PORK CHOP

As an exercise in weight savings, Jeep took a new two-door Wrangler and pulled every possible ounce, or bit of "pork," out of the vehicle, including the doors, roof, bumpers, tailgate, brackets, and seats, and then engineers rebuilt what had to stay. The fuel tank was replaced with a smaller aluminum unit, the front and rear axles were modified for weight savings without sacrificing strength, and the interior was stripped of all non-essentials. Add to that a lightweight seat frame, modified fender flares, and a 2-inch "chop" to the front windshield, and the end result is a V-6-motivated vehicle that weighs almost 1000 pounds less. Of course with less weight, the engine feels a lot more powerful and does a much better job of turning the 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tires on old-school E-T Vintage V wheels.

The vehicle does have a 2-inch suspension lift, Bilstein reservoir shocks, and 4.88:1 gears, and from what we experienced, this little crawler will climb nearly anything. Nimble doesn't begin to describe the wheel feel and control. Losing this much weight, especially if you have a small driver behind the wheel, gives the Wrangler jump and spring when shooting through the dunes that we've never felt from a Jeep. And the sound it makes -- thanks in large part to Banks custom headers -- was impressive as well. We hope some of these weight-saving tricks make their way into future vehicles, as fuel economy continues to be a sensitive issue.