Jeep has been on a roll with concept vehicles this year, and this week they rolled one straight off the assembly line to commemorate their 75th Anniversary, the Jeep Wrangler Salute.
The Salute didn’t reach far into the future as a lot of concepts do, but instead to the past to celebrate the very start of the brand as a military grade GI that cut its teeth in World War II. And building it wasn’t that hard either, as today’s Jeep Wrangler hasn’t strayed far from the original.
Based on a new jeep Wrangler, the Salute loses a lot of trim, B-pillars, the roll bar and gets cut down low-back seats to give it the bare bones vibe of the original Willys MB. A matte Olive drab paint job, 16-inch steel wheels and military tread 32-inch tires do the rest.
Simple steel beam bumpers with hooks and the appropriate graphics along with a rear-mounted spare tire, hood latches and original style rear-view mirrors are indeed a Salute to the very beginnings of the Jeep Wrangler we know today.
Making this concept vehicle special is the fact that it was built right on the assembly line with production Jeep Wranglers on what said to be a pretty busy day. Other than some prepared parts and components, the assembly took place right in sequence with the others.
This means the Jeep Salute Concept is mechanically identical to a production Wrangler with its 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 and a six-speed manual transmission. Even the steering wheel and air-bag are stock, something the original certainly didn’t have.
I gotta say, being a bit of a Jeep enthusiast I really like this thing as well as the Shortcut Concept they showed just last spring that wasn’t far kin in its overall theme. The Shortcut was also as stripped down Wrangler, this one with a shorter wheelbase and a plain wrapper style.
Jeep has been doing a lot of bare-bones, steel wheeled retro style concepts in the last year or so and it lend one to think a production model with this kind of vibe could be on the way. While they’ve always offered up special editions, they haven’t quite gone this direction yet.
And while I’m not a marketing and product development guy anymore, I really believe Jeep could do well to reach down market again with a less expensive entry level Wrangler.
Four-wheel ATV’s and side-by-sides are seeing a major surge in population and pricing that is approaching base level Wranglers. The brand might be smart to bridge the gap a little.
An all new family of Wranglers is coming soon, time will tell.