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August 2011 Drivelines - Off-Road Truck News

Wrangler Blue Crush Front Three Quarter
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted August 1, 2011

Moparized Jeeps, TORC, Diesel Ford Ranger, and More!

Moab Gets Moparized
Mopar, Chrysler’s performance division, modified six Jeeps for the Easter Jeep Safari. Next month’s report from Moab will include driving impressions of some of these tricked-out Jeeps, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek at what Mopar has up its sleeve for the big week.

Our three favorites are pictured here. The others include a diesel-powered Cherokee Overland (what we know as the Liberty) fitted with a 3-inch lift, ARB Air Locker and lots of body armor; a Hemi-powered Wrangler Renegade; and a lifted and skidplated Compass.

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Which Came First?
After reading about the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (Drivelines, May ’11), reader Joey Eannotti wrote to say that while GMC’s Sierra All-Terrain HD concept truck “is great looking and well put together, if I recall correctly, Chevy came out with one very much like this at the 2009 SEMA Show. I just wanted to point this out because I believe Chevy should get the credit for this design. Even though they are basically the same company, I feel that Chevy is much better and has a better history off-road.”

We went back to our coverage of the ’09 SEMA Show and dug out a photo of Chevy’s Silverado ZR2 concept truck to compare it with GMC’s show truck. There’s a definite family resemblance—enhanced by the fact that both roll on 35-inch tires and 20-inch wheels—so you could make the case that Chevy pioneered the general look. But the two trucks are far from identical. The Chevy is an extended-cab hot rod with carbon-fiber bodywork, a 4-inch lift, and a supercharged, 550hp LS crate engine. The GMC is a crew-cab with stock Duramax power and extensive suspension mods that widened its track and raised its ground clearance—a heavy-duty Raptor, if you will.

So maybe the Chevy was first. Does that make it better?

70 Years of Jeep at Chrysler Museum
As part of Jeep’s 70th anniversary celebration, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan, is holding a special exhibition of historic Jeeps that includes as its centerpiece a rare ’41 Willys MA like the one in this vintage photo. The Willys’ owners, George and Bernadette Hollins, have traced its origins back to July 5, 1941, the day it was delivered to the U.S. Army from the Willys-Overland plant in Toledo. It is believed to be one of four MAs shipped to the 15th Infantry for testing in Fort Lewis, Washington. Jeep historians estimate that just 45 of these early MAs still exist, and fewer than half are restored. Of those, eight are in the U.S.

Joining the Hollins’ MA will be a rotating collection of vintage and significant Jeeps, from a ’43 MB and a ’45 CJ-2A to some of Jeep’s latest concept vehicles. The exhibition runs through December 30, 2011.

In addition to the Jeep display, the museum will hold events to commemorate July 15, 1941, the date the U.S. Army signed the contract that made Willys-Overland the lead producer of the military reconnaissance vehicle. On July 13 there will be a cruise night with Jeeps featured in the museum’s parking lot, and on July 16 Jeep history buff and Chrysler retiree Larry Johnson will give a talk on Jeep’s enduring popularity as part of the museum’s 2011 Lecture/Workshop Series. For more info on this special Jeep celebration, stop by www.wpchryslermuseum.org.

This Just In
• Remember the “Imported From Detroit” ad that ran during the Super Bowl? A Michigan Jeep dealer had 500 shirts printed with his own version—“Imported From Toledo”—to celebrate Jeep’s heritage. According to USA Today, Ralph Mahalak Jr. of the Monroe Superstore in Michigan was planning to sell them for $19.41 in honor of Jeep’s founding year and donate the proceeds to local charities. You can guess what happened next. Chrysler’s suits shut him down, saying they did not want anyone to diminish or dilute the official tag line. So Ralph has given away the rest of the shirts. We haven’t spotted one on eBay yet, but we’re sure it’s just a matter of time.

• Last month we told you about a value-priced Ram pickup with the code name Adventurer. We have since learned the Hemi-powered truck will be called the Ram 1500 Express. If that name reminds you of the Li’l Red Express pickup truck from the late ’70s, it’s supposed to.

• A recall of some 144,000 Ford F-150s because of a possible short circuit in the airbag system has grown to include 1.2 million ’04-’06 F-150s and Lincoln Mark LTs, says Automotive News. The issue is wire chafing, which could do as little as trigger the airbag warning light in the dash or as much as deploy the bags.

• Apple iPhone and iPad owners can now take advantage of a free app from General Tire that provides tire sizing and model information, a dealer locator, racing videos, and a photo gallery. The app is available at generaltire.com and the iTunes Store.

Earth Watch
• Tread Lightly! has released a new phone app that helps users find parks and public lands throughout America based on their favorite activities. The Oh Ranger! Park Finder is available at the iTunes Store and at the ohranger.com website. It’s free thanks to sponsorship from Ford.

• In response to perceived changes in BLM policy, a task force lead by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) headed to Washington, D.C., recently to meet with Bob Abbey, the BLM’s national director. The task force included AMA District 37 President Jerry Grabow; AMA Senior Vice President, Government Relations Ed Moreland; Off-Road Business Association President Fred Wiley; and Jeff Knoll, representing the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs. The meeting allowed the OHV leadership to express the growing concern enthusiasts have regarding policy, safety, management, staffing, and cost recovery for Special Recreational Permits (SRPs) on BLM managed lands. Spectator safety has remained the highest priority for the BLM regarding SRPs, and the group offered suggestions based on their experience in an effort to create a national policy regarding enforcement of spectator boundaries.

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