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Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks Team Displays Lineup of Creative Gems

The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show has witnessed the debut of a number of cutting-edge vehicles from Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team in the past few years. This year will be no different, as Mopar® and the SkunkWerks team will debut new custom vehicles at SEMA.

2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro

2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro

5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler Dealer Technical Operations and Vehicle Build Shops
  • 5.7L HEMI Crate Engine by Mopar
  • 360 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm and 360 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 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 fiber hood, 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 stuffed a Mopar Performance 5.7L HEMI under the hood. Gear slamming is done through a Tremec 5-speed transmission via a Hurst pistol grip.

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

Sure to turn heads – leaving lots of long black strips on the pavement.

2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler Vehicle Build Shops
  • 3.7L, 12-valve, SOHC V-6
  • 210 horsepower and 235 lbs.-ft. of torque

With hot rod flavor, this retro 2-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 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 modern, masculine and athletic shape by lowering the sills and fascia. The beefy flares are one inch wider per side to cover the one-off Alcoa forged 20 x 9 wheels wrapped in sticky BF Goodrich g-Force 265/50VR20s. The suspension was lowered 2 inches to lower the center 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 creates an opportunity for unique storage systems. When the rear door 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 (which was created by our vehicle mock-up area). 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 stuff: 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 gray 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, flats of flowers or groceries in here.

2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner

2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner

Chrysler Sebring Tuner

  • Builders: DaimlerChrysler vehicle build shops
  • 4.0L
  • 285 horsepower and 295 lbs.-ft. of torque

Mission: Take the Chrysler Sebring and exaggerate its existing elements to create an even more dynamic and eye-catching tuner. Mission Accomplished.

The Chrysler Sebring Tuner’s exterior features new fascias with floating PIAA fog lamps, sill extensions, hood with air extractors, deck 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 calipers in the front and 2 piston in the rear.

To enhance the vroom factor, it’s fitted with a 4.0-liter 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 aluminum racing pedals and custom stainless steel cluster and clock supplied by US Speedo.

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Builders: Jeep Truck Engineering-Design Aid Build Shops
3.0L Common Rail Diesel
230 horsepower and 390 lbs-ft. of torque at @ 2,800 rpm
Takes the already off-road benchmark 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 tires mounted on Custom 18-inch aluminum wheels supplied by Taneisya.

The exterior features a Warn 9.5ti winch mounted on American Expedition Vehicles new front bumper. A full-size spare is carried by our new Mopar performance rear bumper. And it looks like a billion bucks – sprayed in a rich Rolex Silver paint.

2007 Jeep® Patriot

2007 Jeep® Patriot

Jeep® Patriot

  • Builders: Chrysler Tech Center Vehicle Build Shops

Trail-rated and designed to maximize the capability of the most off-road worthy vehicle in its class. 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 tires 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 tire exposure as possible. Custom roof rack ensures there’s plenty of storage for any occasion. Auxiliary lighting brightens any dark trails.

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon King

2007 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 utilizes massive BF Goodrich 37 x 12.50-17 TA Krawler tires 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 tire where the back seat used to reside, fender 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 hood and rear corner guards.

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

Dodge Targa Newfoundland Caliber

When it was first unveiled, Dodge Caliber redefined the entry-level vehicle by combining high value with bold styling. The Caliber appealed to owners around the world who wanted Dodge attitude packaged with the capability and versatility of a sport-utility vehicle and the affordability and fuel-efficiency of an entry-level compact car.

Now, the Dodge Caliber seeks to conquer a new world – the five-day Targa Newfoundland event - where a vehicle's durability is put to the test. The Targa race is not for the faint of heart, and Dodge Caliber is ready to prove that affordability and performance can go hand-in-hand.

Type and Description: ........... 2.4-Liter DOHC I4 Turbo
Displacement: ...................... 144 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: ...................... 3.46" x 3.82"
Valve System: ....................... Chain-driven DOHC, variable valve timing/camshaft and four valves per cylinder
Fuel Injection: ...................... Sequential, multi-point injection fuel system
Compression Ratio: ............... 8.6:1
Fuel Requirement: ................ Premium fuel 93 octane
Fuel Capacity: ...................... 13.6 gallon
Oil Capacity: ........................ 5.0 qt.
Coolant Capacity: ................. 7.2 qt.
Power: ................................ 300 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: ................................ 260 lb.-ft. @ 2,000-6,000 rpm

Front: .................................. KW coilover independent McPherson strut with stabilizer bar
Rear: ................................... Multi-link independent rear suspension with KW coilover shock absorbers with stabilizer bar

Overall Length: ..................... 173.8"
Overall Width: ...................... 68.8"
Overall Height: ..................... 60.4"
Wheelbase: .......................... 103.7"
Front Track: ......................... 59.8"
Rear Track: .......................... 59.8"
Curb-to-Curb Circle: .............. 35.5"
Ground Clearance: ................ 4.0"
Drag Coefficient: ................... 0.375
Curb Weight: ........................ 2,760 lbs.

Front: ............................. 340 x 28 mm ventilated discs with dual piston calipers
Rear: .............................. 302 x 10 mm discs with single piston calipers

Front Head Room: ................ 40"
Rear Head Room: ................. 38.9"
Front Hip Room: ................... 52.2"
Rear Hip Room: ................... 49.6"
Front Leg Room: ................... 41.8"
Rear Leg Room: ................... 35.6"
Front Shoulder Room: ........... 54.2"
Rear Shoulder Room: ............ 53.4"
Interior Volume: .................... 95.2"

Rack and pinion with hydraulic power assist

Michelin Pilot® Sport Cup

• Vehicle specifications shown do not represent current production Dodge Caliber specifications.

Jeep® Compass Rallye

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

Rallye body kit by Mopar
Modified Rallye rear spoiler by Mopar
Hood with integral scoop and mesh grille
Radiator grille – mesh inserts
Hid driving lamps – PIAA 800
Mid-gate high wing spoiler
Doors – ditches removed
Roof – molding removed
Rear step pad – removed
Mirror caps – body color
Door handles – body color
Fuel door – painted body color
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
Tires – 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 fiber bolsters
Center stack bezels – painted silver
Center stack upper – Mopar performance guages with custom housing
AM/FM 6-disk CD/MP3 player and DVD navigation (REC)
Billet shift knob with carbon fiber grip
Bright pedal kit by Mopar
Door upper panels – carbon fiber
Door main panels – painted black
Door switch bezels – painted silver
Seats – Katzkin carbon fiber body with silver center

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 creation, the SkunkWerks team has become known as a breeding ground for creative automotive minds. The team creates complete vehicle concepts that are meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization, as well as new vehicle concepts. In fact, the first-generation SRT4 was born 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 customized, “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.”

“For me the most fun part of this project was actually creating things out of thin air,” said Steve Meloche, a member of the SkunkWerks team who designed nearly 100 parts for one of the team’s 2006 SEMA vehicles, the Dodge Challenger Super Stock concept project. “We took a Dodge Magnum underbody chassis and a Challenger concept shell, and married the two. Then we literally dreamed the vehicle in between!”

“These projects give you the chance to use your own creative abilities and your past experiences, whereas some other projects are more rigid and you don’t have that opportunity,” said Roger McCallum, build leader on the Dodge Challenger Super Stock concept project. “It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. When the car is done, you might see it at SEMA show or at an auto show. That’s a great feeling.”

“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 created for the business of distributing parts through a depot system and car divisional wholesalers.

Mopar made its mark in the 1960s – 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.


2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro
2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro

2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro
2007 5.7L HEMI® Dodge Nitro

2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon
2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon
2007 Dodge Nitro Panel Wagon

2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner
2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner

2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner
2007 Chrysler Sebring Tuner

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2007 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

2007 Jeep® Patriot
2007 Jeep® Patriot

2007 Jeep® Patriot
2007 Jeep® Patriot

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon King
2007 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon King

2007 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon King
2007 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon King

Text and photos: Chrysler Group

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