The Mopar Underground design team showcased a new military-themed customized Jeep at the 43rd annual Moab Jeep Safari 2009.
Overseen by Mark Allen, Chief Designer—Jeep/Truck Design Studio, Chrysler LLC, the Mopar Underground design team has been customizing production vehicles since its creation in 2002 and has introduced 14 Jeep concept vehicles to enthusiast crowds at Moab Jeep Safari.
“These vehicles are built with pride and passion for the Jeep brand by a small group of dedicated engineers, designers and fabricators to explore and demonstrate the many facets of off-roading,” Allen said.
The Mopar Underground design team creates vehicle concepts, which are meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization, as well as new vehicle concepts. In fact, the first-generation Dodge SRT4 was born from this team’s style initiative.
“Moab Jeep Safari provides a great venue and works as a proving ground to test Jeep vehicle concepts driven alongside Jeep brand enthusiasts, who can provide immediate feedback at the event,” Allen said. “As a result, we use knowledge gained at this off-road event to explore new directions for Jeep platforms and to develop Mopar Performance Parts and Accessories to suit these vehicles.”
The “J8 Sarge” is a military version of the new Jeep Wrangler platform, built as a non-combat military support vehicle. Built from the 116-inch wheelbase version, the “J8 Sarge” is offered in either two-door or four-door configurations. Special J8-only structural upgrades in the body and chassis combine to increase the GVWR rating to 7,400 pounds.
The platform can be configured as a light-troop carrier, ambulance or cargo truck. Other notable features include the Dana 60 rear axle mounted on leaf springs, larger front-disc brakes and exclusive J8-only 17-inch x 8-inch steel wheels with a larger 5-inch x 5.5-inch bolt pattern. The rear differential is equipped with Trac-Lok limited slip device/differential (the front is open).
The powertrain is a VM Motori S.p.A. 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 158 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The four-wheel-drive system is the Command-Trac® with both high and low-range gearing.
Other features unique to the “J8 Sarge” are heavy-duty steel bumpers each equipped with two forged military-spec 'helicopter hooks' (rated at 1.5 GVWR each), a hood-mounted air-intake snorkel, dual rear-mounted battery boxes and heavy-duty spring hood latches.
The “J8 Sarge” has been upgraded with 1.25-inch Superlift front coil spacers, 35-inch tires and custom cargo top. It’s painted Olive Drab with military markings. The “J8 Sarge” is manufactured in a Chrysler LLC joint-venture facility in Cairo and premiered at Moab Jeep Safari 2008.