All those of a semi-slick disposition have the Nürburgring Nordschleife at their disposal, merely a one-way public road in Germany’s Rhineland about 20km long, numbering some 170 corners.
’Ring lap times are an industry yardstick for sportscars of all shapes and sizes, and these days the seven-minute mark isn’t even the magic number any more. We’re already talking about hypercars like Aston Martin’s Valkyrie co-developed with the F1 minds of Red Bull, comfortably breaking into the sixes. Lamborghini, with the Huracán Performante, and Porsche with the 918 Spyder, have already clocked in sub-seven minute laps.
Anyone who sets a time at the ’Ring is guaranteed headlines, likes and YouTube views, and the Nürburgring measurement has become arguably more important than cold bhp and kW figures… The marketing value of ’Ring lap times is also perhaps even higher than the technical value the place offers by honing cars into serious track machines. They say if it’s fast at the Nürburgring, it’s fast everywhere.
The knobbly rubbered folk, however, couldn’t care less. The only standard off-roading types know is Moab, a protected area of Utah in the US, moulded by nature into the ultimate 4x4 playground. The sand and stone surface provides offroading trails that require serious credentials, and for every Fox Hole at the Nürburgring, and every Flugplatz and Karussell corner and Pflanzgarten, the Moab serves up trails with names like Poison Spider Mesa, Hell’s Revenge, Metal Masher, Helldorado, Cliff Hanger, Steel Bender, Strike Ravine..
Even though manufacturers such as Nissan and Toyota show up for events and press gigs at Moab, it’s Jeep that takes the place most seriously, putting on an Easter special every year in the form of a Moab Safari. The nine-day long tour started in 1967, and for the 51st-anniversary edition, Jeep has prepared a host of concept vehicles for the off-roading faithful in Utah, as it does every year.
Jeep boss Mike Manley says the concepts will all perform in the Safari to test their fettle and judge enthusiast response. As usual, Jeep used an array of production and prototype parts on the concept vehicles, calling in Chrysler’s performance arm Mopar to develop the bits and pieces that make these Jeeps supremely capable off-road.
The Jeep Switchback concept is a realistic production proposition because it is simply outfitted with the entire shopping list of Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts, such as beefy Dana axles front and rear, special Fox shocks and a 4.0in lift and heavy-duty everything including a winch.
With the CJ66, the Jeep team had some fun using a previous-generation Wrangler TJ frame and putting a 1966 Jeep CJ body on it — they made the combo even sweeter with a 5.7-litre Hemi V8, finishing it off with a cabin wrapped in a custom-made roll cage and bikini top.
We’ve heard of wood-bodied cars, and even leather-bodied cars, but Jeep’s Safari concept brings the outdoors inside with clear vinyl doors hinged so they open like a cabinet, and featuring zippers for that real Safari feeling, but little bear protection.
Jeep Grand One
The Jeep Grand One celebrates the 25th anniversary of the 1993 ZJ generation Grand Cherokee with a resto-mod vehicle featuring 18in wheels inside 33in mud tyres. The interior features more Nineties-style materials and colour choices to complete the period look, and a 5.2-litre V8 drives the wheels via a four-speed automatic.
Based on the Jeep Compass, the Trailpass concept is a slightly more interesting take on this school-run crossover, adding a 1.5in lift kit and all-terrain tyres to the mix, plus a bunch of body trim and stickers that aren’t actually worth two seconds a lap.
A Jeep for the cover of Hot Rod magazine, the Quicksand is a loud and fast off-road racer fitted with a Hemi V8 and a Getrag manual transmission, plus old-school drag racing-style downturned open headers and a chopped roof. It’s safe to say, no matter how positive enthusiasts’ reaction, Jeep won’t put the Quicksand into production.
Basically a floodlight on wheels, the Jeep Luminator attacks night trails with a full array of lighting equipment everywhere, including A-pillar-mounted LEDs, and more lights mounted to the bumpers, on the bonnet, and behind the windshield. Then they ran out of LEDs and put a drone landing pad on top of the thing for kicks.