This 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer Concept reminds us of “What if?”

One of the recognized vehicles of the Jeep® brand is undoubtedly the Wagoneer (SJ). As the first four-wheel drive vehicle (4×4) coupled to an automatic transmission, it pioneered the first modern SUV. Consisting of three models (Wagoneer, Cherokee, and Grand Wagoneer) for 29 years, the SJ was the third-longest-produced single-generation car in U.S. automotive history.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept. (abimelecdesign).

We have seen some great car designs from various car artists over the past few years. One of our favorite digital artists, Abimelec Arellano (@abimelecdesign) now has a column on the Hagerty website called “What If”. The column uses Abimelec’s creative mind to create vehicles from an “alternative universe” that was never put into production here.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept. (abimelecdesign).

One such vehicle that caught our eye was his SJ-based 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 design. In 1987 the then Chrysler Corporation, faced with financial difficulties, bought Jeep’s parent company, American Motor Corporation (AMC). But “what if”, despite Chrysler Corporation itself having financial problems, it had bought AMC ten years earlier? Could we have seen a Dodge Durango SUV sooner? And what would it look like?

Combining a 1979 Jeep Wagoneer with the design of a 1979 Dodge D-100 Adventurer pickup, the 1979 Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 concept looks like something that could have actually existed in the late 1970s. And like all Durango of the modern area, this concept transforms the two-row Wagoneer into a full-size three-row SUV.

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Taking advantage of the grille and quad headlights design of the 1979 D-100, the Durango concept looks very Dodge in advance. Bold chrome bumpers, 5-spoke aluminum wheels styled after the units of the Li’l Red Express, and a bold graphics package make the Durango stand out. We especially like the little details on the exterior, such as the “Direct Connection” and “We Can Do It – Chrysler Corporation” bumper stickers on the rear bumper.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept. (abimelecdesign).

Inside, there is an all-red interior with the D-100 dashboard, shift-on-the-fly 4×4 transfer case on the floor and ample seating for 7 passengers. A center console from a 1991 to 1993 Ram D-150 was placed between the front seats, providing a sturdy, molded plastic space to rest your hand and your drink. We also see a modern set of Chrysler-sourced belt buckles next to that center console. The rest of the interior is strictly Wagoneer.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept. (abimelecdesign).

Abimelec also envisions its Durango being powered by two V8 engine options. The first is the proven 5.9-liter (360 cubic inch) V8. Now both the Wagoneer and D-100 offered a 360 cubic inch V8 in their arsenal. The Mopar-based small block produced about 185 horsepower at the time. His second engine option was the mighty 7.2-liter (440 cubic inch) big block V8. Although the 440 was dropped from the lineup in 1978, this is an alternate universe, so let’s just say it went through. The 440 offered 255 horsepower, despite all the emissions garbage added in the late 1970s. In this conceptual application, both engines were mated to the bulletproof A727 3-speed automatic transmission.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept. (abimelecdesign).

What really amazes us is Abimelec’s attention to detail in creating even a period-correct ad for his 1979 Dodge Durango. He also created several color schemes to match the design, with the Citron Green Metallic paintwork and white exterior decals our favorite. were choice.

So what do you think of this conceptual take on an SJ-based Durango? Let us know in the comments below or on the MoparInsiders.com forums.

Be sure to check out Abimelec’s “What If” article on Hagerty.com.

The 1979 “What If” Dodge Durango Adventurer 4×4 Concept Image Gallery:

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