A Meager Attempt at Deciphering the “Jeep Wave”

If you’ve ever driven a Jeep, particularly the breed without a fixed roof, you certainly are all-too-familiar with the cultural phenomenon known as the “Jeep Wave”- a universally accepted social gesture that is as equally deeply-rooted in the Americana of our great country as it is both misunderstood and under-appreciated. How is it that a simple wave, in passing, could somehow be more than that?7113uRUOriL._SY550_

The suspected origin of our revered wave goes way back to a time when our country was embroiled in the throes of World War II, a conflict which engaged our nation’s people unlike any other event ever had. A byproduct of this engagement was symbolized in the way that corporations stepped up to support the war effort in any way they were able. Companies like Ford and Willys-Overland were called upon to produce four-wheel drive reconnaissance vehicles for use by troops and military personnel, both at home and abroad. Out of ingenuity and necessity, the great-grandfather of today’s Jeep Wrangler was born in the form of Ford GPW and Willys MA & MB, or “jeeps” as they were often called by Army personnel.

As G.I.’s scurried back and forth in their Willys MB’s, they would often give a slight, subtle “wave” to other jeeps passed in their travels as a means of signifying that they were, indeed, allies or friendlies; often nothing more than two fingers raised from a hand otherwise preoccupied with clinching firmly the Willy’s massive steering wheel and keeping it centered in the ruts and out of the ditches. In the interest of safety, there was no rank recognized or observed and no salutes given on these short jaunts, so as not to tip off anyone to the presence of a high ranking officer who was out for am unescorted drive.

1236225_955577261184220_3172942738949244778_n

As the war came to a close, the army’s surplus of these vehicles was liquidated and many military soldiers were offered a “war-certified” used Willys Jeep to purchase for little more than a song…some for as little as $400. Many of these were quickly snatched up for use on family farms back home or for basic transportation needs. The sight of these military hand-me-downs grew in regularity leading up to the eventual late 40’s release of the Willys adapted for civilian consumption, the CJ. For this reason, many of the people who drove these vehicles in the years immediately following the war associated closely and personally with another passing Jeep, identifying them as being a “brother”; someone who had also served their country and given a sacrifice similar to their own. Someone worthy of respect and even some level of mutual admiration. With no real intentions, the “Jeep Wave” was born.

wave

How it continues to thrive today, 75 years later, can only be described as “A Jeep Thing”. Something that no one can truly explain but a phenomenon that anyone that has ever driven a Jeep can certainly attest to.

jeep_wave

SO…why would anybody choose to drive a vehicle where a 10-minute drive to the grocery market can be transformed into an aerobic workout? At some point, would this not become annoying? To answer in a word, No.  Why would anyone, especially someone with the presence of an otherwise sound mind, allow themselves to be instinctively programmed to wave at every Jeep they pass, even in the dark, triggered only by the glow of those tell-tale closely-spaced round headlights? Heck, even when they are driving their “other” vehicles that AREN’T Jeeps – we often still wave!

jeep wave

I think that today’s version of the “Jeep Wave” can be best analyzed by classifying those people who, by their own choice, drive a Jeep today. These are, in large, people who longs for adventure, love the outdoors, isn’t afraid to get a little wet in a downpour and possessing an inherent understanding that the destination is often not nearly as important as the experience enjoyed in getting there. To own a vehicle with such therapeutic qualities is unbeatable. A 30-minute ride home at sunset with the wind blowing through your hair seems to heal the soul. There really is no equal, even when you take into consideration the relentless task of waving at every Jeep that passes you by.

maxresdefaultSo keep waving when you see a fellow Jeep owner out on the road (Yes, even the ZJs), whether you’re paying homage to the past or celebrating the unique camaraderie we share as fellow Jeepers in the present. Wave, smile and know …..It’s a Jeep Thing!! OlllllllO

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Coming to Grips with the Then & Now

How often do you come across somebody who keeps their high school yearbook on the coffee table, out for everyone to see? Unless graduation was in extremely recent history, I’d be willing to bet those annuals are buried deep in the recesses of the attic. Buried under cardboard boxes of dusty keepsakes and discarded Christmas decorations. Even though our high school years often represent some of our fondest memories and treasured friendships, we in large part don’t want to be reminded of what once was; certainly not in the form of pictures.

Celebrities are often refused this brand of self-seclusion. They are often “outed” by their former class mates eager to share a few rays of the spotlight by exposing their old prep school pals for all to see. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad, but always entertaining.

harrison-ford

When it comes to Jeeps, a ”Before & After” comparison might be more in order. The new 2018 Wrangler JL has only been on the streets a few months and the changes between it and it’s JK predecessor can make for some pretty telling photos, on par with any liposuction or rhinoplasty you can muster…for the better, of course.

 

3e1341485650a59b028244aa2f66e552

The changes observed in the Jeep design over the past decades are too numerous to count and yet, while many of the changes have not been subtle, the effect they have had on the overall image of the Jeep are impressively small. Certainly when compared to any other long-standing car nameplate. Take a minute to enjoy Jeeps yearbook photos past & present!

Capture2

Capture04

 

Capture06

 

Capture62

 

Capture76

 

Capture78

 

Capture81

 

Capture82

When you look at images of Jeep’s past side by side with it’s present, so much has changed and yet so much is still the same. We can confidently display (and, hopefully, still drive) our past while we proudly show off our present and wait patiently for what the future holds. Because Jeep shows it’s age in the best ways possible. OlllllllO

Steven-Tyler-Then-and-Now

(SORRY….couldn’t help myself)

awkward-yearbook-photos-ryan-seacrest

(Oooops…my bad)

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

 

 

Passing On a Passion

I don’t think anyone ever forgets their very first car. That first set of wheels is something that most people are able to look back on fondly. Not that the car was anything to admire, but because of the fact that, despite its usual cosmetic and mechanical fallacies, your first car represented a newfound sense of personal freedom; the ability to go where you want and do the things you want to do. Of course, hidden in the fine print of this new mobility is all of the responsibility that comes along with this privilege. Your first time making a car payment and fretting over the seemingly wasteful expense of insuring the car are things that stick with you and prepare you for what life has in store for you.

junker

My first car was not a Jeep, nor was the second, the third or fourth. In fact, I am relatively new to the realm of being a Jeep owner. My first Jeep was purchased a mere 11 years ago- a bone stock 1993 Wrangler YJ complete with de-arched leaf springs and a spice-colored factory soft top that was so advanced in age that just the thought of trying to lower or remove the top caused every stitched seam to disintegrate into handfuls of powdery residue. It was cheap and perfectly fit my primary criteria in that, by unwritten law, I am not able to own any car that I don’t have to repair on a more-than-regular basis. It’s in my DNA, I guess.

Underneath my Jeeps crappy exterior lurked a beast of similar unfulfilled potential. A pint-sized 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine capable of generating a staggering 119 hp in ideal conditions had grown weary of its daily duties. In comparison, the AX-5 five-speed transmission proved to be so efficient at its job that it was able to reach top speed of 57 mph while still in fourth gear, making fifth gear utterly useless unless hauling a load of Quik-rete down a really long grade.

100_0974

My youngest son Owen was only a four-year old tike when I brought the old Jeep home- a fact that proves wonderful in that a child of such an age only sees the good in things. He was not at all phased by the lack of performance or by the fact that every single mechanical component on the Jeep was reaching the end of its trouble-free lifespan. He simply loved the vehicle for how it made him feel when he rode in it. Honestly, I was the same way. How could such a troublesome vehicle be so darn endearing?

Weekend camping trips and chilly early-morning drives with the top down to soccer games served as appetizers for Owen to develop a taste for what it’s like to own a Jeep. As time has passed, the list of upgrades and revisions the YJ has undergone has grown and grown. Bigger engine, larger tires and a transmission fitted with ample gearing ratios to make the old YJ more of a pleasure to own were each added in their own due time. Many of which Owen witnessed firsthand, or engaged in directly by lending a hand turning a wrench or holding a work light. All the while quietly growing his vested interest and developing a passion for something, even if he was unaware of it. So when he secured his learners permit last year, I was not surprised to learn of his desire to make his first set of wheels a Jeep. But not just A Jeep…but MY Jeep.

1554344_10204343475694172_6793561855721655948_n

I can’t think of anyone that I would rather assume the driving duties of my beloved YJ than my own son. Sure, I’ll have to farm out several of my internal organs to pay for insurance and I’ll have to go out and find an adequate replacement in which to shuttle myself to and from work. Not to mention a subject to occupy my abundance of free time. I’ll probably even upgrade my standing in the Jeep community a little bit in the process. Maybe a Rubicon and certainly something with coil springs. But nothing too perfect…I don’t think I would have as deep a love for my YJ if it weren’t for willingly accepting all her faults.  OlllllllO

03rubi2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

 

“Jeep Stacking” and Its Obvious Barnyard Origins

Human beings, by and large, are considered to be superior beings in just about every way. Just the fact that “we” have the wherewithal to put on pants and a shirt before we leave the house every day is clear indication that we have quite a lot going on upstairs, especially compared to other species. Dressing oneself is a totally manual process; one that requires vast mental aptitude compared to, say, a fish that merely changes its exterior coloring to blend in with its present environment. Do they have even the slightest regard for whether or not they are wearing white after Labor Day? I think not.

One symbol of man’s lofty intellectual standing is the practice of “Jeep Stacking”- the art of driving one Jeeps front tires up the perimeter of and ultimately resting atop another Jeeps tire. While this custom is relatively new to the Jeep community, I think the roots from which it stems goes back quite a ways- certainly before the age of smartphones and alcohol-free impaired driving.stackb&w

My first personal knowledge of the practide of stacking Jeeps was at a local car show a good number of years back. A guy pulled up next to me in a highly-modified Cherokee XJ and asked if he could “prop” on me. I honestly didn’t have any idea of what the prospect of him “propping” on me might actually entail but I felt sudden and sure concern that it might involve, at the very least, some sweaty hand-holding. So as not to be ostracized by the Jeep community I gave him permission to invade my personal space and then winced while I waited to what might lie in store for me.

After a few frustrating minutes, I came to full awareness that the idea of propping your Jeep on a neighboring vehicle might seem cool to some, but to those without a front locking differential ends up seeming more like an aggravating exercise in futility; an operation that seems hell-bent on either breaking your tire’s bead, your outer tie rod or both, depending on which poses the greatest inconveneince. MY newfound friend and propping partner became increasingly discouraged by his vehicles inability to perform the desired parking spot acrobatics, at which point he opted for climbing the curb and parking in a more mundane manner.

prop2

It seems to me that this practice of Jeep stacking is really just a public display of Jeeps climbing capabilty, with a subtle insinuation of one Jeeps superiority over another. Any idea where this sort of animalistic behavior comes from?? Well…think no farther than your friendly neighborhood barnyard goat. In case you misunderstood,  I said goat.

goatcar

Goats were created with an inherent sense of climbing capability and they’re internally driven to show every other creature in the yard who’s on top, even the other goats. If you have some goats in the field, they’ll do their best to climb on top of whatever they find at hand (or hoof). Sheds, troughs, dirt piles, junker cars, dog houses and certainly tires. They don’t even show the same basic courtesy as a human by asking to “prop” before they mount your mud-terrain.  No, they just climb up there like it’s their tire and as though they were pleasant to look at- both of which are serious misconceptions.

imageedit_3_5914138793

I intend to insinuate that, with no real proof or even reasonable evidence,that goats are solely to blame for our current automotive affliction known as “Jeep Stacking”- a scapegoat of sorts. But you may ask “How did a simple-minded barnyard beast gain exposure to our automotive culture?”. Let’s just say, somebody may have left the gate open…

1Goat-D_C.preview

We unknowingly gave said goat unlimited access to our vehicular refuse that we so innocently put out to pasture.  And then, in a less-than-genius attempt to expand our own personal transportation options, we overlooked the goats inability to walk upright and harnessed them with the power to travel the earth as though they were gods. We willingly gave wheels to one of our more cockamamie creatures and expected no foul consequences in return? It seems to me that the horses and donkeys were doing a fine job of pulling our carts up to that point. If only we could have left the goats secluded in their pen, ramming their tufted noggins into tree trunks and perching themselves on tractor tires.

goatcart2

While the above speculation borders on being a work of complete fiction, the similarities between the driven Jeep and the agility of a goat or ram is uncanny. Both are able to go where they want with minimal effort giving both a sense of near invincibility. That being said, I think it’s high time we drew some distinct lines between our beloved Jeeps and the behaviors of these boorish barnyard billies. OlllllllO

15002937404_5e5c346dcd_b2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Jeeping: Learned Behavior or Innate Instinct?

I recall the first time I took my mother for a ride in my lifted Jeep. This classy young lady is perfectly-aged and has seen an awful lot in her multitude of 80-some-odd years; not only giving birth to five children but sticking around to raise each and every one them too. She’s seen and experienced so much, so hopping into a Jeep for a sunset ride sounded like a perfect notion, even at her age. Nonetheless, it would appear to any onlookers that the task of climbing in or out of my precious Wrangler was far from a natural process, at least for her. In fact, I think she made her dismount from the passenger seat much like you would a bareback horse. You sling both legs over the side, aim your feet towards the earth, pucker slightly and begin a sliding sort of descent to ground. If all goes well, you land on firm terrain or, in this case, your son catches you clumsily, hence breaking your fall.

20141020_145202

Come to think of it, the art of climbing up into my Jeep is not the most natural of motions either. I can count on at least two hands the times I have either ripped the seat of my pants, banged my knee cap on the dash panel or temporarily lost my sense of balance while scaling the massive metal structure, scrambling to grasp at the steering wheel as the only hope of taking a tumble. Not to mention the number of times I have snagged a belt loop on the door latch plate on the way back out- every pair of jeans I own bares the mark in one place or the other.

So if Jeeping is not a completely natural way of life for humans, it must be somewhat a learned behavior. Or at the very least, one that takes a considerable amount of time to grow accustomed to.

When it comes to dogs, I really have to wonder if the opposite might be true. We have had the same family dog for the better part of ten years. She is a wonderful mix of several breeds, short and close to the ground (she takes after her grandma). She is openly and utterly incapable of climbing into the Jeep under her own power. Someone would have to not only pick her up to place her in the vehicle, but likely have to administer a sedative to keep her from coming completely unhinged and flinging herself to an untimely death over the nearest door ledge in a frantic attempt to get back out. She literally wants no part of going for a ride in the Jeep. For the record, the Jeep has never been used for trips to the vet for shots or gender reassignment surgery.  She rather dislikes it on a cellular level, despite only having had positive Jeep experiences.

IMG_0557

So, after much deliberation, we recently decided to increase the size of our family by one. We located a 5-year old Walker Coon Hound in a local rescue that seemed like the perfect fit. It was only after we had signed all the papers and posed for all the pictures that I was struck by a shocking display of familiarity by our newest adopted child. Our new girl “Rosie” ran around to the back of the Jeep and leaped through the barely- open tailgate. She didn’t even wait for me to lift the rear window! It was though she had ridden in a Jeep before. Our decision to adopt this hound was now firmly founded in my heart and set in concrete that this newfound stepchild was meant to be.

IMG_0570

So maybe Rosie had a prior owner that drove a Jeep which makes her familiar with her recommended means of entry. I can buy that. She is by birth a hunter, and a human hunter would likely drive a Jeep or some other four-wheel drive conveyance to get in and back out of the woods. But there is so much more to being a Jeeper than getting in and out physically. In the two weeks we have owned her, I have found that any physical motion that I engage in that evenly vaguely suggests that I am going to the garage, Rosie thinks it’s time for a Jeep ride. When I take her for a walk, she stops by and places her front legs on the Jeeps lofty rear bumper. She paces in circles by the passenger side door in hopes of gaining a coveted front seat position, despite usually being reserved for humans. She even whimpers a bit when I pull her past its perimeter. Kinda like the noise I make when I leave the Jeep behind in the garage at night.

IMG_0568

So if riding in a vehicle has become enjoyable to Rosie based on her past experiences, it would stand to reason that she would show similar excitement around our other cars. To the contrary, she seems to hold total disregard for more luxurious modes of transport; ones adorned with leather seats, snazzy NAV systems, and air conditioning. It’s only the Jeep that holds her interest. Maybe it’s the attraction of an interior she knows I can hose out if things go badly. Certainly the wind blowing herr floppy ears and across the nose is a favorite too, but I can’t help but think that maybe her love for Jeeps is more than that. Maybe it’s something she was born with? I guess she takes after her Dad. OlllllllO

IMG_0541

IMG_0564

Photo Credit: Evan Coolidge

 

 

 

 

 

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Go Topless Day 2018…Are YOU Ready??

  If you are a Jeeper, you need to know that All Things Jeep’s Go Topless Day® 2018 is less than a month away and it promises to be the biggest one yet. If you’ve not yet made plans to attend or at least participate in your own celebration, time is growing short so we are here to help you make the best of this annual celebration. Join us as we revel in the return of warm weather in the best way possible… by taking our tops off! Here’s all you need to know:

GTD2018

1-       Get your Go Topless Day stickers so you can help spread the word. All you’ve got to do is send a self-addressed envelope to the address below and they will send you a GTD2018 decal for FREE. That’s right, FREE!! Of course, you can buy them too so you have one for every vehicle you own. While you’re at it, snag an official GTD2018  shirt and lots of other awesome Jeep wear too at www.allthingsjeep.com

GTDSticker

 

 

All Things Jeep

GTD 2018 Bumper Sticker Request

20 Mill Street, Suite 136

Pepperell, MA 01463

 

 

 

 

 

2-       There are tons of special GTD2018 events happening all around the world. Fortunately for you, finding one to attend couldn’t be much easier.

 

        https://www.allthingsjeep.com/jeep-clubs-going-topless-2018.html

 Just one click and you can view an interactive map that shows you where all of the topless fun is at. There are club meets, Jeep shows, trail rides and loads of gatherings from coast to coast. Of course, even if you can’t make it to any of the official GTD2018 happenings, you can still participate by simply taking the top off your Jeep and getting out to enjoy the day. It’s that easy!

 

3-     While you’re out running around with your top off, it’s very important to make sure that your backside is properly covered and there’s no better-looking way to do that than with an official Go Topless Day® spare tire cover. You will soon find that the only thing better than driving around topless is that feeling of knowing that everyone is busy admiring your rear end. If you want to treat your backside, you can get yours at www.allthingsjeep.com/go-topless-day-stuff.html in a wide range of sizes so everyone can find adequate coverage.

GTDMoab

4-     Last but certainly not least- when Go Topless Day® 2018 finally arrives on May 19,2018, no matter where you are or what you choose to do, get outside and enjoy the outdoors in your Jeep. It’s that spirit of adventure and the freedom to follow your own path that makes driving a Jeep so special. So lose those tops, if only for one day, and let’s show the world that everything is better in a Jeep.           OlllllllO

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Goin’ With Your Gut

It’s been a more than a year that the media has spent speculating about the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. Another few months that we’ve been treated to a virtual deluge of actual coverage, reviews and photographs of the new model since it’s unveiling. Since it might be a few months until the new JL becomes a common sight around town, this coverage has helped us develop a fairly strong first impression based on what we’ve seen. Or is it more of a pre-disposition?

Working for a company that makes part for Jeeps, we’ve had several JL’s on order for quite a while now. We’ve waited earnestly, accepted delay after added delay and grown rather impatient to finally accept delivery of our first JL- a startling 2018 Unlimited Rubicon in white.

IMG_20180131_105840424_HDR

To be honest with you, the initial hours that passed after the arrival of our newest Jeep kinda resembled that of a crate full of supplies being dropped by airplane into the territory of some uncivilized native tribe. There was instant chaos, barely enough room to stand around the Jeep’s perimeter as every sort of intrigued employee carefully evaluated seating amenities and interior trim all while design engineers systematically deconstructed every mechanical assembly they could access. Measuring dimensions and gauging hardware specs with wild abandon and I’m not even sure the factory paint was dry yet.

IMG_20180119_101015505

For those reasons, I held the new JL at a reasonable distance, ignoring my obvious curiosity until the furor recedes; choosing rather to absorb what others initial observations were about what they had seen and sensed. Not adopting those opinions as my own but rather making them my “foster opinions” until that day that I would become a worthy of experiencing the JL for myself and creating my own opinions, at which time I would then leave my old foster opinions off at the end of an old country dirt road in hopes of them not finding their way home again.

IMG_20180205_124514561

For the large part, everyone around spoke very highly of the newest Wrangler. Testifying to its greatly refined interior, improved dash layout and tasteful red accent stitched upholstery were common remarks. The exterior held some obvious changes but nothing groundbreaking. I was taken back a little by someone who noted that the new JL was not a completely new design- not far enough removed visually from the prior JK’s appearance. While I can see some merit in this viewpoint, I can say that choosing to start over from scratch when revamping a successful platform would likely be an unwise choice for an automotive designer to make. It goes back to the old saying “dance with the one that brung ya” that seems to make the most sense. Wiping the slate clean of all the facts, figures and framework that got you to where you are today would likely bolster your failure, certainly in the eyes of those you hope to satisfy the most.

IMG_20180119_101200744

Once the initial peak of enthusiasm had passed, I began seeking an opportunity to get behind the leather-wrapped wheel and take our new JL for a test drive. At each inquiry, the Jeep was perpetually involved in some cumbersome short-term relationship with some random guy with an Engineering degree and wandering hands. Parts of her would be strewn across the shop floor as she was endlessly measured and made the subject of countless test-fitments. All of which impeded my desire to take her out for a spin myself; a chance to build an opinion all my own and not tainted by others prejudices. And so I waited.

26962331_10157580475913868_5342167547455601994_o

The amount of pre-release pandemonium that surrounded the new JL was unlike anything we’ve seen before. Not just for Jeep but for most any vehicle. The fact that the JL is an extensively-re-imagined successor to an off-road icon that has been around for the better part of a century meant that everyone in the automotive community seemed to be watching. Watching. And judging. In the first few weeks since release, Jeep enthusiasts have taken the new JL on everything from test drives and off-road excursions to cross-country treks, evaluating every facet of the Jeeps design in real world scenarios; letting us all in on their conclusions and sparing no details. Prospective buyers of the new JL have more carnal knowledge of what they’re in for than any other new car can boast. We all know how great knowledge is and how limited it can be until it is paired with experience.

One particular outlet took a brand new Wrangler JL 4-door and converted it into a stretched wheelbase custom 2-door riding on 42” tall tires in a ridiculously cool off-road build. While such a build does not provide as much insight into the stock JL’s credentials, it does speak very highly as to the strength of the foundation on which they built off of. Much like the prior JK served as the base for just about anything the enthusiast could dream up- the new JL delivers the same in spades.

27072347_1652188551504610_7545471700234657793_n

Photo Courtesy of Dynatrac

As of today, I can proudly declare that have been able to drive our new JL for a grand total of 5.6 miles and have attained a top speed of 51 mph. While this is neither noteworthy or grounds for forming a very detailed opinion, I can tell you that the road manners of the new JL are much improved over any JK I have ever driven and the driving experience, however short, was far superior in comparison. Heck, I think the JL might have even met my expectations which were pretty lofty. The 3.6 liter Pentastar power plant in our Rubicon seemed to provide a much smoother transfer of power than on the previous platforms. I can’t wait to experience the long-awaited 2.0 I-4 turbo diesel and accompanying 8-speed automatic on a muddy trail somewhere and as soon as it is available…hopefully more than 6 miles away. We can dream, can’t we?  OlllllllO

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Well, He Clearly Has His Fathers Eyes but Where’d He Get Those Hips?

CJ5corner

Take one look at any Jeep CJ5 and it’s pretty easy to see from whence it came. With those bug-eyed headlights straddling that stately slotted grille, the CJ5’s front fascia has become as recognizable as any in all of autodom. What about some of the other oddly distinct characteristics of the CJ5? The ones you may have glanced at before and wondered “What?’.  There are more than a couple irregularities about the CJ5’s appearance that beg for explanation; at the very least, it’s a topic that makes for some interesting chitchat when idle attempts at conversations about the weather fall short.

 

The Willys CJ5 was introduced in 1955 and was most notably remembered as the first civilian Jeep to have the softer, rounded fenders- a stylish departure from the flat-fendered form of its forefathers. Much like the CJs of the previous decade, the CJ5 was a direct offspring of a military model, the M38-A1. Produced by Willys beginning in 1952, the M38-A1 is the explicit template for which the CJ5 owes the majority of its most prominent character traits. And what a template it proved to be, launching the CJ5 to a historic near thirty-year production run with no significant changes- a boast that no other brand or badge can profess.

m381

One particular attribute of the M38-A1 that was passed on to the CJ5 was the odd V-shaped notches that extend downward from the upper body crease just behind the rear wheel arches. While the earlier Jeep models had entirely flat bedsides, the M38-A1 utilized a contoured bedside which gave the side panel more rigidity. The indentions were made to the side panels to allow for fitment of older style top bow assemblies that have pivots mounted outside of the tub rails.

Capture8

While the CJ5 had a soft top frame mounted inboard of the tub rails, it maintained the tub notches until the 1976-77 production era, when the price for retooling was more easily justified in the interest of maintaining parity with the newer CJ7 models. By this time, untold thousands of CJ5s were already on the roads, all blessed with a factory birthmark giving a secretive hat-tip to its military lineage.

CJ5-5

Another styling que that can be directly linked to the CJ5’s militray ancestors is the often-seen and seldom understood passenger side hood scallop. While it’s existence is solely attributed to the need for an intake snorkel on military models, the fact that it remained a fixture on regular production CJ5’s until the mid-60’s is a bit surprising. The M38-A1 was fitted with special waterproof ignition components that made the possibility of fording a water crossing a reality while adding a snorkel to a stock CJ5 with its antiquated ingnition system would have rendered a snorkel utterly useless.

snorkel2

Directly behind the hood on the same passenger side, the CJ5 was fitted with a rather unsigthly rectangular cover scabbed to the top of the cowl. While many observers have speculated that this was some sort of air intake or maybe a thermal cooler compartment for toting a cold six-pack and some baloney sandwiches, the truth is much less novel. The Willys M38-A1 was equipped with a 24 volt electrical system comprised of two lead and acid type batteries hooked in series to both meet NATO standards and support the considerable power load of the military’s two-way communications equipment. This required a stable and spacious area for battery mounting and the cowl fit the bill. Since early CJ5’s were given a more mundane 6 or 12 volt electrical system, the battery was moved to an underhood tray and the compartment door was welded closed, although it maintained it’s place on the cowl as an object of  speculation until 1966.

IMG_20171026_092210101

The driver’s side was by no means left out of the mix either. A small notch could be seen in the gap between the hood and fender designed for routing of the electrical wiring for the blackout lights utilized by the military. Despite the civilian version never coming with any such battle-oriented equipment, the accommodations for it were included on the CJ5 in the same fashion as the snorkel cutouts, although not nearly as conspicuous in appearance.

notch3Capture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early CJ5’s were fitted with a fuel tank that was mounted underneath the driver’s seat and had a fill neck that routed through the side of the body tub directly behind the door opening. The tub was indented in this area to accept a fuel filler surround. In the late 1960’s, when government agencies began to express concern over the possible safety risks associated with hurling oneself down the road at 70 mph while perched atop a giant can of highly combustible fluid. The fuel tank was thus relocated to the rear of the vehicle, between the frame rails and away from our flammable fannies. The indentation in the body tub that marked the tanks designed access point remained however, possibly a reminder of where only a buffoon would choose to keep their gas.

CJ5-4

While the CJ5 underwent a number of minor changes in its twenty-nine year run, including a lengthening of the hood and fenders in 1972 to accommodate a lengthier engine assembly, the basic CJ5 platform carried on these attributes for a good many years, despite their total lack of necessity to civilian consumers. I, for one, think it’s pretty cool. The CJ5 is proud of its military roots and it wears that badge proudly. OlllllllO

010217-Barn-Finds-Willys-CJ-5-32106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

As a Matter of Fact, My Mom Did Build my Jeep

“Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women…This was a people’s war, and everyone was in it.” – Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby

It pains me to wonder where society would be today if it weren’t for the females of our species. While I can personally attest to the fact that I would not go hungry without my wife in my life, per say; my standard of living would absolutely suffer brutal consequences. A steady diet of hot wings, pizza, and sub sandwiches would bring swells of short-term happiness that would likely lead to my eventual demise. It goes much farther and deeper than physical nourishment though. Heck, I’m pretty sure the ladies are the only beings capable of sensible thinking in certain situations. Who would have ever thought that wearing an ear piece and monitoring the big playoff game while attending Uncle Ned’s funeral wasn’t a wise choice? Or that it wouldn’t have been how he would have wanted it, rest his soul? Who knew?

Travel back in time with me to the early 1940’s; a time when the decade-long misfortune that was The Great Depression was still clearly visible in our rearview mirror. It’s estimated that a mere 27% of women in the states held jobs outside the home before 1940; a number which had already climbed considerably as families attempted to recover from the financial deficits brought on by the previous year’s woes. It’s also estimated that almost 90% of US women didn’t even possess a driver’s license, much less a car to drive. Seems like an inopportune time for the males of our society to become involved in a worldwide skirmish, doesn’t it?

1b0cce5c41f7862dd36120871586967f

That’s exactly what happened though. While men from their teens to well-past their prime were heavily engaged in our country’s military operations, serious gaps in our nation’s workforce were exposed and their existence was sensed almost immediately. And who better to fill those gaps than our softer and gentler? By 1944, defense jobs had grown 462% and women accounted for 37% of the workforce. But these were not the kinds of jobs typically associated with a female. While there was an abundance of jobs that centered about the skills more common to women, like seamstress and light assembly work; many of the positions in need of filling were actually open because they were vacated by men who were drafted or volunteered for military service. These were jobs as welders, heavy equipment operators, riveters and workers in foundries;  jobs that were incredibly tough even by the standards of the men that held them.  Softer and gentler…Really??

WWIILady2

With such incredible demand for manpower (pardon the misnomer), it’s not surprising to learn that women really stepped up to the plate, rose to the occasionput their nose to the grindstone and a dozen more idioms I can’t think of right now.  In fact, the push to hire females to fill the vital roles normally reserved for men was profound and far-reaching. There was even a mascot for this new grass-roots movement. Her name was Rosie the Riveter– an obvious blue-collar belle who, despite her rugged attire, still exudes a feminine charm. She became the poster child of those who remained stateside during the war and the face of the early feminism movement in America.

ww2

While Rosie’s job as a riveter was more likely associated with the assembly of aircraft or ships for the war, the idea it portrays is not nearly as distinct. The ladies of our country were rolling up their sleeves and doing the jobs that had to be done, regardless of how arduous. Certainly the task of building Jeeps was one of those difficult tasks, more physically taxing than manning a phone switchboard or tending to children, but they rose to the occasion. Developing their own distinct skillsets through, what is still today, the best training method around- by putting their hands on the job that needed done and mastering the ability to accomplish it.

wy-59

The manufacturing and assembly of the amphibious Jeep, the Ford GPA ‘Seep’, was largely reliant on the female workforce to maintain production in 1942 thru mid-1943. A true “gearhead” buddy of mine who lives and breathes Jeeps was recently telling me how he had compared the quality of the welds of the boat-like body between and early and late production GPA’s.  It was clear to him that the skills of the assembly welder were far more advanced from one to the other. I find that to be a real tribute to what seems today to be a forgone dedication to do ones job and the endless internal drive to pursue perfection.

GPA

Once the war ended, GI’s came home and life returned to a new normal. Whether for the newfound feeling of independence or the quest for the mighty dollar, many women continued to work outside the home. And this trend has endured to the present day where woman account for half of the nation’s workforce and are considered largely as equals to the men who they once strived to fill in for.

8e10948r

Whatever it was that made the women of the 1940’s step out of the confines of their comfortable homes, put on coveralls and get hard at work after the task at hand, I wish somebody could have bottled it up and placed it in a time capsule. I think we would be a whole lot better off today if they had.  OlllllllO

8b05079r2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Hittin’ the Skids

1Hang around the off-road scene for any length of time and you’re sure to pick up a few crucial pieces of knowledge. Properly applied, these tidbits of wisdom can mean the difference between pure enjoyment and an undying nightmare that will haunt you long after the trip is over. For starters, never go alone. I don’t mean to imply that you need a passenger, although one that packs a hearty lunch and splits the fuel cost is always nice; more so to have another vehicle go along to help lend support, brawn and brains to your venture. Bad decisions tend to be cast aside when vetted trough a backwoods democratic process, of sorts. Not to mention, a spotter is always good to have when things get squirrely. Secondly, NEVER wear nice shoes that you care anything about unless you have come to terms with the fact that you may never see them again. I know this seems like an insignificant little piece of advice but when you have your favorite pair of Merrells encased in a layer of slime and mud that’s thicker than a milkshake yet has the aroma of an untreated portable toilet, you’ll soon become an advocate for footwear preservation too. The final charge I would give you, and likely the most important, is to always prepare for everything. Being on the trail and having something break is bad. Having it break and being miles and miles away from a replacement part or the tools necessary to repair it is immeasurably worse. Having a breakdown and knowing it could have been prevented, well…

2

Photo Credit: Jeepwithkids.com

One fundamental component of being prepared is having a vehicle that is properly equipped to survive on the trail. For years, off-roaders have fitted their trail rigs with a variety of implements to help accomplish the task of protecting against damage. Often referred to as ‘armor’, bulky steel plates are affixed to body panels and frame rails by any means necessary, in an attempt to keep the rocks from displaying their abusive ways. These plates that line a vehicles underbelly are called ‘Skid Plates’ and they are purpose-designed and built to ward off impacts that would otherwise contact gas tanks, oil pans, steering boxes and other vital components.

So, whoever came up with these skid plates must have been a mechanical marvel, of sorts. To borrow the same theories of relation that exist between wall & cannonball or sword & shield and apply them to a Jeep is nothing short of brilliant! Did you ever wonder at what point Jeep actually decided that incorporating these new-fangled skid plates into the vehicle from the factory would make a great deal of sense, seeing as the likelihood of a Jeep being used off-road during its lifespan is much greater than just a slight possibility. The answer is that the very first ‘Jeep’ or Willys MA, to be exact, came with skid plates. It’s in their DNA as far back as we can trace. Granted, they have become much more advanced in their design and expanded in their usage but, even back in 1941, they realized the importance of a good defense.

3

The very first skid plates were pretty much dedicated only to the transmission region of the Jeep, as it hung precariously lower than the frame rails, rendering it quite vulnerable. Attaching a thick steel plate to the cross member not only protected the drivetrain from glancing blows, but the smooth face provided a slick surface to slide over rocks and obstructions, rather than become hung up on them.

4

While the exact origin of the skid plate, prior to this, would be hard to trace, it’s surprising to many that they have been around as long as they have; finding their way into an extensive array of makes and models today, both as standard equipment and, to a larger scale, as an aftermarket add-on accessory. To quote the age-old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” hits the proverbial nail on the head. Skid plates are precisely that- a dose of prevention only rarely are they weighed in ounces.

5

In fact, popular opinion among hard core off-roaders is that good old-fashioned steel, born of iron and fire, would be the material of choice for building a skid plate. Sure, it’s not the lightest material but it has the hard-headed resiliency to take a severe beating and get right back in line for another. If damaged, it can be removed, hammered out against a rock and welded with very basic tools and then reinstalled. Aluminum, on the other hand, definitely has the benefits of its light weight but is not as easily maintained or welded in the field, making it a wise choice for vehicles where exposure to severe off-road conditions is not a great concern, such as a trophy truck or “mall crawler”.

6

Photo Credit: JK Owners Forum

If you want to equip your Jeep to tackle the most unforgiving of trails, or just make it look like it could, Rugged Ridge has got the parts and accessories to make it happen. Yes, even skid plates! You can check them out on our website at http://www.ruggedridge.com/jeep-accessories/jeep-body-protection/skid-plates.html OIIIIIIIO

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9