Blend a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a 1968 Jeepster Commando and what do you get? A throwback that epitomizes why you build concept vehicles. I have to imagine it was as much fun for the designers, as it was the fabricators, and the PR team that gets to display them this week at Easter Jeep Safari.
The second-generation Jeepster Commando body has been masterfully tailored to fit a current model Jeep JK chassis. Everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Using the original chrome trim from the Jeepster is a bit of pure nostalgia, and it does make you think ‘what if’ Jeep had continued to produce this iconic two-door. The Jeepster had a certain sportiness, and an empire blue one that sat in front of Randall AMC-Jeep in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona certainly caught my eye.
On the update, someone on the design team or one of Jeep’s PR mavens is a craft beer aficionado, tabbing the colors as hazy IPA and zinc oxide. According to mrbeer.com, hazy IPAs are known for their tropical, juicy, hop flavor and aroma, and smooth mouth feel. This golden color on the Jeepster Beach concept approximates what you see if you poured a Rogue Newport Daze into a frosty glass. The angular rear fascia or tailgate panel is what gives the Commando a look of its own, then and now.
In case you’re wondering, there’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with custom calibration that increases the engine output about 25 percent above any production version to 340 HP and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, proprietary information that Jeep doesn’t share with the automotive aftermarket. The twin-scroll, low-inertia turbocharger is mounted directly to the cylinder head, along with a cooling circuit for the turbo, intake air, and throttle body for added responsiveness, performance, and fuel economy. An eight-speed automatic transmission is mated to a 4:1 transfer case. The Jeepster rolls on 35-inch tires, adding a bit of aggression not present on the AMC original.
Removing the JK’s rear seat leaves plenty of cargo room, and in this case space for a chromed roll bar. The Jeepster Beach renderings show a topless version, but I’d like to see either a removable hardtop similar to that of the original Chevy Blazer, or a convertible soft top. Both tops were offered on the original Jeep Commando, and following their styling would be the finishing touch on a very appealing design exercise. Removal of the carpeting, and use of rub strips on the cargo area is also reminiscent of the short deck that closed out the space between the convertible top and body.
Red leather seating, door trim panels, and center console seem a little out of place on a true beach cruiser, but this could be the fantasy of designers who only get to the beach a few days a year, and don’t quite understand the need for drainage holes in the Jeep’s floor. A vinyl interior would be more in keeping with the hosed-down attitude of a true beach cruiser. Overall, it’s a concept we’d like to see Jeep put into production.