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Each year, ahead of the carmaker’s annual off-road event in Utah, Jeep gives its designers and engineers the chance to play by incorporating new or throwback ideas into a series of concept vehicles.

 

This year’s batch, unveiled Thursday at Fiat Chrysler’s headquarters and tech center in Auburn Hills, provided plenty of the old and new.

Fans of hot-rod “gasser”-era vehicles, will find plenty to like in a Jeep Quicksand concept. Eight injector stacks rise through the hood from a Mopar 392 Crate Hemi engine, and downturned open headers along the sides create a dragster look. A dragster’s moon tank up front hides a Warn winch, and a recovery rope at the rear replaces the drag-strip parachute. The Wrangler-based model is equipped with 32-inch mud terrain tires in front and 37-inch tires in the back, and coilover shocks that make it off-road ready.

The Quicksand was just one of seven vehicles in display Thursday before Jeep officials take their toys to Moab, Utah’s off-road environment April 8-16.The concept vehicles are not made for production, but elements often wind up in the brand’s mainstream designs.

“It lets our designers go wild and get creative,” said Mark Allen, head of design for Jeep.

“Creative” describes how designers went about giving passengers in a concept Jeep Wrangler Safari better views. For starters, the doors and roof are translucent — a means of “bringing the outdoors in” according to Jeep officials. Dubbed “windoors,” the see-through panels are made of lightweight aluminum and vinyl.

Like the Quicksand, the Safari concept is outfitted with off-roading in mind. It comes with front and rear Dana 4x4 axles, with selectable differential lockers. A shortened body length makes it more nimble on trails. The muscle comes from a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and automatic five-speed.

“It’s truly a labor love for the Jeep team to develop exciting, capable concept vehicles each year for Moab and the Easter Jeep Safari,” said Mike Manley, the head of Jeep Brand for FCA Global, in a press release. “We look forward to the reaction and feedback from enthusiasts and our most loyal customers as these new Jeep concepts are put through their paces on the trails in Moab.”

Other concepts unveiled Thursday included:

Jeep Grand One: A celebration of the Grand Cherokee’s 25th anniversary based on the 1993 ZJ model, the Grand One features18-inch lace-style wheels, high-clearance fender flares and wood-grain body treatments. The interior utilizes materials inspired by the 1990s, including an “old-school car phone. Under the hood, the Grand One has a 5.2-liter V-8 and four-speed automatic.

Jeep Trailpass: Designed for extreme off-road adventure, the Trailpass is a riff on the Compass Trailhawk. It includes a 1.5-inch lift package, 18-inch wheels and a roof basket. The inside features Katzkin leather and bezel accents, while the power comes from a 2.4-liter Tigershark engine.

Jeep Switchback: The Switchback is loaded with performance parts that include front and rear Dana 4x4 axles, a four-inch lift with remote reservoir Fox shocks, heavy-duty cast differential covers and axle-back exhaust. The trail lighting package includes a concept LED windshield light bar, LED off-road A-pillar lamps and LED headlights and fog lamps.

JLynch@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2034

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