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Chrysler Group at SEMA 2006


9th November, 2006



The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show held in Las Vegas, United States, last week has witnessed the debut of a number of vehicles from the Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team in the past few years. This year is no different, with Mopar and the SkunkWerks team debuting a host of new custom vehicles at SEMA.

Heightening the interest in these customs for the Australian market is the news that the original vehicles on which these customs are based will arrive for sale locally within the next 12 months.

Australia's 2007 Chrysler Group releases:

Chrysler Sebring – mid year
Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited – second quarter
Jeep Compass – second quarter
Jeep Patriot – third quarter
Dodge Nitro – third quarter

Customised Dodge Nitro

Chrysler Group SkunkWerks Project Vehicles at SEMA 2006:

Dodge Nitro

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler Dealer Technical Operations and Vehicle Build Shops
  • 5.7L Crate Engine by Mopar
  • 265 kW @ 5,400 rpm and 489 Nm @ 4,200 rpm

This Dodge Nitro rolls on custom 22-inch Alcoa rims with 14-inch Brembos behind them. With custom body panels including carbon fibre bonnet, front and rear fascias are covered in a one-of-a-kind blackberry pearl paint accented by the custom purple rain glass supplied by Solutia.

But this Nitro isn’t just about looks. The team installed a Mopar Performance 5.7L under the bonnet. Gear slamming is done through a Tremec 5-speed transmission via a Hurst pistol grip. In its production guise the Nitro will be available with a 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine or a 2.8-litre diesel engine.

The interior of the SkunkWerks Nitro continues the no-nonsense approach with four Viper buckets wrapped in black carbon fibre leather by Katzkin.

Customised Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler Vehicle Build Shops
  • 3.7L, 12-valve, SOHC V6
  • 155 kW and 319 Nm

With hot rod flavour, this retro two-door Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon also has modern flair. The Nitro Panel Wagon began as a statement about traditional hot rodding. It not only had to be a styling statement, it had to be functional, just as the speed shops did it in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Modifying a standard Dodge Nitro by hand, the same way a custom car builder would. It’s Mopar-themed throughout – accessory, performance and replacement parts.

The metal shop welded the rear doors shut and hand-formed the panel to fill in where the quarter and rear door glass once resided. The unique body kit accentuates its shape by lowering the sills and fascia. The flares are one inch wider per side to cover the one-off Alcoa forged 20 x 9 wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich g-Force 265/50VR20s. The suspension was lowered 2 inches to lower the centre of gravity and improve the handling. Mopar’s signature blue and white was laid on the classic panel wagon two-tone scheme. The big blue space on the panel where the glass once lived begged for the Mopar Authentic Performance logo.

Exterior attributes set the tone for the real story: inside. Panel vans carry cargo and this one does it in style. Deleting the rear doors and seats provides an opportunity for unique storage systems. When the tailgate is opened, the cargo floor appears to be a nice, flat area with a textured material. Upon closer inspection, a set of handles, borrowed from the production version of the Nitro, unlatch and release the 400-lb.-capacity load floor that extends a whopping 36 inches. Cargo is kept from going into the front compartment by an aviation-inspired cargo net. Where the glass and quarter trim once lived, there are a set of custom panels designed to hold smaller items: tools, oil, filters, everything a hot rodder might need on the road. The front compartment remains in basically stock trim with the exception of the custom seats done by Katzkin, which include smooth polyurethane bolsters with a grey textured insert that mimics the cargo mat. The seats carry an embroidered Mopar logo with matching blue accent stitching.

The Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon combines the essence of a classic panel van with the modern, aggressive style of today’s Dodge. With its appearance and speed shop utility, this vehicle will be greatly appreciated by any gearhead. No surfboards or groceries in here.

Chrysler Sebring Tuner

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler vehicle build shops
  • 4.0L
  • 210 kW and 400 Nm

Mission: Take the not-so-attractive Chrysler Sebring and exaggerate its existing elements to provide a more dynamic and eye-catching car.

The Chrysler Sebring Tuner’s exterior features new fascias with floating PIAA fog lamps, sill extensions, bonnet with air extractors, boot lid spoiler and HID headlamps. All front openings have been fitted with custom-stamped stainless-steel mesh accented with chrome bezels. To achieve the proper stance, the vehicle was lowered approximately 2 inches and fitted with larger "one-off" 20-inch wheels machined by Alcoa. Through the mesh wheels, one sees larger 13.5-inch cross-drilled rotors all the way around with Stoptech 4-piston callipers in the front and 2 piston in the rear.

To enhance the vroom factor, it’s fitted with a 4.0-litre engine mated to an automatic 6-speed transmission. The exhaust system was custom bent with components supplied by CORSA, finished off with dual 4-inch tips.

The interior features a unique combination of black with starbright silver accents creating a sophisticated and sporty environment. The more aggressively bolstered "SRT-style" seats have been leather wrapped by Katzkin and feature silver contrast stitching. The sound system has been upgraded by Boston Acoustics, with higher-output amplifier, broad-range frequency speakers, custom 10-inch sub enclosures and "My-gig" radio head unit. Driver interface has also been improved with leather-wrapped steering wheel, milled aluminium racing pedals and custom stainless steel cluster and clock supplied by US Speedo.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

  • Builders: Jeep Truck Engineering-Design Aid Build Shops
  • 3.0L Common Rail Diesel
  • 170 kW and 529 Nm at @ 2,800 rpm

Takes the Jeep Wrangler to a whole new level. Built by a team of dedicated Jeep enthusiasts, this Wrangler represents the best of the best of what Jeep has to offer.

The interior features custom Katzkin leather seating with GPS navigation and satellite radio.

Plenty of power and traction with the new 3.0L CRD diesel under the hood and the incredible Tru-Lok-equipped Dana 44 axles underneath. Performance suspension lift allows clearance for 35-inch BFG Mud Terrain tyres mounted on Custom 18-inch aluminium wheels supplied by Taneisya.

The exterior features a Warn 9.5 winch mounted on American Expedition Vehicles new front bumper. A full-size spare is carried by the new Mopar performance rear bumper. And it looks good, having been sprayed in a rich Rolex Silver paint.

Jeep® Compass Rallye

  • Contributors: Borla; Katzkin; Algonquin; Alcoa; BASF; and GFX.

Rallye body kit by Mopar
Modified Rallye rear spoiler by Mopar
Bonnet with integral scoop and mesh grille
Radiator grille – mesh inserts
HID driving lamps – PIAA 800
Mid-gate high wing spoiler
Doors – ditches removed
Roof – moulding removed
Rear step pad – removed
Mirror caps – body colour
Door handles – body colour
Fuel door – painted body colour
Tinted tail lamps
Upper door pillars – painted black

Chassis/Powertrain System
Radiator – silver
Front wheels – Mopar 18 x 7
Rear custom billet 19 x 9
Brakes – modified PM SRT
Tyres – Toyo PROXES S/T F-255/55 R18, R-255/50 R19
Exhaust – cat-back Borla
Strut power brace – Mopar performance
Cold air intake system – Mopar performance
Rallye badges by Mopar

Instrument panel
Base panel – black with carbon fibre bolsters
Centre stack bezels – painted silver
Centre stack upper – Mopar performance gauges with custom housing
AM/FM 6-disk CD/MP3 player and DVD navigation (REC)
Billet shift knob with carbon fibre grip
Bright pedal kit by Mopar
Door upper panels – carbon fibre
Door main panels – painted black
Door switch bezels – painted silver
Seats – Katzkin carbon fibre body with silver centre

Jeep Patriot

  • Builders: Chrysler Tech Centre Vehicle Build Shops

Custom suspension lift raises the suspension 2.5 inches over stock-ride height and provides over 11 inches of ground clearance – to make way for the 31-inch BFG Mud Terrain tyres on 16-inch Jeep Moab rims supplied by Prime Wheel. The front fascia is replaced by a custom steel bumper designed to protect the front end while allowing for as much tyre exposure as possible. Custom roof rack ensures there’s plenty of storage for any occasion. Auxiliary lighting brightens any dark trails.

Customised Jeep Wrangler Rubicon King

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon King
An amplification of Jeep's most capable off-road machine. Taking full advantage of the 4:1 ratio Rock-Trac transfer case and Tru-Lok equipped Dana 44 axles, the Rubicon King utilises massive BF Goodrich 37 x 12.50-17 TA Krawler tyres mounted on Mopar/Hutchinson beadlock wheels. Superlift Suspension provided its new 4-inch lift for extra ground clearance and Warn-supplied new 9.0 RC Rock Crawling Winch.

Custom features include relocation of the spare tyre where the back seat used to reside, flares and grille trimmed for extreme clearance, trick lighting, military spec tow shackles and radio delete plate. Other features include American Expedition Vehicle's new heat-reduction bonnet and rear corner guards.

Not destined to be a show queen, it’ll be put to the test in Moab, Utah, United States during the Easter Jeep Safari.

About the SkunkWerks Team
Started in 2002, Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team is a group of in-house enthusiasts brought together by passion to bring visionary automotive ideas to life. Since its inception, the SkunkWerks team has become known as a breeding ground for developing automotive minds. The team develops complete vehicle concepts that are meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customisation, as well as new vehicle concepts. In fact, the first-generation SRT4 was developed from a SkunkWerks style initiative.

“The SkunkWerks team has been around for a while,” said Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group Vice President – Jeep/Truck & Component Design, who oversees the team. “We’ve been doing special projects for about five years. It’s the usual suspects — a bunch of enthusiasts from our union shops, the design office, SRT and Mopar engineering. We get together every year and come up with ideas on what kinds of cars we could build to flex the potential in our platform and also show Chrysler Group’s enthusiast side.”

The SkunkWerks team takes special pride in the customised, “straight from the factory” vehicles it produces.

“The teams are small and very focused,” said Gilles. “The cars hold a special place in their hearts and they know how important the vehicles are to Chrysler Group. Our internal culture allows this unique cross-pollination of ideas. There are no titles in the teams, just ideas and passion to keep the Mopar spirit alive. It’s something unique to us – that only we could do. The projects have also unearthed great talent in our skilled trade employees. We’ve brought the metal, paint, plastic and wood shops together – with amazing results.”

“There is so much creativity in this team,” said Gilles. “A lot of these guys are hot rodders by nature. They bring, in some cases, 30 years of hot rod experience to the project. A lot of these guys have lived it and breathed it, and now they have the chance to create it again. These guys love this.”

“All the workers on this team are creative and are proud of their work,” said George Wiegand, build supervisor. “They relish the opportunity to let their creative abilities show on jobs like this. You always hear about the outside shops that do this kind of work. Mopar and the SkunkWerks team are proving that we can do the same work in-house.”

About DaimlerChrysler’s Mopar Brand
When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts supplier led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Division. In 1937, Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was planned for the business of distributing parts through a depot system and car divisional wholesalers.

Mopar made its mark in the 1960s in the United States – the muscle car era. Beginning in 1962, Mopar carried a line of “Special Parts” for super stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use.

Today, Chrysler Group’s Global Service & Parts division is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of nearly 250,000 authentic Mopar replacement parts, components and accessories for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles sold around the world. To assure quality, reliability and durability, all Mopar parts and accessories are designed in strict adherence to DaimlerChrysler engineering standards.

Other Chrysler news: here

Other Dodge news: here

Other Jeep news: here

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