Video - Mopar 2012 SEMA Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper
Mopar, the performance division of Chrysler, celebrates its 75-year anniversary in 2012. Although Mopar was originally trademarked by Chrysler for antifreeze product back in 1937, the brand really made its mark in the muscle-car era in the ‘60s. Taking its name from a contraction of the words motor and parts, Mopar has grown into a line of performance parts for Chrysler Group vehicles for everyone to the garage mechanic to professional race teams.
At the 2012 SEMA Show, Mopar brought with it a host of Mopar-parts-equipped vehicles to display some of its latest new product as well as some prototype parts. Off-roaders may be familiar with the Jeep dream vehicles conjured up by the Mopar team, as the company always builds and displays some amazing off-road concept vehicles for the Easter Jeep Safari each year in Moab, Utah. The Mopar/Jeep team actually brings out the vehicles for journalists to driver and test out, which is very unique for the media to actually get to drive a concept vehicle (and something we truly relish).
Of the off-road vehicles Mopar took to SEMA, the Power Ram and the Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper were highlights. We drooled over both vehicles and the idea of playing with them in the dirt. Fortunately for us on the West Coast, some of these unique vehicles made their way out to LA for a few days after SEMA. We had the chance to check out the Sand Trooper in much greater detail – we even got to take it for a spin around the block. It was also a good opportunity to speak with Mopar representatives to get a feel for the brand, its past, and where it will head in the future.
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President and CEO of the Mopar Brand Pietro Gorlier spoke with us about Mopar, specifically some of the changes the team has made to its approach with the Jeep brand.
“2012 is a big year for Mopar, because it is the celebration of the 75 years of history,” Gorlier said. “We are extending the SEMA season by bringing all of our cars to LA. Mopar is a brand that is expanding its reach globally, and through the partnership between Chrysler and Fiat, we have 70 million vehicles high-quality accessories that pass the same tests of production vehicles.”
Of the vehicle Mopar services, one of the most customizable lines is Jeep lineup, for which Mopar offers a large line of add-on parts – going so far as to create an Off-Road Division.
“When it comes to Jeep obviously it’s all about capability and performance,” Gorlier said. “First of all, we created the Mopar Off-Road Division that has the responsibility to connect with customers, design and engineer and put out to market parts that are specifically designed for Jeep together with the Jeep engineers. Secondly, we are launching together with Jeep a new portfolio pass Jeep Performance Parts that are specifically designed for extreme off-road. Our enthusiasts are all familiar with Moab. Every year we go to Moab every year we go to Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari, we test these new parts, we talk with customers, we gather feedback, and eventually they end up to be in our portfolio.”
We also had the chance to speak with Senior Manager of Product Development for Mopar Chris Nowak, who explained a little more about the Sand Trooper and what vehicles like this allow them to do as a team.
“This is really an exercise in us developing our Jeep performance off-road parts, so we started this as a 2012 JK, [a] bone-stock vehicle, and we updated it with a 5.7-liter crate engine and married it with our portal axles, which in this vehicle we have a 4.1:1 center differential, and the portal axles offer additional gear reduction in each wheel of 1.5:1.
“This is also an opportunity for us to showcase some of our prototype parts. We’ve got some really unique bead-lock wheels that we are looking into. These bead-lock wheels are 8-lugged in nature and hold these massive 42-inch tires which, together with the portal axles, give this thing some awesome ground clearance. We’ve got prototype skid plates that we’re looking at and also the front bumper is our look into the future of what our next-generation bumpers might feature.”
Having worked within Chrysler for decades, Nowak has a great perspective of the development and engineering sides of the business. It also helps bridge the gap between the product development teams on the Jeep and Mopar brands.
“I have a pretty deep background with Jeep engineering. I have 28 years with Chrysler and one year with Mopar now,” he said. “Collectively we’re working a lot closer as a team, and when you look at all of that product knowledge within the company and pulling it all together, and developing some of the fun pieces that in reality the production guys really want to develop, we get to have a lot of fun and a lot of direction from a lot of people to offer some really cool things.”
It was great to get a closer look at these unique vehicles and spend some time with Mopar representatives. We’re looking forward to whatever they come up with next, and we’re hoping for a chance to get behind the wheel of some of Mopar’s creations at the Easter Jeep Safari in 2013. For more information on Mopar, visit http://www.mopar.com/.
More Mopar Jeep Stories
2012 Easter Jeep Safari Mopar
Sand Trooper Specs – What Makes it so Cool
There’s more than just the HEMI V-8 engine conversion and portal axles in the Mopar Sand Trooper. Check out some of the parts on this vehicle:
PERFORMANCE & ENGINE
HEMI V-8 5.7-liter Conversion Kit (P5156213)
Portal Axles (P5155670)
Rear Axle (P5155671)
Mopar 8-Lug Beadlock Wheels – Prototype
Full-Length Underbody Skid Plate - Prototype
All-Weather Slush Mats (part no. 82210164AC)
Katzkin Leather Interior (part no. LTHROCS2DI)
Under-Seat Locking Storage (82213770)
Center Console Locking Storage (82213769)
Locking Below-Floor Storage Box (82213771)
Mopar CB Radio – Prototype
Half Doors (82212124)
Warn Winch (82209325AD)
Vented Hood (P5155351)
Mopar Flat Fenders (BWF10918)
LED Off-Road Lights (82213472)
Rock Rails (82210586)
Black Fuel Filler Door (82210285AB)
Black Tail Lamp Guards (82210270AC)
Matte Black Grille (82213772)
Black Door Sill Guards (82210104)
Trailer Tow Hitch Receiver (82210230)
Jeep Authentic Accessories Badge (82211201)
Locking Fuel Cap (68030940AA)
Stinger Front Bumper (Prototype)
LED Headlamps (Prototype)
Grab Handles & Coat Hanger (82207660AB)
Reverse Camera Feature (Prototype)
Hood Lock (82210464AB)