Undoubtedly, one of the recognized vehicles from the Jeep® brand is the Wagoneer (SJ). As the first four-wheel-drive (4×4) vehicle mated with an automatic transmission, it pioneered the first modern SUV. For 29 years, the SJ consisted of three models (Wagoneer, Cherokee, and Grand Wagoneer) and was the third longest-produced single generation car in U.S. automotive history.
We have seen a number of awesome car designs from various automotive artists, over the past several years. One of our favorite digital artists, Abimelec Arellano (@abimelecdesign) now has a column on the Hagerty website dubbed “What If”. The column, uses Abimelec’s creative mind to create vehicles from an “alternate universe” that never made it into production here.
One such vehicle that caught our eye was his SJ-based 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 design. In 1987, facing financial woes the then Chrysler Corporation purchased Jeep’s parent company American Motor Corporation (AMC). But “what if” despite Chrysler Corporation going through financial problems of their own, had purchased AMC a decade earlier? Could we have seen a Dodge Durango SUV earlier? And what would it look like?
Blending a 1979 Jeep Wagoneer with the design of a 1979 Dodge D-100 Adventurer pickup, the 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 concept looks like something that truly could have been around during the late-1970s. And just like all other Durango of the modern area, this concept transforms the two-row Wagoneer into a three-row full-size SUV.
Using the grille and quad-headlight design of the 1979 D-100, the Durango concept looks very Dodge upfront. Bold chrome bumpers, 5-spoke aluminum wheels styled after the units found on the Li’l Red Express, and a bold graphics package make the Durango stand out. We especially love the small details to the exterior, like the “Direct Connection” and “We Can Do It – Chrysler Corporation” bumper stickers on the rear bumper.
Inside, there is an all-red interior featuring the dash out of the D-100, shift-on-the-fly 4×4 transfer case located on the floor, and ample seating for 7-passengers. A center console from a 1991 to 1993 Ram D-150 was placed between the front seats, offering a tough plastic molded space to rest your hand and your drink. We also see a modern set of Chrysler-sourced belt buckles located next to that center console. The rest of the interior is strictly Wagoneer.
Abimelec also pictures his Durango to be powered by two V8 engine options. The first is the proven 5.9-liter (360 cubic-inch) V8. Now both the Wagoneer and D-100 offered a 360 cubic-inch V8 in their arsenal. The Mopar-based small block at the time produced about 185 horsepower. His second engine option was the mighty 7.2-liter (440 cubic-inch) big block V8. Although the 440 was dropped from the lineup in 1978, this is an alternate universe, so lets say it continued on. The 440 offered 255 horsepower despite all of the emission garbage added on during the late-1970s. In this conceptual application, both engines were mated to the bulletproof A727 3-speed automatic transmission.
What really surprises us, is Abimelec’s attention to detail on even creating a period-correct advertisement for his 1979 Dodge Durango. He also created several different color schemes to go along with the design, with the Citron Green Metallic paint color and white exterior decals being our favorite choice.
So what do you think of this conceptual take on a SJ-based Durango? Let us know in the comments below or in the MoparInsiders.com forums.
Also be sure to check out Abimelec’s “What If” article on Hagerty.com.
The “What If” 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept Image Gallery: