It’s no secret car manufacturers routinely buy their competitors’ vehicles for testing purposes. It’s a way to make sure their own cars and trucks are on the right path, and that what they’re working on for the future can beat what the competitors have out now.
But the vehicles they buy can also give us a hint as to what a company is working on. And according to photos snapped by GM Authority, General Motors has bought at least two Jeep Wranglers and brought them back to its Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan — hinting that GM may be cooking up a Wrangler rival.
Now, at this point, it’s too early to tell what any possible GM Jeep fighter might look like, what engines it might have or even what the truck would be named. For a while, the new Chevrolet Blazer was thought to be GM’s attempt to take on the Wrangler and go toe-to-toe with the upcoming Ford Bronco, just like it did in the ’70s…until it turned out GM’s famous four-wheel-drive truck would be reincarnated as a unibody crossover.
But the basic needs of the Jeep-fighting mission mean we can make some educated guesses about any potential such vehicle. If it’s serious about taking the fight to the Wrangler, GM’s off-roader will need to have body-on-frame construction to have any hope of being accepted by the off-road community. GM Authority does also notes The General has a new body-on-frame architecture in the pipeline, and would likely be looking to put it to work in the ever-growing factory off-roader segment.
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Using the resto-mod market and the rapidly expanding adventure lifestyle universe as a barometer, it’s a no-brainer for GM to dedicate resources to building a true off-roader. Rivals like the Jeep Gladiator and Ford Ranger already make it possible for you to drive off the showroom floor and head out on a weekend camping trip, with factory and aftermarket option lists peppered with rooftop tents, awnings and bike racks. And if you look at independent restoration firms like Icon 4×4 and Himalaya, they all tend to use V8 engines from GM — showing that Chevy already has a proven and preferred off-road power plant at its disposal. The biggest question remaining, then, is when will we see it hit the road…or trail?
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