As important as the Rubicon Trail is to Jeep fans, there’s one place that arguably matches it: Moab, Utah. Every year since 1967—except for 2020, due to the pandemic—the brand faithful gather here for the Easter Jeep Safari. And to celebrate their loyalty, since 2002 the automaker has brought along a selection of concepts to show off.
For the 2021 event, Jeep brought along an all-electric stick-shift Wrangler. And it also brought a retro-style SUV with a classic name: the Jeepster Beach.
The original Jeepster Commando offered a ‘more luxurious’ off-road SUV experience
Although it’s not around today, the ‘Jeepster’ name has a rather long history within the Jeep brand. It first appeared in 1948 on a RWD convertible then-Jeep-owner Willys-Overland developed as “’a dashing four-cylinder sports phaeton,’” Hagerty reports. Unfortunately, its high price tag and relative lack of power meant it wasn’t very popular. As a result, Willys canceled the Jeepster in 1951.
However, that’s not the Jeepster most Jeep fans remember—that would be the Jeepster Commando of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Admittedly, the Commando somewhat resembles the earlier Jeepster by being a four-seater convertible, Road & Track reports. However, unlike the original model, the Commando wasn’t only available as a convertible. By then, Jeep was under Kaiser’s ownership, and it offered the Jeepster as a roof-less roadster, a pickup, and a station wagon, OffRoad Xtreme reports.
And, crucially, the Jeepster Commando didn’t have RWD. Instead, it was only sold with 4WD. It was actually the first 4WD vehicle sold with an automatic transmission. Plus, it offered power steering, power brakes, roll-up windows, a heater, and an optional V6, Hemmings, Autoblog, and Four Wheeler report. And like its main rivals, the Ford Bronco, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and the International Scout, the Commando was a real off-roader.
After a face-lift in 1972 under AMC’s ownership, Jeep discontinued the Commando in 1973. However, the Jeepster name reappeared on a 2018 Easter Jeep Safari concept based on the new-gen Wrangler Rubicon, Roadshow reports. And in addition to the throwback two-tone paint job, the 2018 concept featured a cut-down hardtop and windshield, and plenty of Jeep Performance parts.
But for the 2021 Easter Jeep Safari, the design team decided to go a little more extreme.
The 2021 Jeepster Beach Easter Jeep Safari concept channels the original with the Wrangler’s help
Under the Jeepster Beach’s hood is the Wrangler’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But while it’s still connected to an eight-speed automatic, Jeep tuned it to 340 hp and 369 lb-ft, MotorTrend reports, and upgraded the cooling system. The 4WD system also features a different transfer-case ratio, Car and Driver reports. And instead of the standard two-door Wrangler Rubicon body, the Jeepster Beach has a custom body with a custom chrome roll cage, R&T reports.
Unlike the standard Wrangler Rubicon, the Jeepster Beach only has two seats. But they’re not the standard ones. Instead, they’re custom low-back seats upholstered in red leather, as is the rest of the interior. Plus, to make cleaning easier, there aren’t any carpets. And new 35” off-road tires round out the modifications, Roadshow reports.
Will there be a production version?
While some concepts are just static display items, the Easter Jeep Safari concepts are generally working vehicles. And the 2021 Jeepster Beach concept is no exception.
But while the Jeepster Beach runs and off-roads, Jeep doesn’t appear to have any intention of putting it into production. However, that doesn’t mean some of its features, such as the engine tune and two-tone paint job, couldn’t appear on future Jeep products.
That being said, the V8-powered Wrangler Rubicon 392 was also once just a concept.
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