What do you do when you stop making the Viper but have a lot of seats left in inventory? You put a bunch of them into concepts headed to the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, otherwise known as SEMA.
The tuner extravaganza gets underway in Vegas starting November 1. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has six specially built and another 14 Mopar-modified vehicles on display at the massive automotive aftermarket trade show that brings together automakers, dealers, specialty equipment distributors, installers, retailers, and restoration specialists.
“SEMA for us is a big deal,” said Pietro Gorlier, head of Parts and Service (Mopar) which saw 15 percent growth in 2015 in the U.S. and is evidence that customers still customize their vehicles to make them stand out from the ones in the neighbor’s driveway. He says 230,000 vehicles went through the automaker’s 11 custom shops in North America and Brazil last year. And for those who order everything from wheels to floor mats and roof racks, there are 52 parts distribution centers around the world, including 20 in North America.
Here are the concepts FCA will have on display at SEMA this year:
Dodge Durango Shaker
Yes, there’s a Hemi in it, making this the muscle car of SUVs complete with a Durango-first custom-made version of the Challenger’s Shaker hood to feed the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 mated to an eight-speed transmission. This modified three-row SUV also has Hellcat front brakes, dual exhausts under the center of the vehicle, was lowered three inches, and has a new front end minus the crosshair grille to allow more air in.
But the standout here: inside are six—two rows of three—Viper seats.
The Durango Shaker rides on concept Satin Black 22×10.5-inch Mopar wheels and has custom fender flares and sill kit, said Joe Dehner, head of design for the Mopar and Ram brands.
This is a mashup of three generations of Jeep Wrangler. It started with the body of a 1966 Jeep Wrangler CJ Universal Tuxedo Park with its awkward narrow track and added a Wrangler TJ frame and JK lamps, bumpers, and other elements.
It is shown in a “copper canyon” finish with big 35-inch BFG all-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels and yes, Viper seats. The Jeep has a customized full roll cage, integrated fuel cap, air compressor and oversized fender flares that are purely conceptual to compensate for the vehicle’s narrow track. The windshield was cut down by 2 inches. While the badging on the concept says V-8, execs are not talking about what’s under the hood quite yet—come back to Motor Trend later today for more engine details.
Fun fact: Most Jeep buyers spend $150 on at least one accessory, according to Gorlier.
Dodge Shakedown Challenger
This black-on-black-on-black 1971 Challenger has a 2017 front end grafted on, giving it the Shaker hood scoop and current headlights. The classic also received modern taillamps in the rear. The hood kit feeds more fresh air to the Hemi which sends 485 hp through the Viper six-speed transmission. This show also has Viper front seats.
The custom Challenger rides on concept SRT Hellcat Slingshot-designed 19×9.5-inch front and 20×9.5-inch rear wheels. To go from unibody to a body-on-frame vehicle, the removable body sits on a hand-built chassis, said Dehner. The custom suspension was lowered for better drifting. There are integrated bumpers and parts such as door handles and the fuel door have been shaved off for a clean but menacing look. If this is to be a track vehicle, opt for the custom roll bar and delete the rear seats.
Last year the average Challenger buyer spent up to $1,000 on accessories, said Gorlier.
Ram ProMaster Pit Stop
Open the hinged door on the side of this Ram 3500 ProMaster commercial van to reveal the bar inside with a drop-down counter and four different beers on tap, neon signs, LED interior lighting, and Mopar bar stools that can be stored inside.
The concept rides on 20-inch wheels set in a wider track and the overall appearance is enhanced with body-colored fascia and a unique crosshair grille in the front.
Ram Macho Power Wagon
Based on the updated 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon coming soon, this “macho mango” truck has an aftermarket lift kit and a concept-only new front end and a “hairy-chested hood” with more vents, said Dehner.
The macho truck has oversized concept wheel flares, giant 37×12.5-inch Nitto Trail Grappler MT tires on concept 18-inch beadlock wheels and much-needed one-piece running boards given that the truck was raised a further 4 inches.
It has a visually cool sport hoop behind the cab and a RamRack in the back of the bed that slides forward and stows out of the way when not needed. Adding to the look are the exposed tow hooks and exhaust tips.
Inside are calfskin leather seats, a Mopar pedal kit and all-weather mats.
At SEMA, executives want to gauge reaction to the concept wheels which are functional and could end up in the Mopar catalog. The rack is also a concept under consideration, said Todd Beddick, Mopar’s senior manager of accessories and performance portfolio.
Chrysler Pacifica Cadence
This minivan can handle a stand-up paddleboard inside or out with roof racks and lots of interior space. The concept has stock paint and a custom Mopar graphic wrap, stock 20-inch wheels with a custom finish, and a new Mopar running board that looks like it was an original part of the vehicle.
To get the paddleboard inside—or pet kennels that fit into the fold-flat floor—there is a kick wave sensor in the back, available through Mopar’s custom shops, available through Mopar’s custom shops that are small outfitters in nine U.S. cities and do installation at the time of the vehicle order with the work built into the sticker price. The Cadence comes with a voucher for a wireless phone charger case that charges the phone when placed in a special tray.
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