor.
Jeep Wrangler All-access
The interior of the Jeep Wrangler All-access has been upgraded with premium materials and paint. To give it “trail and off-road” credibility, the designers vamped it up with Mopar performance parts including Rubicon Express 4-in. suspension lift, front and rear bumper with tire carrier, rock rails, cold air intake and Warn 9500ti winch. American Expedition Vehicles supplied its new Pintler sheels.
Painted “Surf Blue,” the Wrangler All-access also features 35-in. BFG Mud Terrain tires. In 2008, the Wrangler All-access will be seen at Easter Jeep Safari [Moab, Utah] and Camp Jeep®.
Dodge Ram BFT
“Built for towing,” the Dodge Ram BFT is also one “big fast truck.” Designed to be the “ultimate” workhorse, the vehicle will appeal to the hardcore truck buyer. And there’s one thing the heavy-duty trucker can never get enough of: a bigger box.
The design team placed a standard cab on a 160-in. Dodge Ram Heavy Duty wheelbase frame so the 9.4-ft chopper fits snuggly in the 10-ft. box. The team also accommodated the dually setup with a 6-in. suspension lift kit from Superlift and Alcoa’s 22.5-in. 10-lug semi wheels. The BFT also features full-length polished bed and step rails.
The Ram BFT has a Banks-enhanced 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine that is mated to an automatic transmission.
In the end, the Ram BFT provides “maximum” hauling and towing power. And isn’t dependability, durability and capability what Ram life is all about?
Dodge Dakota MX Warrior
The Dodge Dakota MX Warrior is a design exercise intended for the younger action-sports crowd. This authentic motocross-themed concept is a cooperative effort with Scott Waraniak. Waraniak is a design student at College for Creative Studies in Detroit and AMA District 14 motocross racer #936 who races for KTM North America and Seattle-based Jones Soda.
Motocross is an extreme sport run on closed-course, natural-terrain dirt tracks. Grabbing the holeshot and maneuvering through the ruts, berms, whoops, doubles, 90-foot jumps and 180-degree tight turns demands lightning-fast reflexes, physical conditioning, practice, concentration and speed. Forty racers compete in two 20-minute motos – mixing flying dirt and rocks with intimidation, adrenaline and horsepower. The outdoor motocross season runs from April to September, while the indoor supercross season runs from January through April. The sport continues to grow in popularity particularly with Gen X and Gen Y action-sport athletes in the United States, Europe and Japan.
With his likeness and signature on limited-edition bottles of Jones Soda, Waraniak [a West Bloomfield, Mich.-resident] provided his race-prepped bike for the project. He’ll use the 2008 KTM 450 SX-F in 2008 motocross season competition. He designed the graphics for both the bike and the Dodge Dakota MX Warrior.
The design team let Waraniak loose to design his “splatter” theme. The bold O21orange and battleship gray vinyl wrap is provided by Image Quest Graphics of Wixom, Mich. The Dakota/KTM 450 SX-F graphics integrate the podium performance of Dodge, Mopar and KTM Motorsports with Waraniak’s sponsors and the motocross industry’s leading icons and lifestyle companies:
- KTM North America of Amherst, Ohio
- Troy Lee Designs of Corona, Calif.
- FMF Racing of Rancho Dominguez, Calif.
- Alpinestars of Torrance, Calif.
- Spy Optics of Carlsbad, Calif.
- EVS Sports of Janesville, Wis.
- Cycra of Hebron, Ohio
- VP Racing Fuels of Wildomar, Calif.
- Maxima Racing Oils of Santee, Calif.
- Lake Cycle of Grand Haven, Mich.
- JP Speed of Holly, Mich.
- KTM Hard Equipment of Amherst, Ohio
- Michelin of Greenville, S.C.
- Powersport Grafx of North Wilkesboro, N.C.
- Xlox Systems of Calgary, Alberta
- SuperSports of Waterford, Mich.
- Skyjacker of Suspensions, West Monroe, La.
- Iniziale Designs of Roseville, Mich.
- KICKER® Audio of Stillwater, Okla.
- Jones Soda of Seattle, Wash.
To give the Dodge Dakota MX Warrior a proper stance and prove it can venture off-road, the suspension is raised four inches. It’s fitted with 20-in. chrome wheels from Mopar wrapped in 31-in. tires. TRX-4 fender flares cover the meats to keep the “splash” graphics fairly clean. To protect the front and rear, the Chrysler metal shop fabricated custom steel bumpers and an integrated warn winch mounted on the front bumper. There are also custom steel rock rails. The taillamps and bed extender were provided by Mopar. The steering wheel was provided by Grant Products. The Surf Blue paint with dark neutral metallic accents is courtesy of the Chrysler paint shop.
Air is fed to the 4.7-liter Magnum® V-8 engine through the custom hood with one-off intake scoops fabricated by the Chrysler plastic shop.
When all is said and done, you’ll never see this Dodge Dakota MX Warrior “DNF.”