Legendary Rubicon Trail Recreated at Chelsea Proving Grounds
17 June 1998Legendary Rubicon Trail Recreated at Chelsea Proving Grounds
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 17 -- A portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range known as the famed Rubicon Trail was recreated at Chrysler Corporation's Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan to test the legendary off-road capability of Jeep(R) vehicles. Five of the most challenging portions of the 22-mile Rubicon Trail, including both Big and Little Sluice, were duplicated in a 350-foot test course at the Chelsea Proving Grounds. The new portion, called the Jeep Sluice Box at Chelsea, is a $100,000 addition to an already extensive four- wheel drive test course that includes challenges such as railroad ties, log piles, stair steps, twisting descents on sandy hills and steep inclines. The Jeep Sluice Box is phase two of a four phase test course project that will cost a total of $300,000. "Jeep owners take their vehicles off-road more than any other brand," said Martin R. Levine, General Manager -- Chrysler/Plymouth/Jeep Division. "But even if they never venture off-road, they know they have the capability to handle even the most difficult trail." Mark Smith, off-road expert and founder of Jeep Jamboree USA, was brought in by Chrysler to duplicate the Rubicon Trail. Smith knows the Rubicon Trail more than anyone since he has been driving Jeep vehicles on it for more than 45 years. "If the vehicle can't make it through this duplicate Rubicon Trail, it will never make it through 22 miles of the real thing in South Lake Tahoe," said Mark Smith. "You will never replace the original Rubicon Trail with its breathtaking views, but this replicated version can be used by Jeep engineers as a preliminary step before they do their testing in California." One thousand tons of rocks, two feet and smaller, and 400 tons of boulders along with 500 tons of asphalt were used to create the Jeep Sluice Box. With this variety of rock and boulders, the drive uphill is completely different than downhill, further extending the testing capabilities of the Jeep Sluice Box. "Whether it's the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee or the next generation Wrangler or Cherokee, Mark Smith's re-creation of the Rubicon Trail allows us to test vehicles throughout the vehicle development process," said Ron Ziegler, Senior Engineer -- Jeep Testing, Chelsea Proving Grounds. "These extreme conditions were once only found in California, now we use these obstacles on a daily basis here at Chelsea." "Anywhere in the world, Jeep vehicles are known for their award-winning four-wheel drive capability," said Levine. "With this new trail, we're ensuring that our vehicles will continue to be Rubicon capable."