A special Jeep for the ‘skeleton crew’

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

A century before anyone came up with the “extreme sports” tags or created the X Games, folks in Switzerland built the Cresta Run, a narrow and icy track at the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club.

Though first used for what we know recognize as luge sledding, with the sledder reclined on his or her back, it was on the Cresta Run that the sport of skeleton sledding first was practiced.

No, the sport doesn’t involve shooting cadavers down the icy track. Instead, it’s living people sliding head-first on a minimalist “skeleton” sled. After being part of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games, both held at St. Moritz, skeleton sledding became an official Olympic winter event starting in 2002.

And no, you haven’t stumbled into the Sports section of this newspaper. We bring up the Cresta Run because the Garage Italia Customs Style Center has applied its design and vehicle modification skills to a Jeep Renegade Limited, which is something of a successful snow vehicle in its own right.

As you can see in the photograph, the modified Jeep Renegade has been redone in red and yellow pinstripes, the official colors of the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club, for which the Garage Italia Customs-modified Renegade will serve as the official vehicle for 2017.

The exterior was done in three phases, said Garage Italia Customs. First, the car was painted in the yellow hue. Next, the yellow pinstripes were masked off and then the red paint was applied.

Also modified is the Renegade’s interior, which was done with black Primo Fiore leather with Alcantara inserts in gray with red and yellow stripes down the middle of the seat and back cushions. Even the Alcantara inserts are unique, using a special weaving method that makes them look as though they are made of wool.

Not modified was the Jeep’s running gear — a 1.4-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 9-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

We share this vehicle here because it might inspire customization of your own vehicle, from revised seats to a rather exotic exterior color treatment, which could be done with a vinyl wrap rather than the three-step paint process.

We also share it now because a St. Moritz-type experience is possible without traveling to Switzerland. Instead, you can drive your Jeep or other vehicle over to the west side of Michigan to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, which includes a luge track as well as offering ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails.

While the St. Moritz Toboggan Club is a private organization, the Muskegon winter complex is in Muskegon State Park and is open to the public

For information on Garage Italia Customs, see the website. To learn about the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, visit

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at