Two new rugged concepts have been introduced by the Mopar Underground. The Chrysler-backed enthusiasts have developed a series of parts and accessories to make these truly vicious off-road machines.

Chrysler enthusiasts tuners Mopar Underground have officially introduced their new projects, the Jeep Lower Forty and Jeep Grand Canyon II. The two concept vehicles were shown off at Moab Jeep Safari 2009, near some of the best off-roading in America.

Based on the standard Jeep Wrangler platform, the Jeep Lower Forty has slimmed down fenders and a trimmer body to make room for huge 40 x 13.5 inch tires on Mopar's own 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. Axels capable of handling the big wheels and tires were also put in place. Once the tires were mounted, the tuners sawed off roughly three inches off the top of the vehicle at the windshield, increasing the rake by 10 degrees. These changes kept the ride high enough to protect the undercarriage, but without drastically changing the center of gravity. The Jeep Lower Forty uses a custom made "one-piece carbon-fiber hood, a drop-down tailgate and Red Eye No. 3 exterior paint, a custom color." It is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 Hemi, paired with a Getrag six-speed manual.

When the team attacked the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, they started by installing a Superlift four-inch suspension, and added 285/70R17 tires to new Wrangler Rubicon wheels. Mopar rock rails were also installed, as well a new ARB high-clearance front bumper. Rear seats are removed, with a flat rubber floor in its place. Stainless steel sills and water resistant seat covers can be found on the off-roader. A two-person tent, complete with awning, already present on the Overland, remains a part of this concept. Once they were finished customizing the Overland, a new name was given: the Jeep Grand Canyon II. Chrysler calls it "the most luxurious off-road vehicle built to date by the Mopar Underground team."

Although these two vehicles will not head to production, don't be surprised if you see some of the customizations available at Chrysler dealerships. Their high-performance parts and accessories have a tendency to make their way onto special editions, and into the Mopar catalogue.

Of the team, Jeep design chief Mark Allen said, "These vehicles are built with pride and passion for the Jeep brand by a small group of dedicated engineers, designers and fabricators to explore and demonstrate the many facets of off-roading." Indeed, a source of creativity at Chrysler, hopefully the team does not get the axe due to the firm's financial problems.

[NOTE] Hi-res images added

Mopar Underground Unveils Jeep Lower Forty and Grand Canyon II Concepts in Moab