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

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

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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July 2017 Monthly Update

Elite Pivotal Headlight Euro Guards

Protect your headlights with Rugged Ridge’s Elite Headlight Euro Guards. Constructed with cast aluminum for a lightweight option to guard your headlights. The euro guards offer a variety of looks for your Jeep with the patent pending design that locks at any point for different angles. Pivotal Headlight Guards feature a textured black powder coat, vibrant red powder coat or classic raw (paintable) aluminum finish. Installs easily in minutes using factory hardware and replaces the factory headlight retaining ring.

Part Number Description Price
11230.14 Elite, Pivotal Headlight Euro Guard, Raw, 07-17 Jeep® Wrangler JK $66.99
11230.17 Elite, Pivotal Headlight Euro Guard, Red, 07-17 Jeep® Wrangler JK $66.99

Elite Antenna Base

Your Antenna is one of the most overlooked features on your Jeep but Rugged Ridge is looking to change that. Upgrade your antenna with the Elite Antenna Base, gives a modern look while offering a sturdy base. Offered in a variety of different finishes such as black, red, and a paintable version.

Part Number Description Price
17212.13 Elite Antenna Base, Black, 07-17 Jeep® Wrangler JK $26.99
17212.14 Elite Antenna Base, Red, 07-17 Jeep® Wrangler JK $26.99
17212.15 Elite Antenna Base, Paintable, 07-17 Jeep® Wrangler JK $26.99

Rugged Ridge releases new Hood Bra for 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler JK

Superior hood protection in a great-looking and stylish accessory

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the release of its new Hood Bra for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK / JKU models.

Rugged Ridge Hood Bra for JK offers attractive styling and exceptional paint protection for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Hood Bra for JK offers attractive styling and exceptional paint protection for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Designed for JK owners who wish to protect their hood from exposure to bugs, rock chips and debris, the Rugged Ridge Hood Bra is constructed of a durable crush grain vinyl, which offers an added layer of protection where it’s needed most.

The Hood Bra’s one-piece design makes it extremely simple to install, securing tightly to the JK hood footman loop in just minutes. The inner lining of the bra is pillow- soft, shielding the paint from scuffs and scratches while simultaneously protecting the vehicle from debris.

Since the Rugged Ridge Hood Bra is designed specifically for the Wrangler JK, it won’t interfere with factory or aftermarket hood catches and can be removed quickly and easily stored when not in use.

The Rugged Ridge Hood Bra is backed by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty and is available online and through select Jeep and off-road parts and accessories retailers nationwide with an MSRP of $44.99.

For more information about the new JK Hood Bra, or any of Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description MSRP
12112.01 Hood Bra, Black, 07-17 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $44.99

Driverless Cars – What a Waste of Drivers

1I can remember clearly, as a 14 year old teenage boy, dreaming of the day I would finally get my driver’s license and my first set of wheels. Even as a teen, I was a firm believer in the value of working hard towards achieving your dreams; so I set out to buy my first car well before the day I was legal to drive it with money I earned on many a hot summer day welded to the push handle of a Murray self-propelled mower. Gaining the ability to drive meant so much more to me than just one human’s ability to get around oneself. It was a tangible symbol of a newfound freedom and, looking back, a strong part of your personal identity. Those memories are still extremely strong and anchored in who I am today; so much that whenever I’m not feeling like all is right with the world, I can climb behind the wheel of the old Jeep; somehow the whir of the tires and cool breezes help everything find its proper place in my perspective. I guess that’s why I don’t understand why kids today don’t long for the same independence as we once did, waiting till they are 17 and even 18 before they are forced, often against their own will, to get their license. Heck, even a large number of adults want to pawn the driving duties off to a box full of microprocessors, without so much as a second thought.

It seems as though the future forecast involves technology doing most of our dirty work for us; a fact that I am, admittedly, not prepared for. Primarily because driving is not work at all to me, but rather something I truly enjoy. I am quite positive that when the future was projected to us years ago on television shows like The Jetsons2, it was NOT like that. Sure, George Jetson and his family were flying around Orbit City in their little space car, but he was always grasping controls. It may have been a steering wheel or a rod or some joystick contraption, but he was always at the controls and driving; in control of his own destiny and destination. If the cartoonists had made him face rearward with a 4-inch handheld screen on the end of his nose, I’m pretty sure viewership would have plummeted. Nobody in the viewing audience would have even pretended to be entertained by the prospect of not being able to drive anymore. We will gladly take Rosie the Robot to see to our household chores but please keep your hands off of our cars. I want that future The Jetsons were able to foresee and not the one we currently have coming to us!

As a means of preparing myself mentally for what the future likely holds, I decided to read what the NHTSA had to say about our less than bright future of driverless cars. Since they are departmentally responsible for keeping our highways as safe as humanly possible, it would seem to me that they would be less-than-thrilled with a highway system jammed up with cars not being operated by humans. This was, however, not the case at all. They seem to be fairly excited about the possibilities that our autonomous future holds in terms of overall safety- a future where a person can potentially be carjacked by their own vehicle because they failed to update their software in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, as government agencies are known to do, they have established a standardized table in which to gauge the autonomy of a vehicle, with SAE Level 0 being where a human driver performs any & all tasks related to driving, up to SAE Level 5 where the automated system performs all driving tasks in all conditions with no interaction from the driver. I’m not ashamed to say that I am extremely uncomfortable with any of these designated levels higher than Level 0. I develop an uneasy feeling even at a Level 1, where the vehicle would incorporate common features like lane-assist and cruise control systems which, in my opinion, largely remove the human element from the driving experience. I was equipped from the factory, although it was quite a few decades ago, with the ability to perform many of the complex processes involved with driving a car and I am fully committed to use my eyes, turn my head and commandeer any of my other senses, if the need were to arise. There’s really no need to develop any gizmos to do the same.

3Many will argue that having a computer present to help a driver determine his surroundings and provide vastly more accurate data will result in better driver decision-making and potentially less accidents. While I do acknowledge that there is surely some credibility to such a claim, I would argue in response that I cherish my safety best when it is in my sole power to preserve it. I am just unable to come to terms with the potential that my final moments on earth are spent being completely blind-sided by a tiny blue spinning donut of death on my autonomous cars user display letting me know I need to hastily adjourn with my ongoing game of Tetris and get back to the driver’s seat for some sudden evasive maneuvers. Obviously, my slight hesitation in terminating a game where I had managed to compile such an impressive score would be at the root of my eventual undoing. I am all but certain the accident report would detail how all the autonomous systems show to be in perfect operating order and the reason for the accident declared to be “Lack of Appropriate Driver Intervention”, an allegation fully supported by the on-board digital voice recorder that would shamelessly broadcast to my loved ones my final words, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”- And then silence.

I guess, in time, I will have to become a little more comfortable with the prospect of cars that drive themselves, with us ‘superior beings’ being reduced to nothing more than mere pieces of cargo; but then again, I kind of doubt it. It just won’t be as easy a transition as we’ve had in the past; like when the TV remote controls went from making that loud clicking noise to shooting an invisible infrared beam across your living room and eventually making no noise at all when you change the channels. We finally figured out that the infrared beam wouldn’t catch the curtains on fire and life returned to something that resembled normal. Those were relatively easy transitions in comparison but still very monumental in terms of how we watch television. In the meantime, I think I will get back to dreaming every night of the day when I can once again jump in my Jeep and hit the road any time the mood strikes me with no assistance from anyone. Working towards that end, is anyone interested in a used GPS? OlllllllO42106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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

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Rugged Ridge expands Elite Line of Exterior Accessories for 2007-2017 Wrangler JK/JKU models

New Light Guards added to deliver full vehicle protection

Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the expansion of its Elite Line of exterior styling accessories with the addition of its Elite Turn Signal Guards, Elite Fog Light Guards and Elite Side Marker Light Guards for 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler JK and JKU models.

Rugged Ridge’s Elite Line of exterior accessories features patented designs intended to provide an attractive and desirable option for JK owners that incorporates Rugged Ridge’s exclusive Elite Line styling, high-quality materials and premium finishes – elements selected to separate the Elite products from others currently found in the JK aftermarket.

Rugged Ridge’s new Elite Turn Signal Guards, Elite Fog Light Guards and Elite Side Marker Light Guards all feature full die-cast aluminum construction, along with a premium black powder coated finish, chosen for its exceptional durability and appearance.

The new Elite Light Guards are designed with the same distinctive styling as the Elite Headlight Guards for a complete lighting protection package that delivers a cohesive appearance.

The Rugged Ridge® Elite Line of exterior accessories for Wrangler JK and JKU models are backed by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty and are available online and through select Jeep and off- road accessories retailers nationwide.

For more information about the Elite Line of products, Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road parts or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614- 6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com

Part Number Description MSRP
11231.26 Elite Side Marker Guard; 07-17 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $33.99
11231.27 Elite Side Marker Guard; 07-17 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $33.99
11231.28 Elite Fog Light Guard; 07-17 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU $33.99

A 75 Year Evolution in Automotive Seating Technology

An awful lot can happen in the better part of a century. While we’ve been told over and over again that Rome wasn’t built in a day, nobody ever gives any details about how long it actually did take to build it. Some rumors are that it has never even been built entirely, not even once, before somebody goes and tears it up and the infuriated Romans must begin again. Rather than focus on the proven fact that you can’t accomplish anything too terribly remarkable in just one day, let’s focus instead on what Jeep has managed to do in the under-appreciated art of equipping Jeeps to provide support to our collective posteriors.

When the first Jeeps rolled off a troop carrier and onto sandy foreign soil in the early 1940’s, passenger seating was nowhere near the top of the totem pole in terms of importance. This fact can be no more obvious than when you sit in an early war-era Jeep. Just getting in is punishing enough before you ever hit the seat. In fact, the outrageous weight restrictions imposed by the military meant that the drivers could very well be supplied with only an over-turned milk crate on which to position themselves. Thankfully, in the interest of overall operator safety, a lightweight seat frame was fashioned out of 1-inch diameter steel tubing, barely 18 inches in width, and bridged from side to side with a sheet of flat steel on which the task of supporting the drivers back and buttocks fell. This was a crude design and not exactly a drastic improvement in comfort over the supposed milk crate, but at least this unruly frame was indeed a seat and could be bolted firmly to the floor. Fitting these primitive seat frames with heavy canvas cushions is about the only thing that separates them from being mistaken for a medieval torture device. I have heard on several occasions that the early MB’s seat cushions could be used as a flotation device, in the event that things go terribly wrong during an unscripted beach landing. Seems like a grand notion until you note that the seat cushions are screwed to the seat frame! Not only do I have to muster the endurance to tread ocean water in frigid temperatures, only to play an impromptu game of high stakes tug-o-war with my canvas life-preserver as it slowly goes down with the ship. Such a prospect does seem to lend heavily to the strong sense of adventure commonly found in Jeep owners.

Photo Credit: Toadmanstankpictures.com

Since that observation may be a little hard to digest, we’ll make only slight mention that the early Willys / Jeep seat frame was mounted directly over the vehicles primary fuel tank, so that any semblance of physical comfort could be accompanied by a repressed feeling of uneasiness that, as the bullets fly, you can rest easy knowing that a giant can of highly-flammable liquid is safe and secure directly underneath you. Your only hope lies in the possibility that you will be blown clear of the actual destruction.

Photo Credit: Hemmings

The first evidence of any sort of civility in the seating found in Jeeps would coincide with the development of the early civilian Jeeps, or ‘CJ’s’ for short, which came along in the late 40’s. Not that they weren’t stricken with very similar unforgiving steel seat frames found in the MB; seats that were purely about fit & function with total disregard to the comfort of the seats occupant. The CJ was given a softer feel by means of a rugged, yet much more comfortable, seat cushion. A seat cushion ample enough in thickness to absorb most of the pounding the off-road suspension was prone to put out. Graduallly the drivers of Jeep CJs were being spared from the agonies of the severely harsh ride they had grown accustomed to. The days of feeling like you had just been paddled with a rowboat oar after an hour behind the wheel were largely behind us (pun intended).

Photo Credit: Hemmings

As the CJ platform continued to develop through the 60’s and 70’s, car seat construction practices had progressed considerably, as well; the last CJ models, the CJ7 and CJ8, marked a rather significant period in terms of passenger comfort. Seats were now being designed with soft yet supportive foam that was suspended by springs rather than merely plastered to a rigid surface. The seats backs were becoming taller so as to provide greater support for the upper back and shoulders. These subtle improvements continued to find their way into production, each having positive influences on the overall experience of driving a Jeep. While still far away from what I would consider refined, Jeep had come a very long way in a relatively short timeframe and the backsides of Americans quietly rejoiced. Not only was the seating surface becoming a place where moderate comfort could be found, but the bucket seats were now being mounted to an elevated pedestal via a seat slider that would allow for some level of fore & aft adjustability in relation to the steering wheel. Not to even mention the fact that the 1970’s had brought on a much welcomed move for the Jeeps fuel tank, ostracizing it entirely from the passenger compartment. It seems kind of silly to wait until we’re no longer being shot at to make such a decision, but still a very generous engineering gesture, nonetheless.

The 87-95 Wrangler YJ and subsequent TJ models further advanced the Jeeps standings in terms of driver comfort. While seats still remained a manual operation in their means of adjustment, the seats received additional bolstering and added support to enhance overall comfort. The true pinnacle of seating luxury in the Jeeps history is obviously the most recently experienced- the 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK and JKU Unlimited. You would be hard-pressed to find a more plush seating apparatus furnished in any other go-anywhere off road vehicle. It’s almost hard to remember the Jeeps humble beginnings when you are wrapped in the opulence of high-back leather bucket seats, equipped with spine-numbing seat warmers and upholstered in some of the finest supple calf hides you have ever felt. These seats even have air bags on the outboard side that deploy in the event of a substantial side impact. And to think we used to have to sit on the gas tank…OIIIIIIIO

Photo Credit: Jeep

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Until We Figure Out How to Make a Heritage…We’d Better Preserve the One We’ve Got

Omix-ADA / Rugged Ridge just finished putting the wraps on their 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo- a simple and unadulterated celebration of Jeeps past, present and future. While the show is new, only in its second year of existence, the event has grown steadily each year with over two hundred Jeeps migrating to our Suwanee, Georgia facilities to take part in the affair.

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One truth that stands out boldly to me every time I attend a Jeep event like this is the true sense of kinship that is shared amongst Jeeps loyal following. It’s the heritage of the Jeep that sets it apart from other cars on the road; and the reason why a gathering of such is different from any other ‘car show’ on the planet. If you drive a Jeep, you have a key part in that heritage and the unique sense of unity that comes with Jeep ownership is your part of the inheritance to cherish.

2As I stood at the main entrance of the Heritage Expo with the sun beating down on me relentlessly, I was rewarded in being able to greet Jeep after Jeep-load of enthusiasts as they arrived for the event. Some were locals and had driven for a relatively short time, while others had travelled for untold hours, from many states away, to participate. No matter the distance, visible smiles seemed to declare that it was clearly more than worth the distance covered. Some of the rigs were immaculate, having been detailed and cleaned to the nth degree. Other rides were splattered with mud reminiscent of some previous off-road jaunt, not necessarily recent, but one that finds a way to live on in the owner’s memory by keeping what traces remain for as long as he/she can- like the suntan that remains after a great beach vacation. You hang on to it as long as you possibly can. Each one of the Jeeps is carefully surveyed by the masses as they arrived and given an unstated measure of appreciation. Each one admired for their own merits, each comparable to the next as well as the ones before; all equal regardless of how they came dressed for the party.

This is not anywhere near my first car show, by any means. For as long as I can remember, I have always been into muscle cars, trucks or generally any mechanical contraption with more than one wheel as long as it serves to transport you at a speed greater than which I can walk…preferably something I can fiddle with. While the throngs of muscle car enthusiasts and the cars they relish are still near and somewhat dear to me, the level of exclusion that occurs inside their ranks always impugned any positives for me. The animosity that exists between the Ford guys and the contrasting Chevrolet faithful always seemed to undermine the hobby itself. Since when is a brightly-colored sticker of cartoon juvenile urinating on another car manufacturer’s logo a tool for building comradery? Can’t we just collectively appreciate a piece of automotive engineering that has been painstakingly restored by its owner to new condition without any regard if it is a Fiero or a Ferrari?

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The Jeep community largely acknowledges the concept that a show truck has virtues just as commendable as an off-road capable trail rig. It’s not that one is superior to the other but rather that each person buys into the spirit of freedom, capability and adventure that the Jeep represents and adapts the Jeep to fit the lifestyle they prefer. We prefer to celebrate the entire bunch of them, In fact, you can walk into a Jeep dealership and buy a completely stock Jeep Wrangler JK and never modify a thing on it- it just doesn’t matter. You ARE instantly and entirely adopted into the Jeep family and you will be waved at whenever you pass another brother or sister. It’s truly revolutionary to experience and a large part of why we seek to preserve this long-standing heritage for future generations to enjoy.

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If you want to find out more about the 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo or see what all the excitement of the Jeep lifestyle is all about- check us out at www.RuggedRidge.com and we hope to see you and your Jeep at next year’s Jeep Heritage Expo in 2018! OlllllllO

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