Omix-ADA / Rugged Ridge just finished putting the wraps on their 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo- a simple and unadulterated celebration of Jeeps past, present and future. While the show is new, only in its second year of existence, the event has grown steadily each year with over two hundred Jeeps migrating to our Suwanee, Georgia facilities to take part in the affair.
One truth that stands out boldly to me every time I attend a Jeep event like this is the true sense of kinship that is shared amongst Jeeps loyal following. It’s the heritage of the Jeep that sets it apart from other cars on the road; and the reason why a gathering of such is different from any other ‘car show’ on the planet. If you drive a Jeep, you have a key part in that heritage and the unique sense of unity that comes with Jeep ownership is your part of the inheritance to cherish.
As I stood at the main entrance of the Heritage Expo with the sun beating down on me relentlessly, I was rewarded in being able to greet Jeep after Jeep-load of enthusiasts as they arrived for the event. Some were locals and had driven for a relatively short time, while others had travelled for untold hours, from many states away, to participate. No matter the distance, visible smiles seemed to declare that it was clearly more than worth the distance covered. Some of the rigs were immaculate, having been detailed and cleaned to the nth degree. Other rides were splattered with mud reminiscent of some previous off-road jaunt, not necessarily recent, but one that finds a way to live on in the owner’s memory by keeping what traces remain for as long as he/she can- like the suntan that remains after a great beach vacation. You hang on to it as long as you possibly can. Each one of the Jeeps is carefully surveyed by the masses as they arrived and given an unstated measure of appreciation. Each one admired for their own merits, each comparable to the next as well as the ones before; all equal regardless of how they came dressed for the party.
This is not anywhere near my first car show, by any means. For as long as I can remember, I have always been into muscle cars, trucks or generally any mechanical contraption with more than one wheel as long as it serves to transport you at a speed greater than which I can walk…preferably something I can fiddle with. While the throngs of muscle car enthusiasts and the cars they relish are still near and somewhat dear to me, the level of exclusion that occurs inside their ranks always impugned any positives for me. The animosity that exists between the Ford guys and the contrasting Chevrolet faithful always seemed to undermine the hobby itself. Since when is a brightly-colored sticker of cartoon juvenile urinating on another car manufacturer’s logo a tool for building comradery? Can’t we just collectively appreciate a piece of automotive engineering that has been painstakingly restored by its owner to new condition without any regard if it is a Fiero or a Ferrari?
The Jeep community largely acknowledges the concept that a show truck has virtues just as commendable as an off-road capable trail rig. It’s not that one is superior to the other but rather that each person buys into the spirit of freedom, capability and adventure that the Jeep represents and adapts the Jeep to fit the lifestyle they prefer. We prefer to celebrate the entire bunch of them, In fact, you can walk into a Jeep dealership and buy a completely stock Jeep Wrangler JK and never modify a thing on it- it just doesn’t matter. You ARE instantly and entirely adopted into the Jeep family and you will be waved at whenever you pass another brother or sister. It’s truly revolutionary to experience and a large part of why we seek to preserve this long-standing heritage for future generations to enjoy.
If you want to find out more about the 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo or see what all the excitement of the Jeep lifestyle is all about- check us out at www.RuggedRidge.com and we hope to see you and your Jeep at next year’s Jeep Heritage Expo in 2018! OlllllllO