One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure (Some Assembly Required)

1At the close of World War II, the War Department was stricken with an overwhelming problem – the conundrum of what to do with the untold thousands of military vehicles now that they had outlived their sole purpose. While many of the Willys MB and Ford GPW personnel transport units were merely abandoned in whatever foreign land they happened to be stationed in at the close of the war, many others were loaded onto ships, wheeled onto aircraft carriers and shipped home at great expense; returned stateside to a U.S. populace that had no real need for them and was largely preoccupied with resuming the normality of a post-war lifestyle free of such concerns.

World War II had not been considerate, in any way, to our European allies in France. A long and drawn-out conflict with Nazi Germany had left their nation’s infrastructure in a smoldering shambles and their military in dire need of massive reparation. As part of an unprecedented post-combat surplus sale, France agreed to purchase some 22,000 MB & GPW trucks from the U.S. government. While this deal likely qualified as a Lend/Lease transaction, the condition of the vehicles involved in the sale made it more a cross between a scratch-and-dent sale and an outright scrap liquidation, with only about half of the Jeeps being in usable condition. Jeeps that were damaged to the extent that a new frame was required were given a brand new frame thus removing their original Willys and Ford identifying markings and allowing them to begin life renewed as a Hotchkiss M201.

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The weighty task of converting such mechanical heaps into useable Jeeps began in 1946 and continued steadily for the next decade in a facility on the outskirts of Paris. Any car that was beyond repair was systematically dismantled to harvest any parts for use on other builds, while many of the chassis were upgraded to 12 volt electrical systems. With the extensive build processes being overseen by Hotchkiss, a French automobile and arms manufacturer, they began to develop a fairly thorough knowledge of the vehicles basic systems; leading to Hotchkiss becoming licensed by Willys to manufacture an entirely new Jeep, on a new frame, under the same Hotchkiss M201 badge beginning in the mid-1950’s. While these production models, built under the guise of Willys-Overland France (WOF), were intended for a largely civilian market, they failed to ever find an adequate foothold outside of the military. Nonetheless, they became a thread in the fabric of French post-war culture, affectionately referred to as ‘La Jeep’.

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The new civilian versions of ‘La Jeep’, referred to as the JH-101 from 1954 to 1960 and later as the JH-102 beginning in 1960, were based on the Willys CJ-3B and were subtly different from their Willys MB predecessors. For starters, the electrical systems were upgraded to a 24 volt platform with dual batteries to meet the NATO requirements of the day. Visually, the windshield frame of the production M201 had two wiper arms mounted from the above the windshield and featured a steel loop that straddled the wiper pivots to protect them when the windshield was lowered. The otherwise familiar dash cluster was accentuated by a round speedometer that read in kilometers per hour rather than miles; a feature possibly signifying the very first time in history that anyone was able to say they did 100 in a Jeep. Hotchkiss gradually began to address the Willys shortcomings with changes in their design, some proving to be beneficial while others were arguably steps in the wrong direction. Heavier leaf springs, waterproof ignition systems, updated carburetors and eventually even a diesel fuel engine found their way into the design. While those revisions that proved to be favorable became the new standard for future production, others that were less than advantageous fell by the wayside. Such is the case with the 55 horsepower Indenor diesel engine which, despite being a Peugeot power plant, reportedly had the same acceleration qualities as a garden snail, or ‘escargot’ as the French would refer to them on the menus in their finer restaurants.

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What started out as little more than a collection of old, used-up, hand-me-down Jeeps that were, by many accounts, ready for the landfill ended up serving the nation of France quite well. Many of the later production M102’s were used in military service up until the 1980’s. The decades following World War II were subsequently filled with economic growth and industrial advancements that once again had France positioned to maintain profitability for years to come. And to think, they owed a lot of their success to some old Jeeps. OlllllllO

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Rugged Ridge expands its line of All Terrain Floor Liners

Patented Floor Liners Now Available for More Than 80 Vehicles

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the expansion of its line of All Terrain Floor Liners which now include 2017-Up Ford F-250 pickup trucks. Rugged Ridge Floor Liners compliment and protect the interior of more than 80 different vehicles from Jeep, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

Rugged Ridge All Terrain Floor Liners patented “Deep Tread” technology channels dirt, mud and water away from the driver’s feet. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge All Terrain Floor Liners patented “Deep Tread” technology channels dirt, mud and water away from the driver’s feet.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Unlike most floor liners, which are constructed from an extruded sheet of plastic, Rugged Ridge’s All Terrain Floor Liners are injection-molded for superior performance and durability. The injection-molding process, though more expensive to develop, enables Rugged Ridge to create floor liners with a precise fit and a deeply formed perimeter wall for maximum coverage.

Rugged Ridge All Terrain Floor Liners are engineered to offer complete interior floor protection during everyday use. Each liner features “Deep Tread Technology” with 3/8-inch deep chevrons, nearly three times the depth of other floor liners, to channel debris and moisture. The Floor Liners were specifically developed with the off-roader and outdoorsman in mind.

Vehicle owners can be assured that when Rugged Ridge All Terrain Floor Liners are installed, their investment is protected for the life of the vehicle. All of Rugged Ridge’s All Terrain Floor Liners are covered by a limited lifetime warranty.

For more information on Rugged Ridge’s All Terrain Floor Liners, its complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an approved retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description Price
82902.30 Floor Liners, Front, Pair, Black, 17-Up Ford F-250 $119.99
82952.17 Rear Liner F250 17-Up W/RR Logo $227.99
82989.23 Floor Liner Kit, Black; Ford F-250 17-Up $227.99

Finding the Meaning in Jeeps Seven Slot Grille

1When you come to the realization that we have an unmeasurable amount of information nowadays, right at our fingertips, it’s hard to feel anything short of amazed. The fact that I can drive my Jeep off in some random direction, as if I have a clue where I’m going, until I am hopelessly lost (as I am prone to do); I can pull over to the side of the road and my smartphone will tell me precisely where I am, advise me on how to get back home and tell me where the closest place to get some Kung Pow Chicken might be. It’s enough to baffle those of us old enough to remember having to drive to the library to gather information. With today’s technology so advanced, I’m sure it’s nothing but a simple oversight that, despite the past 50 years, absolutely no technological advancements have been made in the field of school glue; it doesn’t matter how much or how little of it you use, it’s still a sloppy mess the following day. Nor have the fine folks who manufacture it found any way to make it taste good. Go figure…

While doing some Jeep related research on the internet, I found an interesting article that was expounding on the origin of the iconic seven slotted Jeep grille. While I didn’t count the source as possessing any trace of actual credibility, I found it amusing that they claimed, so boldly, that the seven grille slots stood for the seven separate divisions of FCA Inc. – Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT and Fiat. While the symbolism found in the concept that the seven grille bars represent the seven separate pillars on which the company is built seems honorable, I believe the authentic truth is likely more deeply-rooted in history than just a simple marketing scheme; a scheme that reeks of being little more than an afterthought dreamed up in some stuffy boardroom..

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It’s important to note the fact that the very first Jeeps didn’t even use a seven slot grille. The original war prototypes, as well as the actual early-production model Willys MB’s and Ford GPW’s that followed, used heavy grilles with a multitude of welded steel slats that were visually better-suited for grilling burgers over a campfire. It was not until later in 1942 that Ford Motor Company invoked some of their manufacturing expertise into the development of a lightweight stamped-steel grille assembly bearing nine vertical slots; a grille that, with one glimpse, is undoubtedly the inspiration for every Jeep grille to follow. It’s in the DNA. You can’t deny it…

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It was not until the release of the first widely available civilian Jeep, the 1945 Willys CJ-2A, that the grille was reduced to the prominent seven slot design that it retains today and has become so well-known for. So, why did Willys choose to use seven slots? Obviously, Ford had tooled up to produce the 9 slot fascia so that numerical design option was off the table. Respectable sources lend heavily in support of the notion that the Jeep was the first vehicle to have been deployed to serve on the soil of all seven continents during its tour of duty in the course of World War II. Having served in seven different theaters of war around the globe certainly deserves a high level of acclaim, or maybe a vertical bar for each? Just as a soldier might return home from his or her military service proudly displaying the medals that declare his bravery and accomplishments, the Jeep would return stateside, to the home it left behind, in the form of a civilian vehicle; always defiantly proud of the places it had been and the triumphs it had achieved. It had changed; it had adapted to its new lifestyle and yet it was fundamentally the same. An automotive model of resiliency.

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At this point is where I take a slight personal liberty in my beliefs in that the civilian Jeep grille was reduced by two slats to signify their sacrifice given in World War II. Of all the thousands of Jeeps that were produced in the early 40’s to bolster the war effort, a majority of them essentially gave the automotive equivalent of their “lives” for the cause. They were stockpiled and often liquidated, being sold off for scrap for pennies on the dollar and even pushed off piers, flight decks and jetties into the dark, murky depths of the ocean. One particular dumping ground in the South Western Pacific, known as “Million Dollar Point”, boasts virtual mountains of Jeeps, tanks and various other breeds of heavy equipment, all squandered away to a paupers burial, rather than incur the colossal expense of shipping them home. General George S. Patton may have explained such a blatantly frivolous exit strategy best when he said “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men”. I firmly adhere to the thought that the world would be a lot cooler place to be if we had more of these old war era Jeeps around to look at, drive & enjoy. Certainly they don’t deserve to be as rare as they have become.

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Due to some lax business practices in the trademark office at Chrysler, AM general was able to acquire a trademark for the seven slot grille design in 1996 and later applied it to their Hummer H1 and H2 vehicles, much to the chagrin of Daimler-Chrysler. While the Hummer nameplate has a celebrated military past all it’s own, it would be hard to place it in the same ranks as our storied Jeep. Just as wearing a labcoat does not make you a doctor and owning a smartphone doesn’t make you…well…smart; having a 7 slot grille does not, in any way, make you a Jeep. In fact, dressing like a soldier and prancing around when you are, indeed, NOT a soldier likely suggests your participation in the cast of some off-Broadway musical. The real Jeeps have no such reason to pretend. OlllllllO

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Great Moments in Reinvention – Trading Fatigues for Overalls

Photo Credit: hemmings

Photo Credit: hemmings

Everyone is well-aware of how the early Willys/Jeeps played such an integral role during World War II. It wasn’t like the Jeep had been ‘drafted’ for active duty- the Jeep was developed, specifically based on the militaries directives, to suit the needs of the job at hand. Based on that, what I find even more compelling is how Willys-Overland was able to seamlessly bridge the enormous gap that laid directly ahead for Jeep at the end of the Second World War. How could you take a vehicle that was purpose-built so specifically for one thing, reinvent it and sell it for purposes outside of hauling troops, ammunition and supplies? That answer is not as simple as one might think…apparently having proven your worth does not necessarily establish your value.

One vital element to its continued success can be found in the fact that the war-time Jeep was highly- revered as a HERO by the folks back home, as well as by the enlisted men who knew them best. One particular early 40’s Willys-Overland advertisement featured a real-life letter written by a young girl named Sarah, from a little farm in Connecticut, declaring her and her brothers undying admiration for the Jeep and her passionate plea for any pictures the automaker might be willing to provide to her so that she would not have to cut up her parents Life magazines- an act that her father severely frowned upon. The final paragraph of that war-time ad relays a hope-filled few sentences, a sort of premonition in that the lessons learned by Jeep during the war would likely be put to good use by folks back home- a Jeep in civilian attire, or“civvies”, as they called it.

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While being labelled a wartime hero is a pretty grand notion, what Willys truly needed was to prove to the American buyer that the trusty Jeep was a versatile and highly-functional utility vehicle stateside as it had proved to be overseas. While the average family income in 1946 was only a scant $2,600 and veterans that were returning from the war were making, on average, 10% less than those who had NOT served; trying to persuade farmers and small-industry that a $1,241 civilian Jeep was not only a financially sound decision, but, better yet, a wise one seemed to be quite the challenge. The early CJ’s (Civilian Jeeps) were commonly touted for their incomparably reliable drivetrains, capable of performing the work of a tractor while maintaining acceptable on-road abilities too, claiming unmatched nimbleness, finger-tip steering, even highway speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (possibly downhill with a full payload of paving stones?). What could set the civilianized Jeep apart from, say, a Chevy Fleetmaster- a family car whose price is only fifty dollars more BUT can haul the whole family in comfort and a simplistic style? In a single word…Utility.

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   Surely, there were more comfortable and spacious modes of transportation available, but none had near the level of utility of the Jeep. Purely as an off-road conveyance, the Jeep was agile, equipped with great low gear torque to trudge through mud and still haul the wife to town for sundries. The whole concept of utility took flight with the implementation of the PTO (Power Take-Off) which enabled engine power to do more than just turn the four wheels. Suddenly, Jeeps were cast in the same light as a comic book superhero, using their 134 cubic inch engines to power a vast number of implements including welders, compressors, mowers, saws, and sprayers in addition to their ability to tow any number of farming appliances and trailers. Simply put, if you want the ability to get more work done, you’d better ‘Get a Jeep’.

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With its hard-working credentials firmly founded, the early civilian Jeeps began to see widespread usage in farms, factories and commercial operations all across the country. With all this work getting done so efficiently by the new CJ, it was important that people didn’t forget that Jeeps were just as useful for play as they were at work. What better time to pull out all the marketing stops and promote the real-world sensibilities of the CJ by showing one blasting down the road, windshield folded down, with a typical-of-the-time family of five cheerfully contained inside. Just to make sure the point is driven home that this is average folks at leisure, we’ll put the lady of the house behind the wheel of the CJ (a practice that was not a popular custom of the day) and the gentleman’s Sears & Roebuck necktie will be flailing in the wind, leaving no doubt that these Jeepers are enjoying life and, in no way, working. However comical it may seem, in retrospect, in comparison to the usual images we see of 1940’s America, it must have worked as the CJ slowly adopted a new image that was focused more on adventure and the ability to go anywhere than on having to prove itself worthy of our attention.4bc9ecff7f19ea513584d3ad78680617

For whatever reasons, the Willys/Jeep was able to adapt its skillset and prove its ability to provide benefits that reached far beyond its original design. While the bulky radio backpacks of the war seemingly vanished along with the final maturing of war bonds, the Jeep CJ’s reimagined purpose has enabled it to truly stand the test of time. OlllllllOAutomobileMagazine22106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

August 2017 Monthly Update

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Montana Bowless Top

Rugged Ridge Montana Top is the most versatile Jeep® soft top on the market today-combining the stunning fastback styling of a bowless top with the built-in ability to go from a fully-enclosed top to a summer brief in an instant! Best of all, no more unsightly top frame to block your view. The Montana Bowless Top fits snuggly over the factory roll bar and works with your factory door surrounds and tailgate bar, delivering a uniform air-tight fitment with an aerodynamic style all its own. Converting to a stylish summer top is as easy as unzipping the rear window. The Montana Bowless Top comes with noise reducing Whisper Bars for the
quietest bowless top on the market. The top is made to the same strict quality standards as our factory replacement soft tops, with reinforced stitching on heavy “pull” areas, as well as heavy-duty 30 mil thick DOT approved 31% tint window glass, durable vinyl-coated polyester and cotton fabrics, and seams stitched entirely using marine grade thread to resist fading and deterioration from extended exposure to the elements.

Part Number Description Price
Montana Top, Bowless, Black Diamond; 97-06 TJ
$537.99

Rugged Ride introduces new line of Exterior Styling products for 2015-2017 Jeep Renegade models

Aluminum Alloy Wheels and Light Guards Accent the Jeep Renegade’s Unique Styling and Enhance its Image of Capability

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced its new line of exterior accessories for 201-2017 Jeep Renegade models.

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Rugged Ridge Taillight & Headlight Guards for Renegade feature modern styling accenting Jeeps retro-themed details Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

The new Rear Taillight Guards’ feature slats which mimic the X- shaped taillight lens with an open center section to maximize light projection – a shape that is carried over to the Headlight Euro Guards for an overall balanced appearance. Constructed of textured powder-coated steel for outstanding protection, Renegade Euro Guards install easily and quickly with the included double-backed automotive grade adhesive.

Also making their debut are the Rugged Ridge Cast Aluminum Wheels for 2014-2017 Renegade models. The new wheels are lightweight, extremely strong and feature a factory spec hub- centric design for a smooth ride and flawless performance. Available in either a five or eight-spoke styles, Rugged Ridge Cast Aluminum Wheels are engineered to add an aggressive off-road appeal for 11230.20_installed2Renegade owners without affecting the vehicle’s factory road manners, while still maintaining functionality of the original equipment TPMS systems.

The Rugged Ridge Headlight and Taillight Euro Guards, as well as the Cast Aluminum Wheels for Jeep Renegade, are all backed by Rugged Ridge’s industry-leading five-year limited warranty and are available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts and accessories retailers.

For more information about Rugged Ridge Renegade accessories, its complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an approved retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Rugged Ridge’s Cast Aluminum Wheels for 15-17 Jeep Renegade models are available in both 5 and 8-spoke styles and provide a bold, adventurous style with a factory-quality fitment.

Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Part Number Description Price
11226.30 Tail Light Euro Guards, Black; 15-17 Renegade $53.99
11230.20 Headlight Euro Guards, Textured Black, 15-17 Renegade $53.99
15307.01 5 Spoke, Black, Aluminum Wheel, 14-17 Renegade BU $213.99
15307.02 8 Spoke, Black, Aluminum Wheel, 14-17 Renegade BU $213.99

Never Really Done

1How often do you hear or read where another fellow Jeeper makes the statement that they are finally done with their build? I have heard it a countless number of times and it always makes me chuckle a little bit, partly out of jealousy but mostly because I honestly don’t believe that there is any such state of being ‘Done’, at least not when it comes to a Jeep. Describing a Jeep as being ‘Done’ not only suggests that the vehicle is acceptable to the builder’s standards but that the current assembling of all the parts that make it up is absolutely complete with nothing to spare and nothing else needed- only then is it truly finished.

2Jeeps are purely and wholly mechanical and, as with any mechanical device, are inherently imperfect. One might argue that they are, however, perfectly imperfect. I make this point for the sole reason that, when you are speaking in terms of Jeeps, perfection is not an actual destination but rather a journey; one that will never come to an end because you will never actually arrive. You will always long to explore another trail, discover another road to lead you to yet another spectacular, breathtaking sunset and build another friendship with a foundation based on little more than a shared passion for a vehicle that allows you to go anywhere and do anything. It shouldn’t surprise you that the universe that we live in, by some unwritten law, doesn’t allow perfection but is, thankfully, incapable of limiting our pursuit of it and there is plenty of pleasure to be had in such a pursuit.

If you are going to pursue that remote undiscovered trail or expand the limits of the world you get to enjoy with your eyes, the capabilities of your Jeep will be in a constant state of development. Whether it is suspension and driveline upgrades to improve off-road performance or a set of wheels & tires to turn heads and drop jaws during your travels, there always seems to be something else on the list of things that you crave to do to your Jeep. It’s probably pretty safe to say that income tax refund season has spawned more ‘Before & After’ Jeep pictures than any other day on record. Where else can you spend your hard-earned money that can provide such a large return on investment? Sure, Jeeps hold their resale value exceptionally well but what about the returns that pay back dividends in life-experiences and enjoyment that is beyond compare? Rumor has it that tax refund checks that are designated for Jeep upgrades receive priority processing over returns that are used for Caribbean cruises or plastic surgery….just jot a little ‘OIIIIIIIO’ next to your signature and Uncle Sam will do the rest!

3So, what if you have already built your vehicle to conquer any obstacle and equipped it to navigate any trail…what then? Once we have our Jeeps looking exactly how we envisioned in our minds with the most bullet-proof components that we could muster installed between the front and rear bumpers, can’t we finally say that we are done??? Fortunately, the answer would still be less than positive. Choosing to take the road less travelled comes at a cost. Axle shafts break, tires wear out and those gigantic boulders that rise up to halt our progress will often be less-than-kind to our painted sheet metal. We’re Jeepers and we already know that things are never going to be perfect. We will work our way back, little by little until a little becomes a lot. When it comes to Jeeps, it’s all about the ride anyway. OlllllllO

We’re all about the pursuit of perfection at Omix-ADA/ Rugged Ridge and we have the parts and accessories to make that Jeep in the driveway look like the rig in your dreams. Check us out at www.RuggedRidge.com .  2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Making Clever Little Things Out of Odd Bits

When I was growing up and maturing into an adult (you know, the kind that still plays with cars), I found a great deal of enjoyment in a primetime television show that aired in the late 1980’s known as “MacGyver”. It told the ongoing tale of a top agent that worked for a private corporation and, for reasons never really given a reasonable foundation in the shows storyline, he was tasked with travelling the globe righting various injustices that he probably wouldn’t have even known about had he nailed down a regular desk job like the rest of us. Nonetheless, MacGyver, or Angus as he is known by his legions of super fans, was gifted with a superior intellect and a mind that was packed from lobe to lobe with a master’s degree level of mechanical ingenuity. Every episode featured our unlikely hero getting into sticky1 predicaments, only to work his way back out of them with some awesome display of his mastery of science, physics and possibly even dabbling in dark magic – like escaping a prison by freezing the cell door hinge pins with liquid nitrogen that he harvested from an antique camphene lamp and then struck with a fossilized yaks jawbone until they crumbled. Did I mention that MacGyver drove a Jeep? Well, he did. The show was not always believable but it did always manage to leave me with a positive outlook on things; an outlook that is summed up by a simple quote from one of his shows; a quote that is likely the root influence behind his wild success in his oddly imaginary career path – “Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity” to which I will add ‘and maybe some duct tape’. Did I mention that MacGyver drove a Jeep?

With that same vein of inventive thinking, Jeep owners have adapted and overcome problems for the larger part of a century. When things don’t necessarily go their way, they put on the old thinking cap and come up with a viable solution. An action we might refer to as the “MacGyver Principle”.

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In the throes of battle in World War II was an ideal location to find the “MacGyver Principle” hard at work. When a GI was dealt the misfortune of a flat tire on his trusty MB, when only the lack of a bumper jack could possibly make things worse, he would just transform that handful of smile-happy privates into a make-shift hydraulic lift and he would be back on the road and on his merry way in record time! When things get really hairy and ones well-being is in grave jeopardy, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way towards helping you keep your head. Like when Axis troops began the practice of running strands of nearly-invisible high strength steel wire across battlefield roadways, about shoulder high, it was obvious that something needed to be done and in quick fashion. The solution devised by inventive Allied soldiers became known affectionately as the “Anti-Decapitation Device”- a straight section of angular steel bar mounted in an upright position off the front bumper; capable of severing any trap wires that it may come in contact with, which likely reduced the number of single car accidents at the same time. Certainly a pair of fine examples of somebody using their head with all the swagger you’d expect from the “MacGyver Principle”.

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With a wartime adversary as cunning and cruel as to try and separate your head from the rest of your body, you can’t underestimate the ever presence of real danger and do everything within your powers to be ready for it. Enter another clear exhibition of the “MacGyver Principle” applied to our devoted Jeep- an extension to the vehicles exhaust system that permitted the injection of a tear gas agent into the exhaust flow, allowing it to be dispersed into the air along the Jeeps path as it travelled hostile territories. While this may have equated to the 1940’s equivalent of putting itching powder in your buddies sock drawer, anything that provided even a slight advantage over the enemy was highly encouraged. I’m pretty certain MacGyver would have licked his finger and held it skyward, checking for a crosswind before deploying the nasty gas. Or maybe he could have fashioned a crude soft top and frame assembly from some nearby tree limbs and discarded military issue duffel bags to help protect the passengers from the nauseous fumes. After all, he was MacGyver.

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   While the number of times that such ingenuity was exercised during the war could very well be immeasurable, the times it has reached the limits of reasonable prudence are more well-defined. Take, for example, the Hafner Rotabuggy. This was the kind of vehicle that MacGyver would have saved for the season finale in a clever scheme to secure the largest primetime audience imaginable! It seemed to be the mechanical equivalent of an accident well-overdue to happen. Concocted by the British Air Ministry as a possible solution to the ongoing dilemma of dropping Jeeps into a war zone, this contraption was based off a standard issue Willys MB that had undergone some devilish laboratory experiment where the tail end of an otherwise airworthy craft was welded to the rear of a car that was accustomed to falling from the sky, slowed only by a parachute and good old wind resistance. Let’s just say that Angus MacGyver would have had a real chore trying to enlist the help of a sexy co-star for this episode, seeing as the prospect of falling from the sky is not as popular as it once was, especially among those with a will to live. To further reinforce the brand of peril involved with flying such a machine, the Rotabuggy required the usual Jeep driver as well as a second passenger to man the “joystick” controller- a job that reportedly required the pilot to engage in a vigorous battle with the controls as they violently shook and battered about in an attempt to defy control and return to its grounded roots. Supposedly the only effective use of the Rotabuggy in battle would be if they could manage to crash the copter, with exacting precision, onto the unsuspecting heads of enemy troops, which seemed unlikely in and of itself. To add insult to what already seems to be fatal injuries, the Rotabuggy was not even capable of taking off on its own, but rather had to be dragged into flight, kicking and screaming the whole way, behind a larger aircraft…not a crowning achievement and, despite having many of the right ingredients, NOT at all the “MacGyver Principle”. It would however make for better viewing than “Dynasty”.

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   I’m confident there is more than enough evidence to support the premise of a MacGyver remake, one where a modern mechanical marvel takes to the open road, in a well-outfitted Jeep of course, to render support by means of his patented “MacGyver Principle”, to those who are not as well-equipped to handle life’s puzzling plights. It would be a refreshing alternative to the usual reality-based programming that pretends to pass as entertainment today and one I would likely try and watch in my abundance of free time. A strong surge in duct tape sales could be just what our economy needs right now anyway. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

It Ain’t What They Call You but What You Answer To That Matters

What’s in a name? If you reference William Shakespeare, he would suggest that a name is just a name and that a rose that is called something other than a rose would still smell sweet. While I can see where he was coming from or, more literally, from whence he came; I can’t say that I whole-heartedly agree with him. Start calling roses by some other name, like “fungus” or maybe even “discharge”, for example, and the apprehension in which they are sniffed will no doubt begin having a negative impact on the overall smelling experience. So when Jeep designers decided back in 1970 to name one of their most desirable CJ trim packages the “Renegade”, they could not have imagined the road that laid ahead for the Renegade name, or fathomed the 45 years in which it would run its full course.

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The name Renegade is usually intended to relay a spirit of open rebelliousness, while the actual origins of the word express more of a negative tone- one of acting as a traitor, a dissenter or someone who deserts a cause. It seems as though the CJ was intended to walk a fine line between an agile off-road vehicle and a downright treasonous form of transportation- a line it walked with exacting precision. The original CJ Renegades of the early seventies were well-optioned examples of the Jeep lineup that were treated to attention-grabbing exterior striping packages that refused Renegade owners the ability to blend into a crowd. Response from Jeep buyers was largely positive, causing the Renegade to maintain its reign at the top of the CJ pecking order until the last CJ was produced in 1986, leaving behind a strong demand for the Renegade on the collectors market even today. With seventeen years of success in its rearview mirror, it’s pretty easy to see that the Renegade nameplate was, in large, well-accepted despite its marginal surname.

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By the late 1980’s, much of the automotive culture had changed drastically from the carefree extravagance of the previous decades. Vehicle safety and exhaust emissions were playing the larger roles in design and development. The new Wrangler YJ that was released in 1987 as the successor for the legendary Jeep CJ had already taken a serious design departure from the Jeep status quo, most notably with the YJ’s rectangular headlights and modernized interiors. When AMC/Jeep design staff began entertaining the thought of reintroducing the Renegade after a three year hiatus, it’s not clear if the multi-faceted definition of a renegade had been reiterated to the crew. As yearly sales of the YJ grew in excess of the previous CJ models sales numbers, eager designers began to mock up clay models of plastic body cladding in hopes of reincarnating the renowned Renegade for a new generation of Jeepers. What efforts were expended eventually resulted in what many consider a cross between a Jeep Wrangler and a Ferrari Testarossa- certainly more road-friendly fare than the Jeep was previously accustomed to. The plastic-clad YJ Renegade retained its status of the exclusively-appointed Jeep offering for a total of five production years, from 1990 through 1995, which also marked the end of Wrangler YJ production.

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The Renegade nameplate may have suffered some amount of depreciation through the Wrangler YJ era, causing Jeep to bestow a slew of other badges on their special edition Wrangler TJ models offered from 1997 through 2006. Sahara, Sport, X, Rubicon, Anniversary Editions and even an SE model thrown in for good measure were all present to carry the torch for the esteemed off-roader, but not a Renegade in the bunch. Rumor has it that some Jeep dealers across the country tried to dress up new TJ Sport models with Renegade decals in an effort to help bolster sales. I can only imagine that the Renegade Package listed on the add-on invoice was the first thing to be dissected and appropriately disposed of during price negotiations along with the ever-present undercoating and Dealer Prep fees. Had the Renegade truly run its course?

4While 2008 was a year tarnished with the financial frolicking of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the daily distractions of a generally failing economy, the design forces at Chrysler/Jeep were hard at work in an asserted effort to resurrect the Renegade name. Unveiled at 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the new Jeep Renegade was, by all accounts, far from being a rule-keeper. Pairing a hybrid duo of electric motors to drive front and rear differentials independently, the concept Renegade even turned its back on the conventional by incorporating a Bluetec diesel engine to the mix; tasked with both the recharging of the batteries and to extend the driving range to an impressive 400 miles, a relatively sizable feat for the time. This Renegade was designed to be a true open-air driving experience, complete with the guts and gusto of locking differentials and low gearing to please the avid off-road fanatic while making remarkable achievements in the manufacturing practices in the process. The Renegade was to be constructed largely of environmentally responsible materials, including parts that are easily recyclable at the end of the vehicles lifespan and an exterior that is molded in color, eliminating the painting process and its impacts on the environment. Could it be that the Renegade had finally found its own means of redefining the name it was given or was this Renegade destined to desert us once again?

As many concepts do, the promise of a 2008 Renegade returned to the design studio where it was created, to live out the rest of its days in some dark forsaken archive, likely to never be seen again. In what may be its final act of rebellion, the Jeep Renegade returned to our collective realities in 2015 in the form of a sub-compact crossover SUV built on the Fiat Panda platform. While this new installment in the Jeep Renegade chronicles seems to further establish dissent in the hearts and minds of the Jeep faithful, the car in and of itself, is nothing to be ashamed of when looked at in the scope of its segment; contending with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek and Nissan Juke, and doing so in enviable fashion. I will even go so far as to say that the new Renegade is a more than worthy successor to the easily forgotten Jeep Liberty. I can’t even find ample energy to hold a grudge against Jeep using the ‘Renegade’ name. After all, the name Renegade has earned somewhat of an inherent double connotation, not to mention it sounds so much better than the Jeep Iscariot. OlllllllO

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Bring Me Your Poor, Huddled Masses…$1,000 o.b.o.

00464fbc834607a6049faf1a57c96395Standing tall above the murky depths of New York Harbor is a universal symbol of hope and freedom that is recognized the world round, the likes only known by Coca-Cola and a pair of golden arches. We lovingly call her ‘Lady Liberty’- our Statue of Liberty. Etched on a plaque at her feet are the words of an otherwise totally obscure poem ‘New Colossus’ that have been respoken, at least in portion, countless thousands of times since it was unveiled in the late 1800’s. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”; the words even going on to single out the “wretched refuse” as being at the top of the want-list of desirables. While these simple words have grown to hold immeasurable importance in the history of our great country, I must admit that I have knowingly, and possibly even willingly, been given to a gross misinterpretation of them.

 

While the origin of this uplifting sonnet is referring solely to those individuals who might journey to our country in search of freedom, opportunity and the idea that your own pursuit of happiness is only limited by yourself. I have taken those words and twisted them, if only in my mind, to mean something so much different. I’ll call it my “Craigslist Mantra”.  If you’re not familiar with Craigslist, then you are not likely on anything that resembles the internet and you’re reading this blog would be purely coincidental, and if so, Welcome Aboard!

My affliction began about 2 years ago while searching the internet classifieds for a used car for my newly licensed son – a diamond in the rough, if you will (the car that I was in search of, not my son). I knew he would need something reliable, somewhat ‘sporty’ but not likely to exhaust my untold fortunes when it was time to pay for car insurance. We looked at many, drove several and ended up finding a real gem. While my son was just glad to have the whole thing behind him, I rather savored the experience. Soon I was justifying the need for a “backup” car as a means of supporting my addiction, for those times when my lifted Jeep was recovering from some off-road calamity or the weather was less-than-conducive to open air driving.

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I innocently established a few guidelines to help direct and focus my search. First, it needed to be bought for $1000, or less (a criteria that quickly relegates your search into something that resembles a salvage yard scavenger hunt). Secondly, per my better half, it should not be an obvious project going into the purchase; in other words, it needed to be self-contained and not stored in crates and boxes in more than one location. Third, it should have both a roof and doors (this is something that needs no mention with normal people, a group from which I am excluded). Lastly, and not necessarily a requirement, it needed to be a Jeep.

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Enter the tired, huddled masses! My search began as a daily ritualistic process of searching Craigslist in a geographic area centered around my home that progressively expands outward as my own level of desperation increases. Sure, there are some really horrid piles of scrap out there that could be had for a grand, but I was bound and determined to do better. Suddenly the quest for the holy grail of Jeeps was as much a part of my daily routine as 30 ounces of hot high-test coffee and checking emails. The more I looked, the more I slowly and surely surrendered to the fact that such a Jeep may not actually exist and, as I came to terms with this fact, my resolve to find such a Jeep deepened.  There is a well-known proposition in regards to making such a universally negative assumption. To say something doesn’t exist simply because you haven’t seen it is near-sighted. You should never make such a statement until you have literally looked everywhere and I had not so much as looked outside my state. How undedicated to the cause could I be?

When evaluating poor, huddled masses, it’s vital that you don’t only look skin deep, as a wiser older person may have once told you. Sure, that’s where the beauty lies but we’re looking for something with more substance than beauty. Then, suddenly on a hot sunny Sunday afternoon…there it was! I could tell by the way my wife gazed at me while we were test-driving it, that this was the one! She hadn’t looked at me with such obvious distrust since I told her that my engine swap shouldn’t take more than a weekend, two tops. The newfound fruits of my search were not easy on the eyes. There were many layers of dirt, mold and mildew or patina (whichever you prefer), a headliner that had been sacrificed to the car gods in a ritualistic slaying years earlier and a case of death wobble the likes I had only ever read about; one that the seller was leery to disclose to me for fear of nixing the deal. Nine hundred and sixty clams later and I was tooling home at the pace of 45.5 miles an hour, a tick off from the speed at which all manners of hell breaks loose in the decrepit ZJ’s front steering. But underneath that crusty exterior was a highly-optioned luxury SUV that had come on hard times and just needed somebody to believe in it once again; someone to give it one more chance at having purpose. Sure, it had some miles on it and it was far from perfect but aren’t we all?

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Funny thing is, my search for the thousand dollar heap is all over but yet I still search, almost daily, for another. Just like the Statue of Liberty didn’t take a pry bar to the plaque the first time an immigrant found their way to our golden shores. No…there’s always room for one more. Just ask my wife. OlllllllO

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