Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mopar Nukizer

Back in April, I was sent on assignment to Moab, Utah, the site of the Easter Jeep Safari. Every year during the Safari, Mopar show up and put taste of their latest creations on display for the media. With such concepts, it usually a case of “you can look, but don't touch.” However, the good folks at Jeep and Mopar gave us a slightly more exciting order of, ”sure you can jump them, just don't roll it.”

With unprecedented amount of freedom to explore what the minds at Jeep and Mopar could create, we were able to put the impressive Nukizer 715 through its paces in the dunes of Moab.

Based on the diesel powered chassis of the J8 Military reconnaissance vehicle,  the Nukizer 715 is an all-purpose truck that pays homage to the the beloved military-only Kaiser M-715 truck. The initial design was put together by the Jeep design department while it was the Mopar team that got their hands dirty converting the vehicle into what you see before you. The front end of the Nukizer could easily be mistaken for replacement panels, however the entire front clip is a custom built carbon fibre work of art, built to perfectly cover the internal structure while keeping true to the original. They did such a good job that the headlights retain their standard mounting bezels. The J8 bumpers were kept along with the Helicopter lift rated tow hooks mounted either side of the Warn 9.5XP low-profile winch.

To keep a unique look, the windshield received a small chop, and Bestop provided a unique soft top which artfully captures the traditional downward slope of the original. Behind the cab the team added the familiar AEV Brute pickup box with the addition of a centrally sunken spare tire mount. The J8’s 116-inch wheelbase had to be stretched eight inches to 124-inches to make the bed fit.

Drivetrain upgrades include beefy Dynatrac Pro-Rock Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axles filled with 5:38 gears and ARB Airlocker differentials. Power is distributed by an Atlas II transfer case spinning custom driveshafts from Tom Woods. To put the power to the ground, tires are 38-inch BF Goodrich Mud Terrains mounted on Hutchinson beadlock wheels. The powerplant remains a J8-specific 2.8-liter turbo diesel I-4 that has been treated to a re-programmed computer for more boost. Fuel is supplied from a custom Gen-Right tank made specifically for this vehicle and mounts to the rear cross member.

To finish it off Mopar added rock rails and off-road bumpers, Warn air compressor, Terraflex dual-rate front sway bar and a Garmin GPS Map 640 navigation unit. Then there was the popular grey colour that was matched from the colour of a garbage can. Simple, yet cool.

Driving this beast was an impressive experience to say the least. I have been dreamed of a diesel powered Wrangler for some time, and the J8 performed just as I expected. The 4-cylinder turbo diesel works magnificently to power the Nukizer through the deep sand, and was even grabbing some air along side its counterpart, the Ram Runner. The trucks extra wheelbase also provided a sure stance in the sand, even when sliding around dunes at speed. The Nukizer was a masterful concept design built on the best Jeep chassis I've had the please to drive in anger. Despite the huge fan fare the truck has garnered since it's unveiling, it still remains only a concept, although, I'm not giving up on the possibility of diesel powered Wrangler making in to our shores.

Engine: 2.8-liter turbo diesel I-4
Transmission:  four-speed automatic
Overall height:  75.2 inches
Overall width:  78.6 inches
Wheelbase:  124 inches
Weight:  4,500 pounds
Tires:  38 x 14.50-R17 BF Goodrich KM2

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