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The Jeep Dakar and Jeep Icon: 1997 Concept Cars

1997 Jeep Dakar: Four-Door Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Dakar"People will definitely look twice when they see Dakar," said John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice President of Product Design. "Compared to our 1997 Jeep Wrangler, Dakar comes complete with twice as many doors and is prepared for twice the adventure."

Jeep designers made room for two additional doors by stretching Dakar's wheelbase to 108.5 inches (2756 mm), almost 15 inches (381mm) longer than the 1997 Jeep Wrangler. "With a longer wheelbase, we are able to offer additional space for passengers and their gear," said Trevor M. Creed, Chrysler Corporation's Design Director. "We are also able to further improve the ride by positioning back seat passengers in front of the rear axle as opposed to directly on top of it."

Dakar was given a new windshield, side glass and all-new steel roof. The roof offered a variety of features including a full-length built-in tubular roof rack, as well as a manual canvas sliding sunroof, front-mounted rally lamps, spare tire storage, and strategically-placed access handrails that ran the length of the D-pillar. The spare tire was clamped on to the roof bars and featured a special sliding mechanism which allowed for easy, quick, no-hassle removal.

Other multi-purpose features included a folding shovel integrated into Dakar's front fender, jerricans built onto the rear tailgate, and an adventure module designed to fit inside of the rear door that features a night vision scope, binoculars, flashlight and compass. "Always be prepared," said Creed. "You never know where Dakar's spirit of adventure may take you."

Dakar's earth-toned interior shared the same rugged characteristics of a 1997 Jeep Wrangler but featured wood trim, woven leather seats and Berber carpeting. "We utilized wood and leather to give the interior of the vehicle more of a civilized, European-style flavor," said Creed.

The end result seemed to Allpar to be similar to the original Jeep Cherokee, a vehicle whose place had not been completely filled in the hearts of the Jeep faithful by the Liberty. To be fair, the Liberty had greater sales and a better repair record.

Read about our test drive! See more photos!

DIMENSIONS (INCHES/MM)

Overall Length: 166.5/4229
Overall Width: 72.0/1829
Overall Height: 75.0/1905
Wheelbase: 108.5/2756
Front Track: 58.0/1473
Rear Track: 58.0/1473
Engine: 4.0 L, I-6
Drivetrain: Four Speed Automatic Transmission
Body: Four Door All-Steel Body on Frame
Suspension: Front Carryover Wrangler
Rear Carryover Wrangler
Brakes: ABS
Front Disc
Rear Drum

1997 Jeep Icon

"Jeep Icon is a creative exploration for a next-generation Jeep Wrangler," said John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice President of Product Design. "It's solid, stable, built like a rock, and its capabilities have been further enhanced."

Re-designing Jeep Wrangler for the next century was a unique challenge for Chrysler designers. "We have a responsibility as caretakers of one of the world's most recognized brands," said Trevor M. Creed, Chrysler Corporation's Design Director. "Sooner or later we will be challenged with freshening Jeep Wrangler's appearance without sacrificing its distinctive image and instantly-recognizable characteristics."

Chrysler designers achieved Icon's compact, muscular look by increasing the size of its bumper, tires and wheel arches. "Our objective was to give Icon a trim, poised look while keeping much of Jeep Wrangler's unique character," said Creed. "However, we widened Wrangler's track, reduced its length by five inches (127 mm), its overhang by two inches (51 mm), and increased wheel travel from eight (203 mm) to 10 inches (254 mm)."

Traditional Jeep Wrangler design cues, including its long dash-to-axle proportions, classic grille face, exposed hinges, folding windshield, and roll cage were re-defined and updated for the next century. "We wanted to capture the essence of practical product design which fits the Jeep image," said Creed. "We kept the familiar grille, but made it shorter and wider. We also kept the exposed hinges, bold bumpers, exposed door handles, and gas cap which were designed to give the vehicle more of a mechanical, industrial design feel, and at the same time add a lot of intrinsic value. Where the vehicle differs the most is that it is designed as a unibody construction with an integrated aluminum roll cage."

Icon was painted Steel Blue Metallic. Its interior was deliberately simple and rugged with the same exposed aluminum fittings and painted steel. "One of Icon's most notable interior design elements are its seats," said Creed. "Inspired by the design of a camper's backpack, Icon's seats are light-weight and made of exposed aluminum tubes which support durable waterproofed olive-gray leather upholstery."

Icon Designer Robert Laster said his overall design concept was inspired by the design elements found on today's high-end mountain bikes. "Just like top-of-the-line mountain bikes and our current lineup of Jeep sport utility vehicles, Icon was built to go anywhere," said Laster. "Its parts are high-quality, light-weight, and purpose-built. To communicate the quality of each part, we branded our Jeep logo on Icon's hinges, door handles, wheels, and bumpers."

"As we move closer and closer to the next century, Jeep enthusiasts will be happy to know their Jeep will still look like a Jeep," said Creed.

DIMENSIONS (INCHES/MM)

Overall Length: 142.0/3607
Overall Width: 67.7/1720
Overall Height: 70.1/1781
Wheelbase: 93.4/2372
Front Track: 59.2/1504
Rear Track: 61.6/1565
Wheels: Cast Aluminum 8 x 19
Engine: 2.4 Liter, I-4
Drivetrain: Five Speed Manual Transmission
Body: Two Door
Unitized with Integrated Roll Cage
Suspension:
Front Double Wishbone
Rear Double Wishbone
with 10 Inches (254 mm) of Wheel Travel
Brakes: ABS Four-Wheel Disc

 

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