LAST year’s reveal of the X-Class concepts from Mercedes-Benz, as well as all the talk in early 2017 about a new Ford Bronco, had us all thinking about the wild concept 4x4s we’ve seen over the years. There have been some wild ones and awfully odd ones, but a few have stuck in the memory for their outright outrageousness.
Step back and check out our five favourites. Then head to YouTube to find some vids of these radical rigs.
SUZUKI pulled the wraps off its X-Head concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007, but I first laid eyes on it at Detroit the following year. This whacky, pocket-sized pick-up would be an uber-cool city runabout and provide lots of fun out on the tracks thanks to its light weight and large off-road tyres.
With the Japanese carmaker planning a replacement for its current, long-serving Sierra/Jimny, we reckon it should look back a decade to the weird X-Head.
MERCEDES BENZ X-CLASS POWERFUL
IT HAD been a while since we’d seen many wild concept 4x4s, but Mercedes-Benz got the imagination flowing again last year with its X-Class Powerful concept. One of two X-Class concepts, the Powerful version was the off-road one with its massive muddies, front and rear winches and more functional interior.
With an Australian release next year, we could see a production version of the Nissan-based X-Class Benz before the end of 2017. However, you can bet it won’t be as cool as this.
FORD BRONCO CONCEPT
IF YOU believe the rumours, the 2020 Ford Bronco will be nothing more than a reskinned Ford Everest. A five-door Bronco? No thanks.
Hark back to 2004, when Ford’s head of design J. Mays was at the peak of his retro period, and this Bronco concept hit the spot. Appearing as if it was milled from a solid block of billet steel, the Bronco had the dimensions of the original 1966 model with a modern industrial edge to it.
Interestingly, I was standing next to a Land Rover designer as Mays pulled the wraps off this at the Detroit show and he told me he had several sketches of a new Defender concept back in his office that were very much like this vehicle. We’re yet to see the next Defender or a new Bronco for that matter.
JEEP NUKIZER (2010)
I COULD have chosen any of the many concept vehicles Jeep has unveiled at the annual Easter Jeep Safari (EJS) in Moab, but this one has always excited me. Based on a diesel JK Wrangler platform with a custom cargo tub, chopped rag-top and a fabricated front end that pays homage to the Kaiser 715 military truck, the Nukizer was an off-road weapon.
Jeep revived the look at the 2015 EJS with its double-cab Crew Chief concept, which is said to be a tip to the upcoming 2018 Wrangler pick-up.
JEEP HURRICANE (2005)
AS I stood in the crowd at the Chrysler stand at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, waiting to see the latest from the Jeep brand, I could never have anticipated what I was about to see. The roar of a V8 engine bellowed from behind a curtain before smoke filled the stage and this most radical Jeep-inspired beast launched on to the stage. Then, before the shock of the unveiling could abate, all four wheels of the Hurricane turned inwards and it spun doughnuts on the stage, whipping the smoke up in to a tornado-like whirlwind.
The carbonfibre-bodied Hurricane is powered by not one but two Hemi V8 engines – one in the front and one in the back, driving all four wheels through a crazy split live-axle arrangement. Each of the monster-truck-sized tyres can turn in either direction so that the concept can spin on the spot or crab sideways down the road.
The interior looks like something from Buck Rogers, with its milled metal levers and gauges surrounded by red leather.
I have never seen a vehicle make an entrance as spectacularly as the Jeep Hurricane, and with the general downturn in wild concept vehicles since the global financial crisis I doubt I’ll ever see anything like it again.