In a preview of this year’s ‘toyfest’ at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, Chrysler’s Mopar brand showed for the first time (in a long time) a new pickup. The kit, coming to Jeep dealers sometime late summer, will allow owners of 4-door Wranglers to convert their off-roaders into a short-bed pickup with in-cab storage.
This isn’t the first time the folks at Jeep have demonstrated interest in the pickup market. In the early ‘80s the CJ-8 Scrambler capably accommodated two passengers and their bed-mounted gear. More recently, the conversion specialists at Montana-based AEV have offered their Brute kit, a do-it-yourself or they-will-build-it-for-you conversion of the Jeep TJ. With AEV, the regimen is fairly straightforward: Find an appropriate donor (one written off in a rear-end collision is perfect), acquire the AEV parts (under $10K) and either contract with an approved builder – figure another $10K for assembly and paint – or do it yourself. Regardless, you’ll end up with a distinctive vehicle that increases (considerably) both the Jeep’s ‘sport’ and ‘utility’.
With the announcement by Mopar, customers will have an in-house means of accomplishing much the same thing. However, Mopar’s emphasis would seem to target the needs of a roomy cab at the expense of a roomy bed – which is but 50 inches in length. Body panels cover the Jeep Unlimited’s second row entrance, and the build entails removing all of the interior parts behind the front seats, opening that area for gear and the bed conversion. Finally, a bulkhead (included) provides separation between passengers and those 50-inch items you’re transporting in the bed.
In the Moab concept, the Jeep drivetrain is fitted with an upgraded Mopar/Dynatrac ProRock 44 front axle, long travel suspension and General tires. The whole package is coated in a not-so-mellow yellow.
This is one significant step toward the introduction of a production Jeep pickup. At a recent off-road seminar attended by Jeep enthusiasts, the demand for a pickup was repeatedly voiced – and the Jeep execs on hand heard them. With the increasingly high cost of fuel, consumer interest could be strong in a Jeep pickup powered by one of the readily available Fiat (VM Motori?) diesel powertrains.