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Car and Driver: I Predict a Riot: Jeep Kaiser Crew Chief 715 Concept Shipping Out to Moab

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CrewChief

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Based on the civilian-issue Jeep Gladiator pickup, the original Kaiser Jeep M715 rolled off the line at Jeep’s Toledo, Ohio, facility for only approximately two years, yet it made an enduring impression that is burned into the minds of Jeep enthusiasts everywhere. Designed initially as a rudimentary hauling vehicle for cargo and personnel, the one-and-one-quarter-ton M715 could also be outfitted for ambulance duty (M725), as a maintenance vehicle (M726), and as a chassis-cab variant (M724), which was generally fitted with a generator/welder and winch. To salute this versatile beast and other military vehicles of the same ilk, Jeep has cooked up the Crew Chief 715 concept, a Wrangler Unlimited–based off-road vehicle that is scheduled to ship out next week for the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.

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Clad in a hue of military-inspired “Tactical Green” from stem to stern, the Crew Chief 715 concept sports a five-foot cargo bed aft of the rear seats. Far from just a cosmetic homage, the Jeep Crew Chief includes steel front and rear bumpers, 20-inch beadlock wheels wearing 40-inch NDT (non-directional tread) tires, and Dana 60 front and rear axles with a four-inch lift kit and Jeep Performance Parts/Fox 2.0 remote-reservoir shocks. Jeep Performance Parts chipped in with a set of off-road rock rails, and a pair of winches—one front, one rear—guarantee the 715 will be popular on the more difficult trails. Adding to the Crew Chief’s arsenal of hardware is an onboard air-compressor system with a quick-disconnect fitting that makes airing up the 715 or any nearby vehicles a cinch.

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Although the original M715 relied on Jeep’s “Tornado” inline-six for motivation, the Crew Chief 715 concept utilizes the corporate 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, which is tweaked with a cold-air intake and a modified exhaust to ensure proper breathing. A five-speed automatic handles the cog swaps, and an upgraded brake master cylinder helps the binders reel in the trail-born chaos.

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Leather bucket seats with canvas inserts replace the butt-busting military-grade bench seats of yore, and Mopar all-weather mats keep the floor tidy, something that probably wasn’t too much of a concern for the guys assigned to M715 duty in Vietnam. Likewise, the presence of a media center that features a centrally located navigational compass serves as a welcome reminder of the march of progress. Other than some military-inspired switchgear, the rest of the interior is all business.

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Ultimately, the only thing missing from the Crew Chief 715 is the dirt to spin the tires in. And before you race to hit the comment button to point out that the original M715 had only two doors, stop and consider that tinging your nostalgia with a few strokes of progress isn’t always a bad thing. After all, while the idea of eating expired rations and tinkering with a stubborn carburetor while nursing a raging case of trench foot is appealing, we’ll take function over historically correct form any day.

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