CarsGuide Podcast: Tools in the Shed ep. 181
Episode 181 - The utes we want but can't have
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Mopar’s SEMA concepts bring a retro-styling twist, while highlighting Mopar accessories and parts.
As the annual SEMA automotive specialty show in Las Vegas kicks off this week, Mopar, the aftermarket parts and accessories division for all FCA brands (Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, SRT, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Fiat), has rocked up with a collection of modified vehicles and aftermarket parts from their portfolio.
The highlight of their showcase is the debut of six modified vehicles based on the Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Durango, Ram Power Wagon, Chrysler Pacifica van, and a Dodge commercial van.
Heading the line-up is the Dodge Shakedown Challenger and Jeep CJ66 concepts, which takes the retro-styling idea to impressive new heights by blending the classic old forms with modern design cues.
Dressed in an aptly named “Bitchin’ Black” exterior paintjob, the Dodge Shakedown Challenger sports the svelte form of the original 1971 Challenger, with the front headlights and rear taillights from the current Challenger. To give the Shakedown Challenger its sleek appearance, Mopar had shaved its body, removed its door handles, drip rails, and fuel door. Completing its sinister look, the Shakedown Challenger headlamp bezels, housing, taillight surrounds, front grille and its surround, rear spoiler and chin spoiler, fog lamp bezels, and mirror caps are finished in satin black, whilst the headlights feature red-trimmed lenses.
Beneath its Shaker bonnet kit - which is a nod to the original 1971 Shaker hood scoop - lies a 362kW Hemi-V8 that we can only assume hails from the current Challenger SRT. The engine is paired to a Tremec six-speed manual transmission from the Viper, and loaded with Mopar enhancements such as a concept cold-air intake and custom dual exhaust with black powder-coated Mopar exhaust tips.
Custom front and rear suspension systems gives the Shakedown Challenger a lowered stance, with huge 19-inch front and 20-inch rear concept SRT Hellcat Slingshot wheels completing its road hugging appearance. Housed behind the wheels are Brembo-red SRT Hellcat six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes.
The adoption of parts from Mopar’s parts bin continues on the inside with the fitment of leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats from the Viper, a Viper steering wheel, a gearknob donated from the SRT Hellcat, and black Mopar instrument panel gauges. To give it a modern touch, the cabin is outfitted with gloss carbon-fibre trim for the instrument panel cluster, centre console, steering wheel trim, and door panels.
Despite being fitted with many bits and pieces from Dodge and Mopar, the Shakedown Challenger isn’t something the average man on the street can put together as it is built on a unique hand-built one-off frame with a removable body.
Likewise the Jeep CJ66 is an attractive mix of a 1997 Wrangler TJ frame with the body of the 1966 Wrangler CJ universal Tuxedo Park body bolted on top, and garnished with styling elements from the current Wrangler JK.
Riding on giant 35-inch BFG all-terrain tyres wrapped around 17-inch beadlock wheels from Jeep Performance Parts, along with a two-inch lift kit to further prop the diminutive CJ body up on high, the CJ66 has a monster-truck vibe to its appearance. An impression that is strengthened by the fitment of oversized concept fender flares, Mopar 10th Anniversary Wrangler JK Rubicon bumper kits, and Jeep Performance Parts skid and front bumper plates, and concept rock rails.
The CJ66 is packed full of Mopar parts such as the Mopar engine cover, which houses a Mopar cold-air intake, and Mopar cat-back exhaust, while the CJ66 rides on front and rear Mopar Dana 44 Crate axles. The CJ66 also sports Mopar LED amber fog lights, and a Mopar Warn winch.
Keeping to the spirit of the original CJ, there is no enclosure on the CJ66 save for a two-inch cropped windshield, a custom-built roll cage, and a bikini-top netting above. Far from being spartan, the CJ66 sports seats from the Viper, a centre console and shifter from the Wrangler JK, and Mopar instrument panel gauges and all-weather mats.
Touted as the ‘Dodge Charger’ of the SUV segment, Mopar gave the Durango a muscle-car treatment to befit its reputation with the Durango Shaker concept. Upfront the Durango Shaker comes with a custom-fabricated and fully-functional Shaker Hood that feeds huge quantities of air to its 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine, which is further enhanced by a Mopar cold-air intake and customise chrome Mopar cat-back dual exhaust system.
The ride on the other hand has been lowered by three inches thanks to a custom lowering kit, while custom fender flares are attached to accomodate the huge 22-inch Mopar wheels, which also houses large six-piston brakes from SRT. It isn’t just all for show, Mopar had also worked some functionality into the Durango Shaker, with the fitment of functional brake ducts for cooling, an open grille design replacing the stylistic crosshair grille for better airflow into the engine, and aerodynamic front chin splitters.
As for cabin appointments, Mopar turns the appearance of performance up a notch by installing three rows of leather-trimmed Viper seats, along with a flat-bottom steering wheel from the Charger SRT. That being said, the Durango Shaker also features some practical accessories from Mopar, which comes in the form of a remote start feature, electronic vehicle tracking system, bright door sill guards, wireless charging, pedal kit, and emergency kit.
Nothing about the Ram Macho Power Wagon name is understated, with Mopar claiming that the ‘Macho’ name is taken from a popular Power Wagon trim level in the 1970s. Nevertheless to fit the Macho Power Wagon billing, Mopar had taken a standard Power Wagon heavy-duty pick-up truck and fitted on 37-inch Nitto Trail Grappler MT tyres, wrapped around 18-inch beadlock wheels, and elevated on a four-inch custom lift kit. Power from its 6.4-litre Hemi V8 is enhanced by the fitment of a Mopar cold-air intake, while a dual-wall five-inch Mopar exhaust tips adds a deeper note to the engine’s roar.
To suit its elevated ride height, the Macho Power Wagon features a one-piece Mopar concept off-road running boards, larger concept fender flares, a 21-inch heavy-duty light bar, and LED clearance lights on the roof. And as a complement to its exuberant adventurous exterior, the Macho Power Wagon comes with a Mopar sliding RamRack that fits over the bed that can be stowed away under the cabin’s sail panel when not in use, and a RamRack roof system that can lock down items.
Save for the Macho Mango paintjob that extends to its cabin trim panels, the Macho Power Wagon retains much of its interior fixture. The only addition here are Mopar accessories such as the wireless charging feature, pedal kit, rear all-weather mats, and ‘RAM’ logo sill guards.
It isn’t just muscle cars and monster SUVs, as Mopar also rolled out a customised full-size commercial van, with the Ram ProMaster Pit Stop. Designed to be a mobile bar, the ProMaster Pit Stop features a Mopar-customised hinged door that opens upwards towards the roof, revealing a drop-down bar counter. The mobile bar features four on-board taps that are outfitted with Mopar T-handle, billet aluminium, cue ball, and pistol grip gear shifters.
Not just a bar that serves drinks, the cargo area features a slotted board that displays Mopar gear and accessories.
Adding a touch of sportiness to its appearance, the ProMaster Pit Stop comes fitted with Mopar concept 20-inch lightweight wheels with machined accents, blistered out wheel flares, and a unique open texture front grille replete with the concept ‘RAM’ lettering.
Aside from the customised Mopar graphics on its white exterior, little custom tweaks were done to the Pacifica Candence show car. Most of the work done on this particular vehicle was to highlight the extent of Mopar’s accessories.
While the production Mopar 20-inch tri-colour rims lends some sporty undertones to the Pacifica Candence, the extent of Mopar’s accessorising is towards practical considerations. It features a pet kennel for family pets, a wireless charging feature, Chrysler-branded first aid kit, Chrysler sill guards, all-weather floor and cargo mats, and a light duty vinyl mat for the second row. Straddling its roof is a Mopar/Thule paddleboard/surfboard carrier to suit its active-lifestyle theme.
Although none of the models on which these concepts are based on are available officially from FCA Australia, several parts and accessories fitted to these SEMA show cars can be ordered from the Mopar Australia website for local models from the FCA group of brands.