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How Did Trailhawk Prepare For Its Trip?

What was once a rejected auto sketch has been turned into a domineering vehicle that delivers the best out of the on-road and off-road worlds. This is the plight of Jeep Trailhawk, Wrangler's new variant.

Jeep builds on the new Wrangler Unlimited platform to offer enthusiasts new motoring experience through the Trailhawk. The vehicle, which has debuted at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, got its name from its prominent hawk-like expression.

The automaker did away with the Jeep parts 1986 body to pave way for a more sophisticated and responsive drive feel. The Trailhawk is equipped with removable tinted glass panels that cover the first- and second-row seats. When the panels are removed, occupants could enjoy an open-air drive. It is also been given a 3.0-liter BLUETEC 215-hp 376 lb-ft diesel.

Nicho Vardis of Chrysler group's Advanced Product Design gave Trailhawk its wings. The man has also helped in designing the Saturn Sky concept. Vardis was supposed to formulate ideas for a production Jeep, so he went on the Internet to do some imagery research where he spotted a skin diver's watch that tickled his eye for details, beauty and elegance. Said watch is not just about beauty, he thought. It is about function. Even its colorful face had a meaning. "The yellow is the last color you see when you descend in the water," said Vardis, which is also a certified diver.

Vardis added, "A Jeep is about utility - but also adventure, the wind in your hair, a feeling of openness." He started sketching. And before he knew it, he already created a magnificent concept complete with removable glass panels on the roof, sides and back, bold wheel flares and a slight scowl.

Trailhawk's open-air styling was also influenced by 1998 Jeepster concept taken from Chrysler's annual concept competition. Don Renkert, senior design manager in the Product Design Office said, "It's a draw to want to be here (referring to the competition), because you know you're going to get a chance to contribute - and you may be the 'American Idol,' in effect."

Basically, Jeepster history was reborn in one of Vardis' earliest pencil drawings. The metamorphosis of a concept auto sketch into what is called today as Trailhawk, involves lots of hard work and dedication. "We always have to imagine these (concept) cars could be in our portfolio, so what would be the approach? It didn't take us long to realize this would have to be a diesel. It's the perfect engine for a car like this - lots of torque. It's great for off-roading," GM said.

After conceptualization, design and assembly, Trailhawk, which balances innovation and Jeep's DNA, was born. "It had this slightly furrowed brow, and the first thing we all said was it looked like an eagle or a hawk. It had that sort of attitude about it, a little bit of a scowl to it, which is not typical of Jeep. For the first time, we saw the face and the expression of the car," said Donald Renkert, Jeep Studio senior manager. "Suddenly we had a set of eyes and a set of teeth, and we all sat back and said, 'Wow, that's cool,' because the car had an expression." At this point, Trailhawk is ready for its close-up.

About the Author: Corey Putton is a 28-year old bachelor from Pittsburgh, PA who has been around cars for the better part of his life. He now works online and writes all about his passion: cars. He is also a certified mechanic.

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