Crew Chief 715 is Pure Fantasy, and We Love It

Apr. 14, 2016 By Josh Burns
The Crew Cheif is the first concept Jeep has built on the four-door JK platform.

Unlike the Trailstorm Concept Jeep Wrangler we drove a few weeks back at this year’s 50th Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, the Crew Chief 715 Concept is not grounded in reality. In fact, the Crew Chief is pure fantasy, and maybe that’s why we love it so much.

The Trailstorm may be a mild concept vehicle in comparison to some of the wild stuff the Jeep design team conjures up for EJS each year, but the fact is Trailstorm is a realistic build someone could do using Jeep Performance Parts right out of the Mopar catalog. The Crew Chief 715 is not. In fact, it’s really a blend of “wish list” features Jeep enthusiasts are clamoring for on the new Wrangler all wrapped into one.

As head of Jeep Design Mark Allen explained to us at the unveiling for Jeep’s concept rigs this year, the Crew Chief has a military theme but it’s not exactly something that would see front-line action; it’s more so the limo to drive around VIPs back at the base. That explains why it’s large, in charge, and very sleek all at the same time.

Check out those switches up top and the nautical compass mounted to the dash.

“We’ve done several different pickup trucks throughout the years but had never done a crew cab off of the Wrangler platform,” Allen said. “The Nukizer, which was a perennial favorite using the M715 nose on it, that, plus a really utilitarian box on it that’s really a fabricated version of what a M715 box was, the convertible top, it just all seemed to click. Doing all that to one vehicle we just knew we’d excite people. There’s a clientele out there that that is their dream truck.”

A one-off five-foot bed was constructed for the Crew Chief 715, and to accommodate it the wheelbase was lengthened 23 inches.

Of course there are. As we highlighted earlier this year, head honcho Jeep CEO Mike Manley appears to have green-lighted a Jeep pickup for the next-gen Wrangler. The Crew Chief essentially takes that idea and runs with it. The Crew Chief may look big in pictures, but it actually is even larger in person, and part of that is due to its lengthened wheelbase that is 23 inches longer than a production four-door JK Wrangler. The team then constructed a 5-foot steel cargo box, accented it with bed-mounted vintage military cans, and put a canvas soft top on it to complete the look. The final touch is the Kaiser-inspired nose front end.

“The idea behind the truck wasn’t really the infantryman’s truck, it was the base commander’s truck, so it’s nicer, the paint job has more like an anodized look to it, it’s very neat and clean, very military,” Allen said. “I enjoy the stance of it - it’s very narrow and tall. As it was driving by when it came in this morning, it’s just got such a confident profile out on the road. Narrow and tall doesn’t usually work, but somehow it just looks in charge.”

Yep, 40-inch military-inspired tires on 20-inch beadlocks - what a combo!

Helping elevate the Crew Chief is a 4-inch JPP lift with remote-reservoir Fox shocks. Heavy-duty JPP Dana 60 axles are installed front and rear with a 5.38:1 gear ratio. Modified rock rails are used for trail protection (even though it’ll likely never get that close to obstacles in real life), and modified versions of the 10th Anniversary Rubicon front and rear bumpers are fitted on the Chief as well. One of the craziest features on the Jeep, however, has to be the tires and wheels.

“The other piece of magic on that vehicle is the NDT tire,” Allen said. “It’s a military-grade tire from way back - I don’t even know what it was used on. It’s a very narrow 9 inches wide but a 40-inch overall diameter, and then the wheel size is 20 inches.”

The deep bed also houses extra gas cans.

Not surprisingly, we are told finding the 20-inch beadlock wheels was a chore in and of itself. When all is said and done, somehow it all works. Once we climbed inside the Crew Chief, we were impressed by the interior accents, such as the dash-mounted nautical compass and the aircraft-inspired control switches for the lockers, auxiliary lighting and to control the on-board air compressor system.

Make sure you don't put fuel in the "air supply."

Driving the Crew Chief is interesting, to say the least. It feels giant and is the closest thing to a Jeep limo we’ve ever driven. We didn’t tackle any hard-core obstacles or trails, but whatever ledges and small rocks we didn’t encounter felt like they weren’t even there. Surely engaging the locking differentials would only aid in the Crew Chief’s capability, though the Chief didn’t struggle on anything we encountered.

The coolest easter egg on the Crew Chief: the metal army man mounted hiding out back can open your beer after the day's ride.

The Crew Chief 715 isn’t something we’d ever see in production form simply because it is so massive. Yet like most of the concepts Jeep brings out to the Easter Jeep Safari every year, it certainly explores some realistic concepts but does so in a way that every enthusiast can appreciate – way over the top! Newsletter
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