When you’re an auto writer and you get an invite to join the head of Jeep Design, Mark Allen, and drive some of the brand’s hottest concepts, you go for it. For any Jeep fan, taking prototypes like the Chief, Staff Car, Africa, Wrangler Africa and Mighty FC off-roading is a priceless experience. And while all the concepts are cool, our favorite is the beachy, funky Jeep Chief. So here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this one-of-a-kind vehicle.
A tribute to the era of the ’70s full-size Cherokee, the Chief (painted a wild Ocean Blue) is a classic spin on the current Wrangler platform, with a west coast theme echoing the surfer life and fun in the sun. While there are currently no plans to make a production model of the Jeep Chief, Allen said the concepts do provide the company with a means to test new ideas in real-world scenarios.
Off-roading in the Chief, which is equipped with the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 featured in Jeeps like the 2015 Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, gives you an even better appreciation for the engine.
Building on its ’70s appeal, the Chief, unveiled earlier this year in Moab, Utah, also features a white French Bread roof, removable sides and classic, 17-inch slotted mag wheels.
The custom razor grille on the Jeep Chief concept was inspired by the old-school Wagoneer.
Inside, the Chief features a Hawaiian-themed interior complete with Jeep-designed “Surfer” pink, blue and white flowered cloth and leather-trimmed seats.
The tiki-style shifter handle on the Jeep Chief is a custom piece milled from the same rosewood used in the rest of the interior.
To help give the Chief its rugged look, the doors and windshield were chopped two inches and a number of Jeep Performance Parts were added, including a two-inch lift kit and custom Rubicon rock rails.
The Jeep Chief, which Allen said has been one of their most popular concepts at Jeep events, took roughly ten weeks to custom build from the Wrangler platform.
While truly capable as an off-roader, it’s really the classic look of the Chief that makes it one of our favorite Jeep concepts.