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What is that?
The result of allowing Jeep’s head designer to channel his inner eight-year old and sketch out his wildest dreams. Presumably after eating a load of sweets. It’s called the Quicksand and it’s bloody awesome.
Agreed, but what is it?
A Jeep Wrangler that’s gotten all confused and thinks it’s part hot-rod, part sand-pounding style monster. This is an actual, bona-fide working car. And we’ve driven it. Which pleases our inner eight-year old greatly.
What’s it for?
Well, each year, around the Easter holiday, Jeep enthusiasts drive to a remote part of Utah to crawl up some rocks and wax lyrical about how much they love the brand. It’s an annual event called the Easter Jeep Safari, where besides scrambling up said rocks, also gives the company a chance to showcase some official concepts.
What are those things sticking out of the bonnet?
Velocity stacks. An octet of trumpets that feed individual throttle bodies, each with their own port fuel injection system to the 6.4-litre 392 Hemi crate engine good for 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. All of that power is sent to all four wheels via a pair of Dynatrack axles suspended by adjustable coilovers and a Getrag six-speed manual transmission. See, this isn’t just a styling exercise as there’s proper hardware attached to bring substance.
Take the 37in tyres at the back and 32s up front, for example. Yep, the fronts have a five-inch smaller diameter than the rears, adding to the whole hot rod aesthetic. It’s the first Jeep to ever run a wonky tyre setup but with BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2s at each corner, mounted on custom 18in “kidney bean” alloy wheels with a center knock-off hub, it can tottle up whatever you put in front of it.
Then there’s the body. With its chopped, flat roof and vertical back, it’s obviously influenced heavily by the early Ford hot-rods. Not one panel remains stock – from the hood to the arches, doors, roof, and tailgate. Then the wheelbase has been stretched, the front and rear overhangs have been hacked off, the B-pillar is gone, the fenders have been sliced open, and the windshield and roof have been chopped down.
But it’s the peerless obsession to detail and hybrid engineering that’s won us over. Take that shiny tank up front. That’s a nod to the ‘Moon’ tanks seen on old dragsters to help aid fuel flow through g-force. Instead of fuel sloshing around, this new aluminium tank perched between the two exposed frame rails houses a Warn winch to pull you out of trouble. Then there’s the dragster parachute on the back: instead of being stuffed with a giant air brake, it houses a tow strap. Neat, eh?
I bet it sounds good.
You’re not wrong, kiddo. That big V8 throbs with anger but there’s a party trick to the exhaust. Or exhausts. You may have noticed the two fluted foghorn exhausts behind the front wheel so big you can put your head in them with ease. They come straight out of the side of the engine block so make a very, very good and loud noise. But the Quicksand features another exhaust system that’s actuated via some valves to divert gases either out of the fender well headers or through a muffler and out the back of the Jeep to hush things down a bit. Why you’d ever want to do that, we don’t know.
Is the interior as wild as the exterior?
Course it is. First off, being so tall, climbing in is quite difficult if you’ve got munchkin legs. And because of the chopped roofline and screen, awkward if you’ve got a lengthy torso. Luckily the inner eight-year-old obviously thought of practicality as it got rid the roof, instead, replacing it with Meccano-like roof rails to maintain structural support in the roof’s absence.
The modern entertainment unit and the dash have been binned in favour of an analogue clock, the dials are throwbacks. Weirdly, there’s a modern, thick leather steering wheel (borrowed from a Viper) covered in blanking plates where all the modern luxuries normal reside. We’d personally prefer to see a thin-rimmed old-school wooden wheel to complete the look. Two blood red half-backed seats are where you sit, and the rear chairs have been binned in favour of a fuel cell and battery. There’s also a chrome cage that shrouds you just in case you end up on the non-existent roof.
Come on then, what’s it like to drive?
Tricky. And, if we’re being honest, a bit of a pig. But that makes it engaging and entertaining in a world of 280mph Bugatti Chirons that your granny can drive. You don’t hop in the Quicksand for ease of use, you do it for an experience. And it delivers that in spades.
See, it’s completely devoid of haptic feedback through either the steering or pedals. Due to the seating position, even with the cut arches, you have to use all your Spidey Sense to work out where the wheels are and what direction they’re pointing in. And with no power steering and what felt like single digit PSI levels in the tyres, low-speed manoeuvring is your new replacement for Crossfit.
Then there’s the throttle. It feels like it’s been lubed up with molten Haribo rather than grease as it’s so sticky, and with those individual throttle bodies, means it’s rather more like a button. It’s either on and you’re heading towards a set of trees in a cacophony of noise, or off, where you’re crawling along on the gear creep.
This makes it interesting off-road, as throttle fluidity and smooth steering are key. And it’s hard to do both – especially with three pedals and a gear throw that’s measured in feet rather than inches.
Doesn’t mean it can’t conquer the rough stuff though. It’s more than capable thanks to plentiful power, knobbly tyres and King coil-over shocks, meaning you can crawl over most things. If you get really stuck, you can lock the diffs. Or use the winch.
Trust us, it’s good fun to drive on and off-road. Having to think about what you’re doing (balancing the clutch, waiting for the fuel to combust and praying the steering wheels are in the right directions), it’s a lot more exhilarating than relying on hill descent and air-ride suspension.
But it wouldn’t make a difference if the Quicksand didn’t drive at all. The fact it exists is worth celebrating alone. Hear, hear, to Jeep. For allowing its designers to indulge their inner eight-year-old.