In April 2009, the Mopar® Underground design team showcased six customized Jeep® vehicles and Dodge trucks at the 43rd annual Moab Jeep Safari. The Mopar Underground design team has been customizing production vehicles for seven years, and has introduced 14 Jeep concept vehicles to enthusiast crowds at Moab Jeep Safari.
“These vehicles are built with pride and passion for the Jeep brand by a small group of dedicated engineers, designers and fabricators to explore and demonstrate the many facets of off-roading,” said Jeep/truck studio chief designer Mark Allen.
The Mopar Underground design team creates vehicle concepts, which are meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization, as well as new vehicle concepts. The Dodge Neon SRT4 was born from this team’s style initiative.
The Mopar Underground team turned a 2009 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited into a self-contained campsite. To increase cargo capacity for hauling gear, the Jeep Wrangler Overland’s rear seats were replaced with a large, flat, rubberized utility floor. Mounted to the cargo rack is a new ARB two-person Simpson II rooftop-mounted tent and touring awning.
The interior of the Jeep Wrangler Overland features water-resistant Mopar front-seat covers, rugged Mopar slush mats and a Daystar dash bin and lower switch panel. Helping to enhance off-road travel is a new Mopar 2.5-inch suspension lift. A full-traction rear sway bar was added, allowing the addition of aggressive 35-inch tires mounted on 17-inch steel Mopar winter/off-road wheels. Additional off-road protection at the front and rear is provided by American Expedition Vehicles’ steel bumpers and for added security a Warn 9.5ti winch.
To prepare the Jeep Wrangler Overland for desert duty, an American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) Jeep Wrangler heat-reduction hood and snorkel kit was fitted. Mopar windshield-mounted off-road lights and Daystar bumper-mounted lights provide additional lighting for nighttime and off-road driving.
The objective for the team was to take a top-of-the-line 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland and ready it for serious off-road action. To improve traction for rock crawling, a set of 285/70R17 tires were mounted on a set of Wrangler Rubicon wheels and fitted with a Superlift 4-inch suspension system. Off-road protection was provided with an ARB high-clearance front bumper and Mopar heavy-duty rock rails. The already well-appointed Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland interior was prepped for severe duty with the addition of Mopar accessories front and rear slush mats, cargo liner and stainless-steel sill plates.
Mopar Underground’s Jeep “Lower Forty” takes the Jeep Wrangler to a new extreme. The Jeep “Lower Forty” is equipped with massive 40-inch x 13.5-inch 0R20LT tires mounted on Mopar 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. The Mopar Underground crew added the aggressive wheels and tires to a stock, two-door Wrangler Rubicon without the use of a suspension lift. The team’s goal was to achieve added ground clearance without altering the vehicle's center of gravity. To accomplish that, the team trimmed copious amounts of the body and fenders to provide the needed tire clearance.
Once achieved, the team used a saw to chop out 3-inches of height from the windshield frame and increased the rake by 10 degrees. Custom front and rear fender flares were made 1-inch wider and 4-inches higher compared with a stock vehicle. A new one-piece-carbon-fiber hood with a Jeep CJ-like power dome and an all-new drop-down tailgate stamped with the “Jeep” logo were added to the vehicle to complete the exterior design.
On the interior, a new roll cage was neatly integrated into the body tub and tied directly into the frame rails. The spare tire was relocated to the cargo floor and a custom cargo rack, supplied by Poly Performance, was installed. Once all body modifications were completed the exterior received a fresh coat of a custom color paint.
The carpet was removed and a durable truck-bed liner was sprayed inside to protect the floor. Rugged Mopar floor mats complete the theme.
The Jeep “Lower Forty” features a 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 engine and a Getrag 238 six-speed manual transmission. Powertrain installations were handled by Burnsville Off-Road using an AEV installation kit. Mopar supplied Dana 44 front axles and Dana 60 rear axles equipped with 5:38 gears and Dynatrac prepared ARB air lockers to handle the vehicle’s massive tires.
The interior of the Jeep Wrangler “All-Access” has been upgraded; designers added a Rubicon Express 4-inch long arm suspension lift, front and rear bumpers with tire carrier, rock rails, cold-air intake, front Dana 44 axle, rear Dana 60 axle and a Warn 9500ti winch. The “All-Access” Wrangler also features beefy 37-inch BF Goodrich mud-terrain tires. The Jeep Wrangler “All-Access” premiered at the 2007 SEMA show. (Photo from 2007.)
The Jeep “Liberator II” features 33-inch BF Goodrich mud-terrain tires and a 2-inch suspension lift from Superlift. Power comes from the 3.7-liter V6 engine under the hood. It features an ARB supplied rear locker with an onboard air-inflation compressor, custom-fabricated rock-rails, a front-fascia skid plate, Mopar brush guard and Borla cat-back exhaust. The Jeep “Liberator II” premiered at Moab Easter Jeep safari in 2008. The original Jeep Liberator was shown at SEMA in 2003, and was equipped with a diesel.
The “J8 Sarge” is a military version of the new Jeep Wrangler J8, a non-combat military support vehicle. Built from the 116-inch wheelbase version, the “J8 Sarge” is offered in either two-door or four-door configurations. J8-only structural upgrades in the body and chassis combine to increase the GVWR rating to 7,400 pounds. The platform can be configured as a light-troop carrier, ambulance or cargo truck.
Other notable features include the Dana 60 rear axle mounted on leaf springs, larger front-disc brakes and exclusive J8-only 17-inch x 8-inch steel wheels with a larger 5-inch x 5.5-inch bolt pattern. The rear differential is equipped with Trac-Lok limited slip device/differential (the front is open). The powertrain is a VM Motori S.p.A. 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 158 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The four-wheel-drive system is the Command-Trac® with both high and low-range gearing.
Other features unique to the “J8 Sarge” are heavy-duty steel bumpers each equipped with two forged military-spec lifting shackles (“helicopter hooks,” rated at 1.5 GVWR each, which are also used for tiedown points and for towing), a hood-mounted air-intake snorkel, dual rear-mounted battery boxes and heavy-duty spring hood latches. The “J8 Sarge” has been upgraded with 1.25-inch Superlift front coil spacers, 35-inch tires and custom cargo top. It’s painted Olive Drab with military markings.
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