A Little Diesel For Your Jeep, Mini-Truck, Or Custom Wheeler
In a hidden warehouse on some farmland outside of metropolitan Detroit, a group of engineers from the oldest family in 4x4s assembled a secret project in an effort to bring a special product to market. The plan was simple, the timeline short, and the result spectacular. Here is the inside scoop on how some rogue Jeep-lovin' Mopar guys stuffed a military diesel into a Jeep TJ in hopes that you'll do the same someday soon.
It all started when the engineers in the Mopar Performance Parts unit realized that the 2.8L I-4 diesel engines being built for the Egyptian military could also be a great small diesel crate engine. The version used here would perform better than the 120hp and 240-lb-ft of torque version used in the '03-'05 Jeep Liberty diesel and could be easily fitted into a '97-'06 TJ Wrangler, then those owners looking for something different and fuel-efficient just might be willing to do the swap. Thus a few months before the big Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, a plan was hatched to pull one of these diesels from a military Jeep test mule and stuff it into an '05 TJ Unlimited. We got some behind-the-closed-doors photos of the install. We also got a chance to drive the finished vehicle and are waiting impatiently to get our hands on a crate engine of our own.
Your 2 Cents
Do you think Mopar should go ahead with this crate-engine program? Remember, it doesn't only have to go in a Jeep; it could fit in any 4x4 that a small torquey four-cylinder would help motivate and would do so efficiently. If you support the effort, send your comments to the following e-mail, and let them know you're ready and willing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you reference the story in 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine in your e-mail!
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The only hint of the new engine is the green diesel fuel cap and a subtle combustion clatter coming from under the hood. Final pricing hasn't been determined yet for this crate engine (Mopar still calls this entire effort "a research project"), but we would like to see it around $7,500 for the crate engine alone (Hemi crate engines are $8K to $11K) and $11,000 for a complete kit. We feel the kit should include everything from fuel and cooling system down to clutch and flywheel bolts. It should also be available from any Chrysler, Jeep, or Dodge dealership offering Mopar parts, making it easy for anyone to source.