You want a Jeep Wrangler pickup truck? Build it yourself. That's Chrysler's message Thursday at it revealed six custom Jeeps, plus the Mopar Wrangler and a Mopar Ram 1500 Ford Raptor-fighter.
Good as the custom Jeeps look, they're eye candy, or at best aftermarket projects for well-heeled off-roaders. Let's begin with the stuff you can buy.
Jeep JK8 Independence
If you're quick and have a garage full of the right tools, you can build a Wrangler pickup out of a Wrangler Unlimited, in your garage over a weekend, Jim Sassorossi, sales chief for the Mopar parts division, insists. The pickup is based on the New Kaiser show Jeep from a couple of years ago. All you need to do is remove and replace a few body panels and rear seat parts, cut the Unlimited's roll bar, and voila! ...The pickup Jeepsters have been waiting for. The bed is 50 inches long by 44 inches wide (between the wheel wells). The new body panels cover the second row entrance. The new JK-8 show truck shows off a Mopar/Dynatrac ProRock 44 front axle, stock Dana 44 rear and 4.88 gears, a 4.5-inch long-arm suspension kit and 37-inch Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2 tires. The JK-8 kit gets you a bed floor, inner/outer body panels, half hardtop and a new bulkhead. No list price yet, but it goes on sale later this summer. Makes you wonder why Jeep doesn't build one itself.
Mopar Ram Runner
This is another package deal. It works with 2009-11 Ram 1500s, and goes on sale after the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari later this month, for $19,000 on top of the price of the truck. It includes a pre-runner stage II lift kit, and off-road front bumper, rear tire carrier and front and rear fenders.