As I Recall, Nobody Is Perfect

When I was growing up, I was probably viewed as some kind of a gearhead. I bought my first car at the tender age of fourteen. I spent a lot of my spare time tinkling under the hood or grinding away at the body. I always ran in social circles with the kind of guys who turned wrenches and found trouble by barking tires and practicing red-light launches, or “blatant displays of speed”, as the citation would always read.

I remember a tale I was told, back in the day, by a car-buddy of mine who drove a ’70 Nova SS. He said that you should never buy a car that was built on a Monday. His statement cleverly insinuated that the guys who worked the assembly line would show up for work on a Monday, still a bit hung over from the weekend, and, for that reason, would do a less-than-stellar job. I found it somewhat silly to make such a declaration when the process of finding out what exact week a car was built was as complex as advanced trigonometry, much less the exact day.

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My friend’s statement was founded nonetheless. His Nova, as nice as it was, held a sort-of factory defect itself. His father was the original owner of the car, having purchased it in November of ’69, before passing it on to his son; so its history was pretty well known. On a hot June afternoon, while installing some wiring for a stereo amplifier, the passenger side kick panel was removed to reveal an old Stroh’s beer can crushed flat and nestled inside the hidden cavity behind. The fact that the metal can was heavy and had the old pull tab style top made it seem original to the era. It wasn’t like we ever heard an unknown rattle nor did we smell the stale funk that would surely emanate from a discarded beer can on a hot day, had it not been some 17 years later. We always joked that the UAW workers were literally “lit” while assembling his X-bodied pride & joy. And we may have not been wrong.

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This old yarn was brought to mind recently when the new and highly-touted 2018-19 Jeep Wrangler JL was recalled for faulty welds on its track bar mounts. Nothing stirs up public speculation like a crack in the frame of a brand new vehicle. Is it even possible today that the guy behind the welding gun over at Jeep is all dizzied-up on malted hops? Surely today’s assembler would be sipping coconut water or a soy latte?

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After my recent tour of the Toledo Assembly Plant back in August, I can say definitively NO. In fact, a large majority, if not all, of the welding on the chassis is performed by robotic arms that work efficiently and with exacting precision. The actual temperature of the weld is a known quantity, as is every aspect of the welded union, generating a finished weld that simply can’t be duplicated by even the most skilled human with any degree of regularity. The entire process is monitored by sensors and carefully controlled by an advanced computer system that serves as the brain of the operation. And therein lies the only likely suspect for such a manufacturing flaw.

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So while the level of automation that is incorporated into the assembly of a car has all but eliminated the possibility for human error, the fact that humans are tasked with building the robotics and developing the programs that drive their systems leaves a wide window for such glitches to occur. If nothing else, such a recall should remind us that it’s usually best to wait for the second year of production on a new model before making a purchase; or develop a deeper comfort level with the possibility of such issues arising, knowing that solutions will be swift and exhaustive. That being said, I’m a long way from being comfortable with a computer driving my car for me…those things weld like they’re drunk! OlllllllO

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Training Tomorrow’s Heroes

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in their life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers

When it comes to turning wrenches on a Jeep, too many people would write it off as dirty, knuckle-busting work. While this conclusion is more than substantiated, it fully dismisses the larger truth that hard work, and in this case mechanical work, can be nothing short of good medicine.

In the foothills of southern Tennessee, there is an organization that really “gets it”. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of diagnosis and as they brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. The Foundation has found a way to give these kids and their families a valuable tool with which to fight those daily battles- best of all, it’s a tool that already lies within them. They only need to learn how to access it and perfect it’s usage. In my opinion, what better subject with which to develop their craft than on a Jeep.

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While the Jeep seemed a perfect blank canvas for Hatch’s Kids to practice their magic on, it’s not every day that a brand new Wrangler JKU lands in your lap either, at least not in the real world. Fortunately, the fine folks at the Mtn. View Auto Group see things a little bit differently. They jumped in and fired-up a brand-spanking new Wrangler, hopped on the freeway and dropped it on their doorstep…literally. It still had the paper floor mats in it. But not for long.

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The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s goal was to transform this bone-stock JK into a modern interpretation of the classic Jeepster Commando, an early-70’s rarity that added popular muscle car styling to the time-honored CJ persona. Rugged Ridge donated pile upon pile of parts to accomplish this massive undertaking while Truck ‘N Trailers USA provided enough shop space, lift and tools to build a space shuttle. And to top it off, they’ll accomplish this task with manpower sourced from the families that they serve on a daily basis. Yes…they’re gonna build this beast with kids.

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It was a brilliant plan whose full perfection would not be realized simply or quickly, but through a series of scheduled “Build Days”. Days that were carefully planned to insure success with a project checklist for all to see. A list detailing what needed to be accomplished that day and providing a visual reminder of the team’s successes as items are checked off. While these were likely some tough build days, they are not nearly as tough as the kids who’ve fearlessly tackled them and found ways to laugh and smile through the entire process.

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And now, with all those pesky words out of the way…bask in the glory of Hatch’s Kids building a super-sweet 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition. It doesn’t get any cooler than this.

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So let’s hear it for the Austin Hatcher Foundation family and the outstanding influence this project has had in the lives of these young people. Be sure to keep any eye out for this beauty making appearances at automotive events over the upcoming year. It is possibly half-as-cool as the kids that built it but still way cooler than most anyhting else on the street.  You can find out more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation and the amazing work they perform in the lives of kids affected by cancer by visiting https://www.hatcherfoundation.org/  OlllllllO

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SEMA Cares/Omix-ADA Custom Jeep Raises $85,000 for Charity

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Omix-ADA Jeep Wrangler JK Sport was featured at the 2014 SEMA show which raised $85,000 to help SEMA Cares charities through the Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona.

The Wrangler was purchased through the funds of Omix-ADA’s 2013 SEMA Cares donation. The Jeep was customized through collaboration with Alex Xydias Center for Automotive Arts. The Jeep is offroad ready featuring $30,000 in aftermarket parts and accessories. The build took place at the SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, California by a team of students using parts from several donor companies.

 

Kahn Design Jeep Wrangler

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If your searching for a Jeep that is sleek and modern with a touch of cool than look no further, the Kahn Design Jeep Wrangler is a Sahara 2.8 Diesel. The Wrangler has been given a makeover with exclusive touches that can be found inside and out.

The paint on the Jeep is a Volcanic Bronze that features four slot Chelsea Truck Company grille, front grille industrial mesh, smoked headlamps, privacy glass and Chelsea Truck Company spare wheel cover.

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The interior is just as sleek with front and rear quilted and perforated seats with matching stitching, Chelsea Truck Company spare wheel cover, armrests re-upholstered in quilted and perforated leather, and re-upholstered center glove box.

Jeeps Five Year Plan

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During the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Investors Day meeting it was revealed by Jeeps CEO Michael Manly the ambitious plans for the next half decade that are in store for the Jeep brand. The goal during that period is that FCA will launch Jeep as a lead global brand by boosting sales to 1.9 million units by 2018.

The beginning of this plan will be to launch the new Renegade late this summer that debuted in Geneva. Next will come a new unnamed compact SUV model that will replace the current Patriot and Compass that will arrive in mid 2016 to help celebrate Jeep’s 75th Anniversary. A new generation Wrangler arrives in mid 2017 which will be followed by the all-new Grand Cherokee later that same year. And as if that wasn’t enough the last new arrival will be a large, 3 row SUV that will have the classic Jeep Grand Wagoneer name.

Nothing but good things will be coming from Jeep.

Jeep at Beijing Motor Show

Jeep is making a huge splash at the Beijing Motor Show this year by rolling out four new concepts that are inspired by Chinese culture, design, and fashion. China is the second largest market for Jeep so it is no wonder they are trying to aim their designs towards the country and the market there that is growing rapidly. These four concepts are based off the Renegade, Cherokee, and Wrangler models.

Jeep Zi You Xia

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The Zi You Xia which translate to “rebel” uses the Jeep Renegade for it’s concept. The concept shows off a more refined design that features a warm chocolate gray paint job with dark bronze and charcoal accents on the exterior and interior. Based off the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing for the color palette.

Jeep Cherokee Sageland

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The Sageland is a concept that was inspired by the landmarks and scenery of Shangri-La Region. The ivory-tri-coat exterior with bronze and satin accents portrays the mystical landscape while the interior is Nappa leather seats with water blue accents meant to evoke traditional Chinese knot design, as well as door inserts mimicking the ornamental Chinese door knobs.

Jeep Cherokee Urbane

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The Urbane features a “Maximum Steel” metallic paint job and black accents outside. This concept is after the megacity of China which translates to modern glamour and elegance. Inside, Chinese calligraphy highlights a piano black and red Nappa leather cabin.

Jeep Wrangler Sundancer

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The Sundancer is a mix of fashion with sophistication. A tri-coat Chocolate Brown metallic color with gold accents. The fender flares feature a unique Golden Bronze tone-on-tone ghosted pattern, and the windows have been treated to bronze tinted glass. The interior also features a sleek look with Berry Baltique Semi-Aniline leather seats add a seriously premium flavor, which is enhanced by premium leather trim with hand-sewn stitching.

Jeep introduces six new concepts for Moab Easter Jeep Safari

Jeep shared six new concepts for the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari event.  This event brings thousands of Jeep fans together for a weeks worth of serious off-roading that takes place on the country’s best trails of Moab, Utah. This event is being held now through the 20th.

The vehicles are designed with Chrysler’s Mopar parts and service brand. The six vehicles include three custom Wranglers, two Cherokees, and one Grand Cherokee. Jeep and Mopar team up for this event to showcase different production and prototype parts that are to better the Jeep for extreme trail performance and gauge customer interest.

Jeep Wrangler Level Red

The Wrangler Level Red was named after the highest level of difficulty an off-road trail can be designated as. The Wrangler comes equipped to handle the challenging off-road terrains with Jeep Performance Parts from 2-inch lift kit, Dana 44 crate axles, and Rock-Trac transfer case. The 3.6-liter engine with a six-speed manual transmission is improved with a cold-air intake and low restriction exhaust system.

The look of the Wrangler has been modified with a Mopar half-door kit and the exterior upgrades includes: a tire carrier, locking gas cap, hood prop kit and rock rails.

 

Jeep Wrangler MOJO

The Jeep Wrangler MOJO is aimed toward the off-road enthusiast who is more daring on the trails and needs a tougher vehicle. The Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift provides the clearance to traverse obstacles, with the locking Dana 44 front and rear axles and Rock-Trac transfer case for great rock-climbing capabilities.

The capabilities of the Jeep don’t stop when the sun goes down, it is equipped with prototype LED headlamps and fog lamps. A soft top with front and rear half door kits gives the Jeep a open-air feel for more fun.

 

Jeep Wrangler Maximum Performance

The Jeep Wrangler Maximum Performance is for the enthusiast who stays on the trail every second they can and needs more power so they can go anywhere others cannot.  The Wrangler is of course equipped with all the right gear from new Jeep Performance Parts push-button electric locking Dana 60 axles, Rock-Trac transfer cases and 4-inch lift kit.

 

Jeep Cherokee Adventurer

The Jeep Cherokee Adventurer has Trailhawk 4×4 capability, including 48:2 crawl ratio and a list of Jeep Performance Parts from Mopar. Rock rails provide off-road defense and more protection with two piece underbody skid plate.
Jeep Cherokee Dakar

The Jeep Cherokee Dakar is the most extreme Cherokee. The exterior features a silver steel satin gloss with flame red graphics, and the 17-in polished satin clear coat wheels set off the look. Front-end features are

enhanced by two prototype Flame Red inserts on the traditional Jeep seven-slot grille, as well as through a prototype lower fascia trim. Cherokee Dakar is fortified for off-road action, equipped with Jeep Performance Parts rock rails, an oil pan skid plate, front suspension skid plate, two-piece fuel tank and underbody skid plates.

 

Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Trail Warrior

The Trail Warrior has more capability and convenience to the most-awarded sport-untility vehicle ever with parts from Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar accessories. Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel sits higher thanks to its Quadra-Lift air suspension. The Mojave Sand exterior color is dressed with Satin Black flourishes on the grille, hood, lower front fascia, door handles, mirror caps, wheel flares and badging. The prototype Mopar roof basket, mounted on production cross rails, provides plenty of space to transport gear and provisions.

 

 

2015 Jeep Renegade

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Just when you thought that Jeep couldn’t get anymore new wave with their Jeeps here comes the 2015 Jeep Renegade to make you take a second glance. Jeep is importing this crossover built in Melfi Italy on a platform shared with the Fiat 500L. The Renegade takes the Jeep brand to new heights adding it to the category of ultra-compact crossovers which includes the KIA Soul and other competitors.

The size of the Jeep can only be described as cute in many scenarios and that could be a good thing if they are trying to reach a new market but for hardcore Jeep fans it could be a major turn off. The good news is Jeep has at least made one version that can withstand a dirty flogging on a mountain. Base models will be front-wheel drive, but full-time 4×4 (“Jeep Active Drive”) will be available on all models. All 4WD models offer Selec-Terrain dynamic modes that optimize traction for snow, sand, mud and, on the Trailhawk, rock crawling.

The Renegade offers the same features as the upper-level Jeeps but just in a smaller body such as a smartphone-integrated infotainment system with 5- and 6.5-inch touchscreens, a 7-inch configurable gauge display, and driver aids that include a rearview camera, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision warning. The Renegade even borrows a cue from the Wrangler, allowing the outside in with dual sunroofs.
This Jeep should be hitting the market in 2015 January.

Full Metal Jacket Jeep

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Well if you thought R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket was a bad you know what than you are quite mistaken. This customized Jeep from Starwood Motors is completely deck out for some rugged adventures. Power comes from Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that’s good for 285 hp, allowing for a 0-60 time of 8.4 seconds. And if your looking to be bullet proof than the suspension on here will do you good and the lift kit as well. The interior also features kevlar lining and a tucked away safe. The thing is just as comfortable driving the highway as it is the rocks and pits off-road adventures bring. But for us this car is for dreamers cause the price tag around 100,000 is pretty steep but oh we can dream right…?

Jeep Celebrates its Heritage With Willys Edition Wrangler

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The Jeep was originally built for military use and gained a reputation on the battlefields of World War II. After the war was over the civilian CJ was made available to the public. So to pay tribute to the old time beauty Jeep has created a limited 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition that will debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is inspired by early Willys CJ (Civilian Jeep) models with exclusive styling and upgraded off-road goodies. Starting with a Wrangler Sport, these upgrades include a Dana 44 rear axle with limited-slip differential and 3.73 gears, along with meaty BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain tires mounted to the Willys Wheeler’s black 17-inch wheels. For more of a classic Jeep look, this model adds a gloss black grille, “Willys” hood stickers and rock rails to protect the side sills. Jeep is also tossing in a D-ring, tow strap and gloves that are all kept in a special carrying bag.

When it goes on sale early next year, the two-door Willys Wheeler Edition will start at $26,790 and the Unlimited four-door models at $30,590. That pricing reflects a premium of $3400 for either version, but there is quite a bit that comes with the package.