Each year Jeep brings a handful of one-off concepts to its Easter Safari in Moab, Utah. While these more often than not tend to be rugged, rock-crawling forces of nature, there’s one guest of honour at this year’s event that’s a bit more laid back than the rest.
That rust-coloured summer child is the Jeepster Beach concept. To create it, Jeep stuffed the guts of a 2020 Wrangler Rubicon underneath the body of a 1968 Jeepster Commando. Five years ago, our own David Tracy told us everyone should daily-drive a classic Jeepster Commando, and this rendition seems like the optimal one for the task.
Powering the Jeepster Beach is a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four, a no cost-added powertrain option on existing Wranglers. But whereas that engine normally develops 200 kilowatts and 400 Nm in production guise, this example is “custom calibrated” to pump out 250 kW and 500 Nm. From Stellantis:
The direct-injection engine uses a twin-scroll, low-inertia turbocharger mounted directly to the cylinder head, along with a dedicated cooling circuit for the turbocharger, intake air and throttle body for exceptional responsiveness, performance and fuel efficiency. An eight-speed automatic transmission mated to a 4:1 transfer case delivers power to 35-inch tyres.
Yet the Jeepster Beach’s exterior belies its modern running gear. The concept sports a two-tone paint job, mostly clad in a shade of burnt orange appropriately named Hazy IPA, with a cream stripe encircling the beltline. Jeep calls that colour Zinc Oxide.
Inside, the retro cherry red low-back seats and gratuitous stickers give way to modern amenities, like Stellantis’ Uconnect touchscreen system. Again, these are the innards of a current Wrangler in the body of a 53-year-old truck, so the effect is a bit jarring but nonetheless stylish and sunny. The chrome four-point roll bar completes the aesthetic.
Ditto for the old-timey badging. Something tells me if Jeep offered these as optional trim on existing models, they’d print money. Then again, the look would also be worn out after seeing them on every new Jeep on the road, so maybe it’s for the best that the designers save it for the concepts.
This Jeep works from any angle, but my favourite is the back. I’m no Jeep historian, so I was surprised by the Jeepster Commando’s funky inward-slanted tailgate and oversized vintage lettering. I want a boardwalk-bounding, surf-inspired spinoff of Crazy Taxi with this resto-mod as the main vehicle of choice, yeeting itself off sand dunes as obnoxious ska punk blares in the background. And I hate ska.
Jeep’s annual Moab party begins March 27 and runs through April 4. In addition to the Jeepster Beach, the company is also bringing an all-electric Wrangler Rubicon called Magneto. There’s a custom Gladiator with a plaid interior called Red Bare and a Wrangler fitted with an Orange Peelz interior.