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2018 Easter Jeep Safari: The Best Jeep Concepts From Moab #EJS2018

Posted in Moab Experience: 2018 on April 2, 2018
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Photographers: Rick PéwéTraci Clark

Every year the Jeep design team busts their collective tails to make a splash at the Easter Jeep Safari. They do it with a collection of concept vehicles, along with their brethren at Jeep Performance Products’ division of Mopar. Unveiled at the 2018 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, the collection of project builds this year was truly outstanding. And unlike concepts built for the car show circuit, these Jeeps are fully functional and ready to rock and roll down the road. We just wish they would let us take one home!

However, the two crowd favorites, as well as our own, are somewhat a distance apart in form and function, yet both are truly fascinating builds. The two winners this year are the Wagoneer Roadtrip, and the Sandstorm.

Wagoneer Roadtrip
The Wagoneer Roadtrip evokes memories of the way it was in the ’60s, with innovative style, power, and capability. Starting with a rust-free California donor Jeep, the mint green ’64 model was transformed with wider Dana 44 axles suspended on a coil-link suspension. The boxed and reinforced frame supports the body and NVG231 transfer case, along with the four-speed auto and requisite Hemi powerplant. But the subtle styling cues of a 6-inch- longer wheelbase and custom integrated wheel flares really set it off. Inside the cabin is bone-stock to the naked eye, except for the architectural green glass windows, special Jeep-O-Matic axle lockers, and of course the reupholstered leather bench seats and center consoles. Sliding into those seats is a dream, along with the perfectly proportionate steering wheel —just the right huge diameter and a perfectly thin rim diameter for a vintage feel— especially with the unmolested gauge cluster showing a relevant 69 miles. The exterior wheel diameter is also huge compared to the original 15-inchers, but the new 17s help hide the huge brakes and all look perfectly matched to the 33-inch BFGs. Of course, the Wagoneer performs as well as it looks, and cruising on streets, rocks, and sand washes are a joy that is indescribably delicious. There is much want on this one!

This over- the- top desert race–inspired JL has more cool tech than anything around. The design team sat down with engineers and built a go-fast buggy that looks like a million and probably could win a race or two. The team even contacted Mel Wade at Off Road Evolution for help in making sure the suspension would work—and not just look good. We tested it out in detail on rocks, boulders, dirt, and sand and found it was the sweet spot that we all want in a performance machine. It even has the road manners to be a daily driver, which would probably get you more than a side-glance from Johnny Law. Wirth a six-speed manual trans hooked to the big Hemi, peeling out at traffic lights can easily be done, just like cruising down the roads and trails of Baja.

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