When Mark Allen started at Jeep, the brand just had three vehicles.
Today’s FCA (and Stellantis, it’s parent company) comprises quite a few well-known brands, but arguably none are as iconic as Jeep. It’s a cornerstone of the American car industry, and Mark Allen has been heading up efforts to design the brand as we know it today for nearly 30 years. Now, after expanding the lineup from just three models in 1994 to a host of SUVs and coming up with concept build after concept build, he’s passing the torch and retiring from the industry.
Stellantis posted the announcement on their Facebook page:
Ever since he was five years old, Mark Allen knew he wanted to design cars. Cars — not Jeeps, as he originally aimed to join the Chrysler design team. After studying at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, he landed an internship under Chrysler Corporation’s Tom Gale (then head of design), but it was instead in the Jeep Truck studio. “I wanted to be a car designer; Jeep was all about trucks,” he said.
Then he attended his first Easter Jeep Safari in 2003.
“The whole vibe of the event really turned the corner for me, and I became a super Jeep enthusiast.” After the event, he went out and bought himself a 2001 Wrangler TJ, which he still owns. Allen worked with and eventually led the “SkunkWerks” team (later renamed [Mopar] Underground to head off challenges from Lockheed Martin), creating the 2004 Jeep KJ “Liberator” Liberty concept for SEMA, and so many others. Over the past two decades, Jeep has since used Easter Jeep Safari as a showcase for all its new concepts, right up to the modern vehicles including the Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT.
Out of all the concepts, though, Allen’s favorite is the Jeep Nukizer 715, a nod to the military-only Kaiser M-715 truck. “If I could take one home with me, this would be it.”
Today, Jeep is by far Stellantis’ most successful brand, in terms of sales volume and probably mind share as well. From the compact Renegade to the Grand Wagoneer, Mark Allen has been a crucial part of the design team that makes it all happen.
So, with his 30-year-career at Jeep coming to a close, what does he want folks to think about his legacy? “That I didn’t screw it up,” he laughs. Of course, his colleagues expressed their admiration on the eve of his departure, including Stellantis Chief Design Officer Ralph Gilles. “I hope that when he looks back on his career, he feels the way we do, which is gratification for the legacy he helped to create that will be enjoyed by the world for years to come.”
Over the years, we at TFL Studios have sampled every modern Jeep as well as all the wacky and wonderful concepts at Easter Jeep Safari and beyond. We’ve been huge fans of his work over the years and wish him all the best in his retirement. As for where the Jeep brand goes from here…well, that’s unclear. What is loudly clear, though, is that Mark Allen’s replacement will have some huge shoes to fill.