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1997 Jeep Icon

The famed Chrysler leader John Herlitz wrote that the Jeep Icon concept was “a creative exploration for a next-generation Jeep Wrangler. It’s solid, stable, built like a rock, and its capabilities have been further enhanced.”

Re-designing the Jeep Wrangler for the next century was a unique challenge. Trevor Creed pointed out, “We have a responsibility as caretakers of one of the world’s most recognized brands. Sooner or later we will be challenged with freshening Jeep Wrangler’s appearance without sacrificing its distinctive image and instantly-recognizable characteristics.”

The designers sought a compact, muscular look by increasing the size of the bumper, tires, and wheel arches. They widened the Wrangler’s track, reduced its length by five inches, cut its overhang by two inches, and increased wheel travel from eight to ten inches. Even “untouchable” elements such as the grille, exposed hinges, and folding windshield were updated.

Trevor Creed continued, “We wanted to capture the essence of practical product design which fits the Jeep image. We kept the familiar grille but made it shorter and wider. We also kept the exposed hinges, bold bumpers, exposed door handles, and gas cap ... [for] a mechanical, industrial design feel, and at the same time add a lot of intrinsic value.”

The interior is simple and rugged, with exposed aluminum fittings. The backpack-inspired lightweight seats were made of exposed aluminum tubes with waterproofed olive-gray leather.

The Icon’s designer, Robert Laster, said that his concept was inspired by mountain bikes. “Its parts are high-quality, light-weight, and purpose-built.”