The Allure of a Jeep Barn Find – Junker or Gem?

1For as long as I can remember, I have taken a great amount of pleasure in driving around the country and looking for deserted automotive treasures, camouflaged by the overgrown landscape on which they reside. You see them, to some extent, everywhere you look, but it seems like the closer you are to the city, the newer the age of the dearly departed becomes. For me, there is not a strong personal attraction in reviving somebody’s old discarded pea-green Geo Prism, whose intrinsic value suddenly plummeted with the failure of a head gasket. It’s when you get away out in the rural areas that you begin to find those truly classic examples; those that served their owners well for the automotive equivalent of a lifetime, before they were literally “put out to pasture”. I spent quite a few years searching these out and taking Black & White photographs to capture my discoveries in their natural habitat. The character that these cars portrayed seemed to be better captured without the detail of color film. My desire was to be able to look back on these photos later; remembering where and when I saw them, and hopefully re-imagine some of the stories those rusted heaps might tell to me, if they could.

I believe that the car lover that hides deep inside a large number of us secretly longs to reclaim those forsaken lost relics; to pull them out from their earthen tombs and breathe new life into them. While the venture of doing such a thing is admirable and ultimately very costly, it’s important to realize that, to borrow a line from the American classic film, Cool Hand Luke, “Some men you just can’t reach”. There are times when the life you hope to recover is just too far gone. It’s at those times that you need to be able to identify this reality and NOT deny it. Are you dealing with a “Barn Find” or are you just buying an expensive chunk of yard art? There may be very little difference between them.

2I tend to favor the term “barn find” because it, by nature of the name, insinuates that the vehicle was stored in a barn or, at very least, under some sort of cover. While this does not guarantee a cars structural integrity and hardly limits the likelihood of the interior now being home for a colony of rats with an appetite for seat cushions and electrical wiring, most barn owners would not likely designate precious space for something that they didn’t care about or hold some plans to repair in the future. If the old Jeep was seriously broke beyond repair, it would probably be repurposed as a flower bed out in the yard. However, once you put a car outside, exposed and unprotected from the elements, you can count on it returning to the ground from whence it came, in a painfully short period of time. While many of the components on a Jeep that are the most prone to rust from exposure are readily available and easily replaceable, one has to consider whether starting out with nothing might be a better option.

3For an old vehicle to truly qualify to be considered a genuine ‘barn find’, the vehicle should only be corrupted by years of dirt, grime and passing of time; something that got put away some time ago for semi-safe keeping and not surrendered to the elements. Too often, one man’s barn find is, more accurately, just a basket case in which to pour large sums of money with little hope of ever recouping even a modest initial investment. The art of finding those that pass more easily as a treasure than trash and acquiring them for as cheap a price as possible is where a bargain finder shows his true mettle. Developing an emotional attachment to the subject is where many people lose sight of the primary objective and end up with a few apple crates full of rusty parts and no substantial premise on which to build. Don’t ask me how I know. In such cases, the buyers motivation should only be save the mechanical artifact from the edge of extinction for nothing more than the sheer satisfaction of it, as that is likely the only certain profit to be had; a profit that is exempt from taxes and only appreciates with time.

I’m reminded of a buddy of mine when I was growing up who, while everyone else was acquiring their first set of wheels, chose to take ownership of a certain Willys M38A1 that his grandfather had pulled from a lake or, more accurately, a South Georgia swamp. We spent several warm summer months scraping barnacles off that old crusty hull of a vehicle with putty knifes until our knuckles bled. The metal, thanks to the coating of mud, was remarkably well-preserved for its age. In spite of that, I remember slowly coming to the realization that this dream that we were chasing was running speedily in an opposite direction than where we were headed. That old Jeep, fortunately, hadn’t cost him a thing but the time and effort it took to try to resurrect it; and maybe a small fee for a scrapper to haul it off. It wasn’t my first project and certainly would not be my last.

So, regardless of where you find them or how much time and effort it takes to restore them, I cannot think of a more admirable or satisfying pursuit than tracking down one of these old vintage vehicles, in whatever barn they may hide, pluck them out from the grasp of decay and reviving what is left of their automotive spirit. You might even share the experience with a member of a younger generation so they can enjoy the same sense of fulfillment that such an undertaking brings. After all, it’s only the seeds you sow that multiply and not what you keep in the barn. OlllllllO

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The Jeep Icon – A 90’s Concept Car That Almost Became Wranglers Adopted Little Brother

I remember, as a kid in the 70’s, looking at pictures of concept cars and feeling a sense of exhilaration at the oddly obvious wedge-shaped styling that seemed to dominate that era. While I’m not a fan of driving a car that so closely resembles a doorstop, I think these styling trends transferred into some really beautiful designs like the DeTomaso Pantera and the Lamborghini Countach, both of which had large images that adorned the walls of my bedroom for the better part of my youth.

Photo Credit: JeepForum.com

Photo Credit: JeepForum.com

 

I then remember, as an adult in the mid-90’s, when an odd little Jeep concept vehicle made its inaugural appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and the strong sense of disdain I felt for what was being presented to the masses as a possible design path for the Wrangler. We had just survived a generation of Jeeps that donned rectangular headlights in the Wrangler YJ and were inversely giddy with enthusiasm over the return of the iconic round headlights in the new Wrangler TJ. How had we come to this? Chrysler is going to boldly present this new concept to us and even be so daring as to name it “Icon”? As if having ‘Melrose Place’ on your TV at every turn was not punishment enough. We had somehow come to this…

The Jeep Icon was, from the outside and at a long distance, not far-removed from the venerable Wrangler and CJ’s of the past, with its federally-mandated 7-slot grill, round headlights and open roof design. It’s what lurked just beyond that first glance that seemed to cause the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Chrysler Senior Designer Robert Lester declared that the inspiration for the ‘Icon’ was drawn from elements found in high-end mountain bikes. These words were not completely wasted on me as I was likely to be shopping for such a mountain bike in the near future, as an alternative to driving the new Icon.  While the designers felt that adorning the vehicles body with gratuitous Jeep logos at every turn would be a reasonable penance for the rest of the Icon, it felt more like an attempt to remind you that this was an actual Jeep, a mission made even more important by the misplaced independent front suspension, industrialized car-like interior and wheels that were clearly repurposed from a Camaro RS. Maybe this could be a baby Grand Cherokee, but definitely NOT a Jeep.

Photo Credit: allpar.com

Photo Credit: allpar.com

 

Despite the tepid response from the press and media, the Icon was still being heralded as the next generation in Jeep styling but with the added corporate spin of its intended purpose not-so-much-being a replacement for the Wrangler, but more a smaller platform to serve as direct competition for the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. As of 1998, there were patents filed for the Icon under the Jeep JJ platform and the likelihood of its making it to actual production seemed imminent.  The Icon would feature four cylinder drivetrain borrowed from Chrysler cars and would find its segway into the American market as a Jeep for beginners and would be utilized, to a greater extent, in Third World markets. Approximately 60 vehicles were built as prototypes and were able to meet all of the quality and durability standards as mandated by Chrysler. The problem with the JJ Icon came when the vehicle was being tested for its “Trail Rated’ badge.

In order to proclaim the Jeep name, a certain amount of off-road prowess must be displayed. The JJ was limited to a fairly small diameter of tire due to its independent front suspension and limited body clearance. Although the Icon easily outperformed its small off-road market counterparts, it was unable to successfully negotiate the famed Rubicon Trail without the assistance of a tow rope which fostered serious concern over whether the JJ was a TRUE Jeep, a blemish that seemed to match the sentiment of the mass majority and the project was subsequently scrubbed. The 60 some-odd prototypes never left the confines of the assembly plant and were likely destroyed. Senior Designer of the Jeep Icon, Robert Laster, moved on to a lengthy stint at Ford Motor Company in 1998, where he aided in both interior and exterior design making significant contributions to the automotive realm with cars like the fabled Ford Figo and the Ford Ka (You can’t make stuff like this up) that are each icons in their own intended market places of China and South America. I can’t help but think that the original objective of the Jeep Icon may have been to lend Jeeps legendary off-road persona to a smaller fuel-efficient mode of transport that would largely appeal to an overseas market with the benefit of its greater capability, while not completely alienating the grass-roots customer base, who were likely left hoping for something more; many of the Jeep faithful would likely have been left with a dazed look, scratching their heads and wondering what just happened. The Icons compromising of its core values in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience was at the core of its undoing, which left me with a renewed faith in humanity and a reassurance that Jeep may have some reluctance to ever try and market a Jeep blessed with the spirit of a mountain bike. I’ll carry my ‘spirit of a mountain bike’ on a bike carrier on the back of my Jeep where it belongs, Thanks!

Photo Credit: CarblogIndia.com

Photo Credit: CarblogIndia.com

 

Despite its demise, it’s easy to see that many of the design characteristics of the Icon concept have undoubtedly made it to production in platforms such as the Jeep Liberty and Compass/Patriot, and I, for one, feel much more excited about the future of Jeep based on the upcoming Wrangler JL and the handful of current concepts we’ve seen recently, like the Shortcut concept that made the rounds last year- Maybe even enough to hang some posters on my wall!  OlllllllO

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Assessing My Need for a Four-Wheel Drive Time Machine

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Is anyone else growing weary of today’s political circus? Not to say that politics today are any flakier than they have been in the past but we are certainly positioned as helpless victims by a media that is relentless in their delivery of the headlines, appropriately skewed to an angle that is in line with networks values. It is enough to make me want to go back in time; back to a time when we didn’t have an entire world of information at our fingertips. Can’t we just go back to the days when Chuck Norris was responsible for keeping the bad guys in-check? It wasn’t that long ago that our nation’s highest-ranking elected leader drove a Jeep CJ with a manual transmission and shared the ride with a trusted golden retriever named ‘Victory’. Those were the days…

We live in a truly incredible world today, one that seems to have advanced so rapidly by developing technology that I often wonder what we may have lost in the transition. We can go online and purchase an automobile, arrange financing without having to shake a banker’s hand and have it delivered without ever leaving the house. We even flock to purchase cars that are called “hybrids”, a term which used to have a less-than-desirable meaning not that long ago. We are literally raising a society of children that drive around carelessly in their cars in an attempt to capture imaginary cartoon characters that appear only on the high-definition displays of their expensive smartphones but have never had the experience of having to locate a desolate payphone late at night, scrape together coins from the gooey ashtray of a meager-excuse-for-a-first-car just so they can call their parents to tell them they are going to miss curfew. Heck, they probably can’t comprehend the need for this thing you call a… “Payphone”? So, what has changed??

Photo Credit: Four Wheeler Network

Photo Credit: Four Wheeler Network

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he had already established himself as a political figure to be reckoned with. He had previously made two runs for the office of President, in ’68 and again in ’76. He was not familiar, in any way, with the word QUIT. I kind of like to think that the word ‘quit’ wasn’t even established in his vocabulary. Despite having failed to as much as make the Republican ticket in 1976, losing out to a soon-to-be ousted incumbent Gerald Ford, he went on to become, what was at that time, the oldest man to ever be elected to the office of President in 1980. At the spry 69 years of age, Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter to become the 40th President of the United States, an achievement not easily attained by those who spend their time frivolously.

Then in 1981, just 69 days into his first term as president, Reagan fell victim to an assassination attempt outside of a Washington, D.C. hotel at the hands of one, John Hinckley Jr. – a guy whose infatuation with a movie star proved to be more than he could deal with. Nonetheless, a ricochet shot to the old noggin from a small caliber handgun was not enough to deter a man such as Reagan. You see, Ronald Wilson Reagan had a humble upbringing and it showed in the manner in which he approached life. While Presidents are often captured on film being chauffeured around in bullet-proof limos, Reagan looked most himself behind the wheel of one of his Jeeps navigating through a pasture on his farm in beautiful Rancho del Cielo, CA.

Photo Credit: Fox News

Photo Credit: Fox News

His favorite Jeep was an old, rickety ’62 CJ6 that his loving wife Nancy had given to him as a Christmas present back in 1963. Reagan was known to put the Jeep through its paces regularly in any number of projects around the farm. This was in no way a show truck but rather a bona fide workhorse that shared in its owner’s belief that there is invaluable greatness in simplicity. There’s no automatic transmission or power windows here, only a PTO-driven winch and rigid place to sit, but only long enough to catch your breath before you get back to work. To know that the former president often referred to his ranch home as “heaven” (or at least in the same zip code, he would joke), it’s clear that Jeeps were considered an essential component to his own perception of happiness; uncomplicated, imperfect, somewhat unsightly but absolutely essential.

Photo Credit: Jp Magazine

Photo Credit: Jp Magazine

Ronald Reagan’s ‘other’ Jeep was much more of a head-turner- a 1983 Jeep CJ8 Scrambler that he called “The Gipper”. Another gift from his wife Nancy, this sky blue Scrambler seemed much more suited for hauling the leader of the free world around than clearing trails on the back forty acres. Ironically, when Reagan hosted Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the ranch in 1992, Reagan wasted no time in dressing Gorbachev in an obligatory cowboy hat and wheeled him around the ranch. At the close of the Cold War when Reagan made his renowned declaration “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”, something tells me that Gorbachev knew deep down that if he didn’t tear it down, Reagan and his trusty CJ probably would have hooked up a winch line and done it themselves. That’s just how a Jeep owner thinks.

While I would like to proclaim that Jeep had a gigantic part in ending the Cold War, I can’t. The truth is more likely found in the simple premise that a genuine Jeep-loving American patriot, who held steadfastly to his ideals and convictions, played a much larger role. Heck, we didn’t even need to break out Chuck Norris to get it done after all!

Photo Credit: RaysJeeps.net

Photo Credit: RaysJeeps.net

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August 2016 Monthly Update

XHD Hub Centric Wheels 17×8.5″


Ready to upgrade your stock wheels but still want to use the tread that’s left of your stock tires? Now you can have both! Unlike our XHD 17×9 wheels, these Euro-spec 17×8.5 wheels allow you to mount either your stock tires or upgraded Off Road tires. So instead of throwing out your slightly used stock tires, think Green and remount them on these new style XHD wheels. It can literally save you thousands of miles!

These wheels are designed to exactly center the wheel over the hub providing the best t possible and the proper clearance for brake rotors, steering components and suspension. Better, no wheel vibration! A stainless steel button-head socket cap screws around the perimeter of the outer wheel face, giving it a great 3-piece look, and allowing you to accessorize with our optional rim protector. Each wheel includes a modular center cap. A durable powder coated nish offers a long lasting look. These Rugged Ridge wheels have been independently tested to meet/exceed the requirements for SAE J2530 and the even more stringent TUV standards. Backspacing is 5.17 inch with a +10mm offset.

 

Part Numbers Description Price
XHD Wheel, Satin Black, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep® Wrangler JK/JKU
$307.99
XHD Wheel, Gunmetal, 17×8.5, 07-16 Jeep® Wrangler JK/JKU
$307.99

D-Shackles Yellow

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Add some flare to your ride with our yellow powder coated D-shackles. This bright yellow will stand out against your bumper. Available in either 7/8 Inch or 3/4 Inch with 13,500 and 9,500 Working Load Limit respectively. Sold in pairs.

Part Number Description Price
11235.14
D-Shackles, 7/8-Inch, Yellow, Pair
$46.99
11235.15
D-Rings, 3/4-Inch, Yellow, Pair
$32.99

Grand Cherokee Exterior Accessories

Looking to dress up and protect your Jeep Grand Cherokee? Rugged Ridge has the accessories to make your Grand Cherokee unique. We are introducing a line of accessories from grille & bumper guards to side steps. Of course, each comes with a 5 year limited warranty.

Part Numbers Description Price
Grille Guard, Black, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
$560.99
Rear Bumper Guard, Black, Double Tube, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $334.99
Running Board, Polished Aluminum Trim, 69-inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
$360.99
Running Board, Black, 69-inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $467.99
Side Step, Round, 3-Inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $320.99
Side Step, Oval, Tubular, 4-inch, Black, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $311.99
Bull Bar, Black, 3-Inch, 11-16 Jeep® Grand Cherokee WK
 $239.99

Jeep Heritage Expo

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Omix-ADA hosted it’s inaugural Jeep Heritage Expo, celebrating 75 years of Jeep.

For the first time ever Omix-ADA opened up its doors to the public. It gave the public a rare look into it’s 230,000 square feet facility where more than 20,000 Omix-ADA brand parts are developed and house. Omix-ADA’s complete vintage and historic Jeep Collection were on display as well featuring more than 30 of the worlds rarest Jeeps to the public.

The event also featured a Jeep Show & Shine that benefited the American Diabetes Association. 100 percent of the vehicle entry fees were donated to the American Diabetes Association.

In addition, there were a number of activities for children and families, including remote control Jeep races, carnival games, giveaways and more. Food was available onsite from the region’s top food trucks.

Check out the gallery below!

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November 2015 Monthly Update

Hurricane Fender Flares for TJ and LJ

The Rugged Ridge Hurricane Flat Fender Flares feature a unique double bolt pocket as a modern spin on classic pocket flare styling. Engineered for both form and function, the fender flare’s unique shape complements the Wrangler’s rugged looks and lines, while mounting high up on the fender for extra clearance for oversized wheels and tires and thereby offering 2.89 –inch more tire coverage and 1-inch more tire clearance over similar OE designs. Each flare features a 2-inch larger wheel opening allowing for larger wheel/tire combos. Each 6.68-inch wide fender flare is constructed from durable black injection molded thermoplastic that can be painted or left unfinished. The Hurricane Flat Fender Flares come complete with a set of durable black corrosion resistant fasteners. Patent pending.

Part numbers: 11640.30

XHD Diesel Snorkel Kit

 

The XHD Modular Snorkel is the first snorkel engineered with the versatility of interchangeable intake heights. By relocating the vulnerable stock air intake through an internal duct system just below the windshield, the XHD Modular Snorkel helps to eliminate dust-clogged air filters and the risk of hydro-locking your engine. Each snorkel is also engineered to function with a host of other Rugged Ridge products, including its Windshield Mount Light Bar, Windshield Auxiliary Light Mounting Brackets, Sherpa Roof Rack, and the new Exo-TopTM System. Installation requires only minor modifications to the internal fender flange and avoids any cutting or drilling to the Jeep’s exterior that other snorkel kits may require. Patent Nos. 8,960,347, D687071, D687,072

Part numbers: 17756.04, 17756.23, 17756.24

Ultimate Grab Handles in Pink

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Ready to rock, but in a brand new color? These pink ultimate grab handles from Rugged Ridge not only add a nice accent to your Jeep’s interior, but will give an instant boost in style that’s sure to stand out! Each grab handle is custom designed for the model of your Jeep to ensure a proper fit. Attaches in seconds with tough hook and loop fasteners.

Part number: 13505.01

Boulder Differential Cover

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The new matte black Rugged Ridge Boulder Aluminum Differential Covers are constructed from A356-T6 cast aluminum for strong impact resistance and feature a precision machined sealing surface, allowing gaskets or RTV sealant to be used for a leak-free seal. Each cover is designed to help protect internal components from damage caused by contact with rocks and other terrain off-road as well as aid in dissipating heat from differentials. These covers also come complete with a magnetic drain plug for protection against costly damage from metal particles that can accumulate in gear oil and include a specially designed dipstick bolt to help Jeep owners avoid under or overfilling their differentials. Patent pending.

Part number: 16595.12, 16595.13

Join the Rugged Ridge Facebook Fan Page!!!

Rugged Ridge Jeep Fan Page So we got a fan page, and we have lots of friends, but we want more… We want you! Sign up today so you can get up-to-date information on Rugged Ridge like product releases, discounts, rebates, contests, Jeep builds, and cool photos. You can hang out with more than 700 other Rugged Ridge Fans, Dealers, and Jeep enthusiasts from all over the world. While you are there you can make new friends, share pictures of your rig, plan a trail ride or even tell us what you want us to design/build next. You could even win a trip to SEMA! Check us out at: http://www.facebook.com/RuggedRidge

Rugged Ridge JK Intake/Exhaust Dyno Tested

jeep wragler jk dyno test

When we say we test our parts we weren’t playing around.  We took one of our Wrangler projects to Batlground Engineering for dyno testing.  Batlground is one of the hottest motorsport shops in the southeast known for their drag racing and drifting. Almost new this 2009 Jeep Wrangler 4dr, with 1600 miles, got our Rugged Ridge ORV 4″ Lift Kit and our Black Rugged Ridge Wheels with machined lip wrapped in 35″ Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar provided by TreaDepot.com before we did the test.  So depending on application and wheel/tire package your numbers could vary.  If you have a newer JK Wrangler with 3.8L you know the motor is a dog and when you add an offroad wheel/tire package it just gets worse.  So we wanted to know exactly how much wheel power we were putting to the ground and what performance gains we could expect from our intake/exhaust.


STOCK – Power = 145.87 Torque = 150.75
INTAKE – Power = 153.89 Torque = 158.37
INTAKE & EXHAUST – Power = 163.45 Torque = 167.69

GAINS – Power = 17.58 Torque = 17.69


Join the Rugged Ridge Facebook Fan Page!!!

Rugged Ridge Jeep Fan Page So we got a fan page, and we have lots of friends, but we want more… We want you!  Sign up today so you can get up-to-date information on Rugged Ridge like product releases, discounts, rebates, contests,  Jeep builds, and cool photos. You can hang out with more than 700 other Rugged Ridge Fans, Dealers, and Jeep enthusiasts from all over the world.  While you are there you can make new friends, share pictures of your rig, plan a trail ride or even tell us what you want us to design/build next. You could even win a trip to SEMA! Check us out at: http://www.facebook.com/RuggedRidge


Rugged Ridge Jeeps and Girls!

So I get a lot of emails and it is hard to read everything that comes through sometimes, but when I get an email that says “Subject:  Jeeps and Girls Photo Shoot”…   I was sold – didn’t need to read it just sign me up!

A local photographer contacted us to use a few our Jeep Wranglers in a photo shoot with some swimsuit models. He is working on an car calendar and wanted to feature some offroad shots using a few of the built Rugged Ridge Jeeps. For some reason it wasn’t very hard to find guys willing to lend him their rigs for the day. These are some test shots we were sent from the initial shoot. Don’t worry there will be more pics to come as this was first round and we are currently scheduling a multistage shoot for this project.



If you like Girls and Cars you need to check out SEMA 2010 Click the Image Below and Register to Win a Free Trip to Las Vegas!!!