No 2016 SUV has generated as much buzz as the Jeep Trailcat Concept showcased at the 50th annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. As a two-door Wrangler transformed into a 707-horsepower off-roader, it’s arguably the wildest vehicle to ever wear the Jeep badge. That’s saying a lot given the history of the brand, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. So we asked Joe Dehner, head of the team that created this beast, to tell us more…
Biggest Inspiration? “It’s like, why not? It’s a Wrangler. You got the Hellcat [6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8] engine, which is the ultimate engine. Put ’em together, it’s the ultimate off-road statement. Not everybody has the Jeep brand. Not everybody has a 707-horsepower engine. So it’s our duty to show the world that we can do this stuff even in a conceptual form.”
How About That Color? “We had more subdued colors. We had neutral tones and in the 11th hour what we settled on was a Sublime Green-inspired color we call, “Hellen Green.” It’s an old sixties joke where somebody says, “You look like Helen Green” and the woman replies, “Well you should see what I look like in pink.”
In Addition to the Hellcat Engine, What Else Makes It Special? “It’s a highly modified production vehicle. It’s a 12-inch longer wheelbase. It’s been lifted two inches. We’ve chopped the windshield. We’ve done some design mastery on it to make it look even more aggressive and more off-road worthy. But it’s fairly docile on the road. It’s very civilized. But you lay your foot into the throttle and all hell breaks loose. It’s Jekyll and Hyde.”
Could It Birth an Actual Production Model? “I cannot comment on that. But I will say that some of the parts on the Trailcat you can buy today from a Jeep dealership through Mopar, like the hood. The wheels are… more conceptual but that could turn into a production part. So whether it’s a more simple form or slightly modified, [there are] a lot of pieces and parts that somebody could do on their own and make a clone of the vehicle.”
How Long Did It Take to Build? “It was really aggressive because the Easter Jeep Safari is centered around the Jeep holiday and it came early this year. We didn’t get approval… until about the first week in December. So we had about three months to make it all happen.”
What Happens After It Makes the Rounds on the Circuit? “Like anything else [built as a concept], within the next couple of years it will move on and newer stuff will take its place. It’ll spend a lot of its time sitting in a warehouse in the Detroit area. Ultimately, the car may have its day with the crusher.”
Could Some Mega Billionaire Buy It? “[They] could make an offer but I don’t know if we would sell it to the public. These are concepts and quite truthfully, sometimes not even road-worthy because so many of the parts are prototypes.” Damn, there goes our Kickstarter idea to fund the ultimate off-roading action flick with the Trailcat.