2016 Jeep Crew Chief 715
Paying tribute to the Kaiser M715 never looked so good!by Mark McNabb, on
Every year since 2002, Jeep, along with its parts division, Mopar, team up to create one-off concept vehicles ahead of the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. This year is no different, with seven amazing concept Jeeps ready to blast Moab’s tough trails with thousands of Jeep enthusiasts trailing behind.
This year is special though; it marks the 50th running of the Jeep Safari. 2016 is also Jeep’s 75th anniversary, having been birthed from the beginnings of World War II. Over the years, several of the Easter Jeep Safari concepts have paid tribute to Jeep’s wartime history. For 2016, the Jeep Crew Chief 715 does the honors.
The Crew Chief 715 is designed to recall the Kaiser M715 U.S. Military truck, which was produced between 1967 and 1969 and based off the Jeep Gladiator pickup. The styling cues are clear, especially in the front. The concept is based off a Wrangler Unlimited, but with a slew of changes from Jeep and Mopar engineers, designers, and fabricators.
Both dealership-available Mopar parts and custom-built prototype pieces were used to construct the Crew Chief. As in the past, Jeep engineers have used these concepts as test beds for new accessories. There’s no telling what parts we could see become available at Jeep dealerships, but chances are high for something seen here to end up in Mopar’s parts catalog.
The 2016 Easter Jeep Safari will take place in Moab, Utah March 19 through 27 and is open to the public.
Continue reading to learn more about the Jeep Crew Chief 715.
2016 Jeep Crew Chief 715
Wow, where to begin… The 2016 Jeep Crew Chief Concept is about as awesome as it gets. Up front, the grille and hood have been modified to recall the Kaiser M715. Everything from the air raid-style turn signals to the domed hood looks spot on. The hood also features vents that help extract heat from the engine bay. The front bumper is a styled after the Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock Edition’s, but features built-in D-ring shackles and cleats for the winch hook. The winch itself appears to be a Warn Zeon series. The bumper still has the Hard Rock’s removable end caps.
The Wrangler’s half metal doors and windshield are about the only recognizable production Wrangler parts
Moving rearward, the front fenders now boast large vents on either side, complete with the Crew Chief logo. The Wrangler’s half metal doors and windshield are about the only recognizable production Wrangler parts. Behind the rear door is a built-in step, making it easy to access the cargo bed.
Speaking of the bed, the custom-built piece features mesh bed walls and six tie-down hooks for securing cargo. The fuel filler neck is incorporated into the mesh, along with a quick-disconnect compressed air coupler fed from the on-board compressor. Around back, the tailgate features the classic Jeep lettering stamped into the metal. Production-style Wrangler taillights remind on-lookers what this rig used to be. Lastly, the rear bumper matches the front, with the removable end caps, built-in D-rings, and Warn winch.
Down low, the Crew Chief 715 rides on 40-inch NDT military tires wrapped around 20-inch beadlock wheels. A rock slider bar extends nearly from wheel to wheel, protecting the body from off-road damage. Up top, a custom canvas top covers the cabin. The removable top again recalls the old Kaiser’s looks, as does the “Tactical Green” body color.
Jeep didn’t do too much with the Crew Chief’s interior, but what was changed offers a drastic difference. The stock Wrangler dashboard now houses a bank of four toggle switches that control the air compressor, front differential lock and rear differential lock. An auxiliary switch was left open for any future upgrades. Below the navigation screen is a massive compass. The old-school navigational devise ensures you’ll always know which way is north, however, the front passenger might miss his air conditioner vet, especially in the deserts of Moab.
Drivetrain & Suspension
The V-6 does make use of a cold air intake and custom exhaust
Jeep engineers left well enough alone with the Crew Chief’s powertrain. It utilizes the standard, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 mated to the five-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 does make use of a cold air intake and custom exhaust. Those changes likely bump power from its stock tune of 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
However, it’s after the transmission that things begin to change. Upgraded Dana 60 axles are held in place by a four-inch lift kit complete with Jeep Performance Parts/Fox Racing’s 2.0 Remote Reservoir shocks. Manual locking front hubs replace the stock automatic hubs for a sure engagement of 4WD. Engineers upgraded the braking system with a larger master cylinder, helping stop those 40-inch tires.
This is perhaps the baddest concept we’ve seen from Jeep in recent memory. The Crew Chief 715 does a fantastic job of honoring the old Kaiser M715 military truck of the past while showcasing the abilities of Jeep to dream big. It also showcases several prototype parts that we’d love to see make production – first of which has to be the upgraded steel bumpers with the integrated D-ring tow points. The Wrangler JK has always had dinky little tow hooks on its front bumper and these shackles go a long way to remedying that. Second has to be the dash-mounted toggle switches. Sure, switches like these would never make production, but ask any Ford F-150 Raptor owner about the ease of wiring up aftermarket accessories like light bars.
These seven concepts do a fantastic job of also paying tribute to the Wrangler JK. The JK doesn’t have long before Jeep releases the next-generation Wrangler for 2018, relegating the JK to the “pre-owned” section of dealer lots. Nevertheless, Jeep will continue offering Jeep Performance Parts through Mopar.