The Jeep Icon – A 90’s Concept Car That Almost Became Wranglers Adopted Little Brother

I remember, as a kid in the 70’s, looking at pictures of concept cars and feeling a sense of exhilaration at the oddly obvious wedge-shaped styling that seemed to dominate that era. While I’m not a fan of driving a car that so closely resembles a doorstop, I think these styling trends transferred into some really beautiful designs like the DeTomaso Pantera and the Lamborghini Countach, both of which had large images that adorned the walls of my bedroom for the better part of my youth.

Photo Credit: JeepForum.com

Photo Credit: JeepForum.com

 

I then remember, as an adult in the mid-90’s, when an odd little Jeep concept vehicle made its inaugural appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and the strong sense of disdain I felt for what was being presented to the masses as a possible design path for the Wrangler. We had just survived a generation of Jeeps that donned rectangular headlights in the Wrangler YJ and were inversely giddy with enthusiasm over the return of the iconic round headlights in the new Wrangler TJ. How had we come to this? Chrysler is going to boldly present this new concept to us and even be so daring as to name it “Icon”? As if having ‘Melrose Place’ on your TV at every turn was not punishment enough. We had somehow come to this…

The Jeep Icon was, from the outside and at a long distance, not far-removed from the venerable Wrangler and CJ’s of the past, with its federally-mandated 7-slot grill, round headlights and open roof design. It’s what lurked just beyond that first glance that seemed to cause the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Chrysler Senior Designer Robert Lester declared that the inspiration for the ‘Icon’ was drawn from elements found in high-end mountain bikes. These words were not completely wasted on me as I was likely to be shopping for such a mountain bike in the near future, as an alternative to driving the new Icon.  While the designers felt that adorning the vehicles body with gratuitous Jeep logos at every turn would be a reasonable penance for the rest of the Icon, it felt more like an attempt to remind you that this was an actual Jeep, a mission made even more important by the misplaced independent front suspension, industrialized car-like interior and wheels that were clearly repurposed from a Camaro RS. Maybe this could be a baby Grand Cherokee, but definitely NOT a Jeep.

Photo Credit: allpar.com

Photo Credit: allpar.com

 

Despite the tepid response from the press and media, the Icon was still being heralded as the next generation in Jeep styling but with the added corporate spin of its intended purpose not-so-much-being a replacement for the Wrangler, but more a smaller platform to serve as direct competition for the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. As of 1998, there were patents filed for the Icon under the Jeep JJ platform and the likelihood of its making it to actual production seemed imminent.  The Icon would feature four cylinder drivetrain borrowed from Chrysler cars and would find its segway into the American market as a Jeep for beginners and would be utilized, to a greater extent, in Third World markets. Approximately 60 vehicles were built as prototypes and were able to meet all of the quality and durability standards as mandated by Chrysler. The problem with the JJ Icon came when the vehicle was being tested for its “Trail Rated’ badge.

In order to proclaim the Jeep name, a certain amount of off-road prowess must be displayed. The JJ was limited to a fairly small diameter of tire due to its independent front suspension and limited body clearance. Although the Icon easily outperformed its small off-road market counterparts, it was unable to successfully negotiate the famed Rubicon Trail without the assistance of a tow rope which fostered serious concern over whether the JJ was a TRUE Jeep, a blemish that seemed to match the sentiment of the mass majority and the project was subsequently scrubbed. The 60 some-odd prototypes never left the confines of the assembly plant and were likely destroyed. Senior Designer of the Jeep Icon, Robert Laster, moved on to a lengthy stint at Ford Motor Company in 1998, where he aided in both interior and exterior design making significant contributions to the automotive realm with cars like the fabled Ford Figo and the Ford Ka (You can’t make stuff like this up) that are each icons in their own intended market places of China and South America. I can’t help but think that the original objective of the Jeep Icon may have been to lend Jeeps legendary off-road persona to a smaller fuel-efficient mode of transport that would largely appeal to an overseas market with the benefit of its greater capability, while not completely alienating the grass-roots customer base, who were likely left hoping for something more; many of the Jeep faithful would likely have been left with a dazed look, scratching their heads and wondering what just happened. The Icons compromising of its core values in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience was at the core of its undoing, which left me with a renewed faith in humanity and a reassurance that Jeep may have some reluctance to ever try and market a Jeep blessed with the spirit of a mountain bike. I’ll carry my ‘spirit of a mountain bike’ on a bike carrier on the back of my Jeep where it belongs, Thanks!

Photo Credit: CarblogIndia.com

Photo Credit: CarblogIndia.com

 

Despite its demise, it’s easy to see that many of the design characteristics of the Icon concept have undoubtedly made it to production in platforms such as the Jeep Liberty and Compass/Patriot, and I, for one, feel much more excited about the future of Jeep based on the upcoming Wrangler JL and the handful of current concepts we’ve seen recently, like the Shortcut concept that made the rounds last year- Maybe even enough to hang some posters on my wall!  OlllllllO

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Assessing My Need for a Four-Wheel Drive Time Machine

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Is anyone else growing weary of today’s political circus? Not to say that politics today are any flakier than they have been in the past but we are certainly positioned as helpless victims by a media that is relentless in their delivery of the headlines, appropriately skewed to an angle that is in line with networks values. It is enough to make me want to go back in time; back to a time when we didn’t have an entire world of information at our fingertips. Can’t we just go back to the days when Chuck Norris was responsible for keeping the bad guys in-check? It wasn’t that long ago that our nation’s highest-ranking elected leader drove a Jeep CJ with a manual transmission and shared the ride with a trusted golden retriever named ‘Victory’. Those were the days…

We live in a truly incredible world today, one that seems to have advanced so rapidly by developing technology that I often wonder what we may have lost in the transition. We can go online and purchase an automobile, arrange financing without having to shake a banker’s hand and have it delivered without ever leaving the house. We even flock to purchase cars that are called “hybrids”, a term which used to have a less-than-desirable meaning not that long ago. We are literally raising a society of children that drive around carelessly in their cars in an attempt to capture imaginary cartoon characters that appear only on the high-definition displays of their expensive smartphones but have never had the experience of having to locate a desolate payphone late at night, scrape together coins from the gooey ashtray of a meager-excuse-for-a-first-car just so they can call their parents to tell them they are going to miss curfew. Heck, they probably can’t comprehend the need for this thing you call a… “Payphone”? So, what has changed??

Photo Credit: Four Wheeler Network

Photo Credit: Four Wheeler Network

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he had already established himself as a political figure to be reckoned with. He had previously made two runs for the office of President, in ’68 and again in ’76. He was not familiar, in any way, with the word QUIT. I kind of like to think that the word ‘quit’ wasn’t even established in his vocabulary. Despite having failed to as much as make the Republican ticket in 1976, losing out to a soon-to-be ousted incumbent Gerald Ford, he went on to become, what was at that time, the oldest man to ever be elected to the office of President in 1980. At the spry 69 years of age, Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter to become the 40th President of the United States, an achievement not easily attained by those who spend their time frivolously.

Then in 1981, just 69 days into his first term as president, Reagan fell victim to an assassination attempt outside of a Washington, D.C. hotel at the hands of one, John Hinckley Jr. – a guy whose infatuation with a movie star proved to be more than he could deal with. Nonetheless, a ricochet shot to the old noggin from a small caliber handgun was not enough to deter a man such as Reagan. You see, Ronald Wilson Reagan had a humble upbringing and it showed in the manner in which he approached life. While Presidents are often captured on film being chauffeured around in bullet-proof limos, Reagan looked most himself behind the wheel of one of his Jeeps navigating through a pasture on his farm in beautiful Rancho del Cielo, CA.

Photo Credit: Fox News

Photo Credit: Fox News

His favorite Jeep was an old, rickety ’62 CJ6 that his loving wife Nancy had given to him as a Christmas present back in 1963. Reagan was known to put the Jeep through its paces regularly in any number of projects around the farm. This was in no way a show truck but rather a bona fide workhorse that shared in its owner’s belief that there is invaluable greatness in simplicity. There’s no automatic transmission or power windows here, only a PTO-driven winch and rigid place to sit, but only long enough to catch your breath before you get back to work. To know that the former president often referred to his ranch home as “heaven” (or at least in the same zip code, he would joke), it’s clear that Jeeps were considered an essential component to his own perception of happiness; uncomplicated, imperfect, somewhat unsightly but absolutely essential.

Photo Credit: Jp Magazine

Photo Credit: Jp Magazine

Ronald Reagan’s ‘other’ Jeep was much more of a head-turner- a 1983 Jeep CJ8 Scrambler that he called “The Gipper”. Another gift from his wife Nancy, this sky blue Scrambler seemed much more suited for hauling the leader of the free world around than clearing trails on the back forty acres. Ironically, when Reagan hosted Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the ranch in 1992, Reagan wasted no time in dressing Gorbachev in an obligatory cowboy hat and wheeled him around the ranch. At the close of the Cold War when Reagan made his renowned declaration “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, something tells me that Gorbachev knew deep down that if he didn’t tear it down, Reagan and his trusty CJ probably would have hooked up a winch line and done it themselves. That’s just how a Jeep owner thinks.

While I would like to proclaim that Jeep had a gigantic part in ending the Cold War, I can’t. The truth is more likely found in the simple premise that a genuine Jeep-loving American patriot, who held steadfastly to his ideals and convictions, played a much larger role. Heck, we didn’t even need to break out Chuck Norris to get it done after all!

Photo Credit: RaysJeeps.net

Photo Credit: RaysJeeps.net

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August 2016 Monthly Update

XHD Hub Centric Wheels 17×8.5″


Ready to upgrade your stock wheels but still want to use the tread that’s left of your stock tires? Now you can have both! Unlike our XHD 17×9 wheels, these Euro-spec 17×8.5 wheels allow you to mount either your stock tires or upgraded Off Road tires. So instead of throwing out your slightly used stock tires, think Green and remount them on these new style XHD wheels. It can literally save you thousands of miles!

These wheels are designed to exactly center the wheel over the hub providing the best t possible and the proper clearance for brake rotors, steering components and suspension. Better, no wheel vibration! A stainless steel button-head socket cap screws around the perimeter of the outer wheel face, giving it a great 3-piece look, and allowing you to accessorize with our optional rim protector. Each wheel includes a modular center cap. A durable powder coated nish offers a long lasting look. These Rugged Ridge wheels have been independently tested to meet/exceed the requirements for SAE J2530 and the even more stringent TUV standards. Backspacing is 5.17 inch with a +10mm offset.

 

Part Numbers Description Price
XHD Wheel, Satin Black, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep® Wrangler JK/JKU
$307.99
XHD Wheel, Gunmetal, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep® Wrangler JK/JKU
$307.99

D-Shackles Yellow

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Add some flare to your ride with our yellow powder coated D-shackles. This bright yellow will stand out against your bumper. Available in either 7/8 Inch or 3/4 Inch with 13,500 and 9,500 Working Load Limit respectively. Sold in pairs.

Part Number Description Price
11235.14
D-Shackles, 7/8-Inch, Yellow, Pair
$46.99
11235.15
D-Rings, 3/4-Inch, Yellow, Pair
$32.99

Grand Cherokee Exterior Accessories

Looking to dress up and protect your Jeep Grand Cherokee? Rugged Ridge has the accessories to make your Grand Cherokee unique. We are introducing a line of accessories from grille & bumper guards to side steps. Of course, each comes with a 5 year limited warranty.

Part Numbers Description Price
Grille Guard, Black, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
$560.99
Rear Bumper Guard, Black, Double Tube, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $334.99
Running Board, Polished Aluminum Trim, 69-inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
$360.99
Running Board, Black, 69-inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $467.99
Side Step, Round, 3-Inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $320.99
Side Step, Oval, Tubular, 4-inch, Black, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $311.99
Bull Bar, Black, 3-Inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $239.99

Jeep Heritage Expo

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Omix-ADA hosted it’s inaugural Jeep Heritage Expo, celebrating 75 years of Jeep.

For the first time ever Omix-ADA opened up its doors to the public. It gave the public a rare look into it’s 230,000 square feet facility where more than 20,000 Omix-ADA brand parts are developed and house. Omix-ADA’s complete vintage and historic Jeep Collection were on display as well featuring more than 30 of the worlds rarest Jeeps to the public.

The event also featured a Jeep Show & Shine that benefited the American Diabetes Association. 100 percent of the vehicle entry fees were donated to the American Diabetes Association.

In addition, there were a number of activities for children and families, including remote control Jeep races, carnival games, giveaways and more. Food was available onsite from the region’s top food trucks.

Check out the gallery below!

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November 2015 Monthly Update

Hurricane Fender Flares for TJ and LJ

The Rugged Ridge Hurricane Flat Fender Flares feature a unique double bolt pocket as a modern spin on classic pocket flare styling. Engineered for both form and function, the fender flare’s unique shape complements the Wrangler’s rugged looks and lines, while mounting high up on the fender for extra clearance for oversized wheels and tires and thereby offering 2.89 –inch more tire coverage and 1-inch more tire clearance over similar OE designs. Each flare features a 2-inch larger wheel opening allowing for larger wheel/tire combos. Each 6.68-inch wide fender flare is constructed from durable black injection molded thermoplastic that can be painted or left unfinished. The Hurricane Flat Fender Flares come complete with a set of durable black corrosion resistant fasteners. Patent pending.

Part numbers: 11640.30

XHD Diesel Snorkel Kit

 

The XHD Modular Snorkel is the first snorkel engineered with the versatility of interchangeable intake heights. By relocating the vulnerable stock air intake through an internal duct system just below the windshield, the XHD Modular Snorkel helps to eliminate dust-clogged air filters and the risk of hydro-locking your engine. Each snorkel is also engineered to function with a host of other Rugged Ridge products, including its Windshield Mount Light Bar, Windshield Auxiliary Light Mounting Brackets, Sherpa Roof Rack, and the new Exo-TopTM System. Installation requires only minor modifications to the internal fender flange and avoids any cutting or drilling to the Jeep’s exterior that other snorkel kits may require. Patent Nos. 8,960,347, D687071, D687,072

Part numbers: 17756.04, 17756.23, 17756.24

Ultimate Grab Handles in Pink

13505.01_lifestyle2

 

Ready to rock, but in a brand new color? These pink ultimate grab handles from Rugged Ridge not only add a nice accent to your Jeep’s interior, but will give an instant boost in style that’s sure to stand out! Each grab handle is custom designed for the model of your Jeep to ensure a proper fit. Attaches in seconds with tough hook and loop fasteners.

Part number: 13505.01

Boulder Differential Cover

16595.12_alt1
The new matte black Rugged Ridge Boulder Aluminum Differential Covers are constructed from A356-T6 cast aluminum for strong impact resistance and feature a precision machined sealing surface, allowing gaskets or RTV sealant to be used for a leak-free seal. Each cover is designed to help protect internal components from damage caused by contact with rocks and other terrain off-road as well as aid in dissipating heat from differentials. These covers also come complete with a magnetic drain plug for protection against costly damage from metal particles that can accumulate in gear oil and include a specially designed dipstick bolt to help Jeep owners avoid under or overfilling their differentials. Patent pending.

Part number: 16595.12, 16595.13

Join the Rugged Ridge Facebook Fan Page!!!

Rugged Ridge Jeep Fan Page So we got a fan page, and we have lots of friends, but we want more… We want you! Sign up today so you can get up-to-date information on Rugged Ridge like product releases, discounts, rebates, contests, Jeep builds, and cool photos. You can hang out with more than 700 other Rugged Ridge Fans, Dealers, and Jeep enthusiasts from all over the world. While you are there you can make new friends, share pictures of your rig, plan a trail ride or even tell us what you want us to design/build next. You could even win a trip to SEMA! Check us out at: http://www.facebook.com/RuggedRidge

Rugged Ridge JK Intake/Exhaust Dyno Tested

jeep wragler jk dyno test

When we say we test our parts we weren’t playing around.  We took one of our Wrangler projects to Batlground Engineering for dyno testing.  Batlground is one of the hottest motorsport shops in the southeast known for their drag racing and drifting. Almost new this 2009 Jeep Wrangler 4dr, with 1600 miles, got our Rugged Ridge ORV 4″ Lift Kit and our Black Rugged Ridge Wheels with machined lip wrapped in 35″ Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar provided by TreaDepot.com before we did the test.  So depending on application and wheel/tire package your numbers could vary.  If you have a newer JK Wrangler with 3.8L you know the motor is a dog and when you add an offroad wheel/tire package it just gets worse.  So we wanted to know exactly how much wheel power we were putting to the ground and what performance gains we could expect from our intake/exhaust.


STOCK – Power = 145.87 Torque = 150.75
INTAKE – Power = 153.89 Torque = 158.37
INTAKE & EXHAUST – Power = 163.45 Torque = 167.69

GAINS – Power = 17.58 Torque = 17.69


Join the Rugged Ridge Facebook Fan Page!!!

Rugged Ridge Jeep Fan Page So we got a fan page, and we have lots of friends, but we want more… We want you!  Sign up today so you can get up-to-date information on Rugged Ridge like product releases, discounts, rebates, contests,  Jeep builds, and cool photos. You can hang out with more than 700 other Rugged Ridge Fans, Dealers, and Jeep enthusiasts from all over the world.  While you are there you can make new friends, share pictures of your rig, plan a trail ride or even tell us what you want us to design/build next. You could even win a trip to SEMA! Check us out at: http://www.facebook.com/RuggedRidge


Rugged Ridge Jeeps and Girls!

So I get a lot of emails and it is hard to read everything that comes through sometimes, but when I get an email that says “Subject:  Jeeps and Girls Photo Shoot”…   I was sold – didn’t need to read it just sign me up!

A local photographer contacted us to use a few our Jeep Wranglers in a photo shoot with some swimsuit models. He is working on an car calendar and wanted to feature some offroad shots using a few of the built Rugged Ridge Jeeps. For some reason it wasn’t very hard to find guys willing to lend him their rigs for the day. These are some test shots we were sent from the initial shoot. Don’t worry there will be more pics to come as this was first round and we are currently scheduling a multistage shoot for this project.



If you like Girls and Cars you need to check out SEMA 2010 Click the Image Below and Register to Win a Free Trip to Las Vegas!!!