Everyone has likely heard the timeless quote “Look… up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman!” It matters not whether you are young or old, rich or poor – EVERYONE loves a superhero. Interestingly, the one defining factor that allowed Superman to avoid being mistaken for just another common flying fowl or small passenger aircraft was always the outfit that he chose to wear. Certainly, no one else would be caught out soaring around the public skies, in plain view, dressed in little more than brightly colored briefs, a pair of Lycra tights and a cape. Clark Kent knew good and well that if you were going to save the world, you needed to dress the part. He needed to stand-out with colors so bold that no mere mortal would dare wear them in the broad light of day. Someone at Jeep must have been taking notes…
Flashback to 1972 – The Jeep CJ5 was selling like hotcakes after successfully surviving the transition from Kaiser to American Motors with its identity still firmly intact. The rest of the automotive world was still dazed from the tail end of the muscle car era: a time when the number of cubic inches your engine displaced was all that really mattered, so automakers proudly emblazoned it on your fender for all to see. But now cars were trending in an inverse direction, with engine size beginning to recede as fuel economy and emissions standards began to grow in importance. AMC Sales and Marketing thinkers saw this as a prime opportunity to give the consumers what they longed for- modest performance, touches of flashy chrome and wrap it all up in a color-coordinated paint and stripe packages that personified 70’s pop culture. And they called it Super Jeep.
The 1973 Jeep Super Jeep was NOT a car for the timid. In fact, little or nothing about this car was subtle or understated. The Super Jeep was available in a total of 6 paint colors, each a little bolder than the prior, and all accented with one of two stripe schemes to really set things off visually; delivering a massive dose of styling flash that can be equaled by nothing less than a sequin-covered body suit. All Jetset Blue Metallic and Champagne White CJ models received blue & red stripes while Butterscotch Gold, Daisy Yellow, Copper Tan Metallic and Fairway Green Metallic hues were all treated to orange & white striping that can only be described as being something snuck out the back-alley door of a retro pop art exhibit. A giant star adorns the side panel directly behind the door opening, reminiscent of the trusty shield wielded by Captain America in a vintage comic book. Suddenly you didn’t need to have 400 horses under the hood to be known as the baddest guy on the block.
Accentuating the daring paint jobs were a handful of appearance goodies that originated from well-outside the normal CJ fare like a curved chrome front bumper, two-tone vinyl seats in paint-matching tones and L78-15 whitewall tires mounted on white painted steel wheels. Much speculation exists that one of the motivating factors behind the “Super Jeep” was that the supply of aluminum alloy wheels used on the ever-popular Renegade had become scarce, causing Jeep to devise a plan to make people clamor for the simplicity of an over-abundant stock steel wheel. Sometimes giving the people what they want involves, to some extent, indoctrinating those people with what you think they want. After all, who ever said saving the world couldn’t be done in sensible shoes?
Whatever the reasoning behind such a limited production model as the ’73 Super Jeep, it seemingly disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. It’s believed that only a few hundred were ever produced although no credible documentation is known to exist to support that claim. What is known quite certainly is that very few of these gems still exist and if you ever get an opportunity to see one firsthand, you really have to jump at the opportunity.
One opportunity to do just that would be found in the Omix-ADA Jeep Collection, which proudly possesses a fully-restored Super Jeep that truly personifies an automotive super hero. You can check it out at http://www.jeepcollection.com/ or see it in person at the 2nd Annual Jeep Heritage Expo on June 3, 2017. Further details on the show can be found at http://www.ruggedridge.com/event OlllllllO