“Well If That Ain’t the ICE-ing on the Cake”

Maybe you’ve seen them or, like my Dad who is in his eighties, has seen them and didn’t honestly know the difference, but electric cars are everywhere. The first time I saw a Tesla with my father and explained to him some of the technology that is incorporated within its sleek chassis, he looked at me as though I were recruiting him for some fanatical cult. Then again, he looks at me like that quite a lot.

One component that comes along with the sudden growth of electric transportation is the need for recharging stations. If regular cars have filling stations on literally every corner, then why would an electric be any different? I guess I’ve only started noting them within the past 18 months or so, but they may have been around for much longer. You see, they’re not always right out in the open.

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Usually way, way out in the far stretches of the parking lot is where these “superchargers” are constructed. Out in the areas that are usually reserved for us car guys & gals who would rather walk three-quarters of a mile than come out to a wayward Target buggy bashed against our precious trail-rashed paint. So it seems as though some of these same car guys may have taken slight offense to the cordoning of these spaces for the exclusive use of car-charging and decided to partake in silent protest. And, hence, ICE-ing was born.

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What is ICE-ing, you might ask if your inquisitive nature is even partially engaged? Well, ICE is an acronym that stands for ‘Internal Combustion Engine’, which makes the better part of Americans “ICE-ers”, whether they know it or not (I can’t wait to tell my Dad- he’ll be so excited to learn).

It seems as though, at least one segment of these ICE-ers has decided to take a literal stand, or park, if you will, against the presence of these charging stations by placing their massive gas-guzzling behemoths in positions where they completely block access to the charging stations. Dare I say, they are acting like real gas-holes.

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The electric car community has reacted in the most sensitive and politically-correct manner they can devise, by creating a flashy little window flyer, printed in a color known as “Crabby Red”, to place under the wiper of the offending vehicles. The flyer simply states that they are confident that this whole thing must be a horrible mistake and they would appreciate it if you would muster a base level of courtesy when you select your next parking space. They then entice you with a link to a website where you too can learn more about electric cars for yourself. Maybe even begin to develop an understanding of why they exist on this crazy earth. I’m somewhat certain the words are fully wasted on the ICE-ers.

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I can’t help but think that not all of this ICE-ing is intentional. I know the first time I saw a Tesla Supercharging station from a distance, I thought it to be a car vacuum or air compressor, despite its somewhat remote location. Certainly some poor dimwit has pulled up and tried, in great frustration, to refill their under-inflated tire, only to wobble off in failure. I know this as well as I know that Tesla drivers have tried to find the gas door on their fancy electrics…

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So, what if there is a certain level of indoctrination that needs to occur to the general population before the existence of these charging stations becomes common knowledge? I mean, things are getting pretty hostile out there right now. People are getting offended, tempers are becoming heated, things are being said, flyers are being placed on windshields, for god’s sake!

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Apparently somebody has already asked such probing questions of themselves and the solution was obvious. “We’ll paint the ground in front of the supercharging station, advising of the purpose of the parking spot, thus dispelling it’s use for any potential nere-do-wells”. Such painted images should be possess an easily deciphered image so as to be freely interpreted by someone with only a basic level of acuity. Cartainly, if they continue to park here, it is surely an intentional action.

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Oh, Geez! C’mon people!! I don’t know how much clearer it can be stated to you. Unless you have a place to plug in the charger cable, you have absolutely no business using this parking space. Do I make myself clear? Sticking the charging cable into your stake bed pocket doesn’t count either. Nice try…

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That’s it! Until they decide to make all electric vehicles off-road capable, this problem may likely not have an easy solution. Or maybe it’s the mentaility of the electric car driver that needs to change. Be a little more like a Jeep driver. Quit worrying about everyone’s feelings, hop a curb and find a solution. There… now isn’t that better? OlllllllO

 

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“A Jeeper’s 12 Days of Christmas”

We would like to present to Jeep enthusiasts a heartfelt wish for a very Merry Christmas and a safe & prosperous New Year in 2019. Celebrate the season with us by joining in our little sing-a-long that details some of the things that might be on your wish list…

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As I Recall, Nobody Is Perfect

When I was growing up, I was probably viewed as some kind of a gearhead. I bought my first car at the tender age of fourteen. I spent a lot of my spare time tinkling under the hood or grinding away at the body. I always ran in social circles with the kind of guys who turned wrenches and found trouble by barking tires and practicing red-light launches, or “blatant displays of speed”, as the citation would always read.

I remember a tale I was told, back in the day, by a car-buddy of mine who drove a ’70 Nova SS. He said that you should never buy a car that was built on a Monday. His statement cleverly insinuated that the guys who worked the assembly line would show up for work on a Monday, still a bit hung over from the weekend, and, for that reason, would do a less-than-stellar job. I found it somewhat silly to make such a declaration when the process of finding out what exact week a car was built was as complex as advanced trigonometry, much less the exact day.

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My friend’s statement was founded nonetheless. His Nova, as nice as it was, held a sort-of factory defect itself. His father was the original owner of the car, having purchased it in November of ’69, before passing it on to his son; so its history was pretty well known. On a hot June afternoon, while installing some wiring for a stereo amplifier, the passenger side kick panel was removed to reveal an old Stroh’s beer can crushed flat and nestled inside the hidden cavity behind. The fact that the metal can was heavy and had the old pull tab style top made it seem original to the era. It wasn’t like we ever heard an unknown rattle nor did we smell the stale funk that would surely emanate from a discarded beer can on a hot day, had it not been some 17 years later. We always joked that the UAW workers were literally “lit” while assembling his X-bodied pride & joy. And we may have not been wrong.

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This old yarn was brought to mind recently when the new and highly-touted 2018-19 Jeep Wrangler JL was recalled for faulty welds on its track bar mounts. Nothing stirs up public speculation like a crack in the frame of a brand new vehicle. Is it even possible today that the guy behind the welding gun over at Jeep is all dizzied-up on malted hops? Surely today’s assembler would be sipping coconut water or a soy latte?

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After my recent tour of the Toledo Assembly Plant back in August, I can say definitively NO. In fact, a large majority, if not all, of the welding on the chassis is performed by robotic arms that work efficiently and with exacting precision. The actual temperature of the weld is a known quantity, as is every aspect of the welded union, generating a finished weld that simply can’t be duplicated by even the most skilled human with any degree of regularity. The entire process is monitored by sensors and carefully controlled by an advanced computer system that serves as the brain of the operation. And therein lies the only likely suspect for such a manufacturing flaw.

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So while the level of automation that is incorporated into the assembly of a car has all but eliminated the possibility for human error, the fact that humans are tasked with building the robotics and developing the programs that drive their systems leaves a wide window for such glitches to occur. If nothing else, such a recall should remind us that it’s usually best to wait for the second year of production on a new model before making a purchase; or develop a deeper comfort level with the possibility of such issues arising, knowing that solutions will be swift and exhaustive. That being said, I’m a long way from being comfortable with a computer driving my car for me…those things weld like they’re drunk! OlllllllO

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Legends of the Fall

I was fortunate enough to recently spend the better part of a week in the mountains of North Georgia with a group of journalists assembled from around the country. Our primary purpose was to get out and enjoy the backroads and wooded wilderness in a handful of Jeeps. And on this particular occasion the timing couldn’t have been better.

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Folks with an advanced level of knowledge can advise you on the virtues of the yearly procession of fall that they call the autumnal equinox. In the south, the event is usually marked by cooler temperatures and a welcomed reprieve from an endless cycle of grass-cutting and yard watering.

The “first day of fall”, as we call it, signifies what I would have to say is my favorite time of year. Besides the cooler weather, fall is a time for the spectacle of golden hues that adorn the trees just before they shed their foliage entirely for the winter. It’s a time for brewing up some homemade chili and for high school football on a Friday night. Best of all, it’s a time for Jeeps.

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This year, fall’s entrance has been marked by unusually warm temperatures. Certainly warmer than we are normally accustomed to in the south. But that doesn’t change the fact that fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy your Jeep.

While I am a firm believer that Jeeps were meant to be driven without doors, I’m not usually one to set out for a drive without some sort of overhead cover. At the very least, a bikini top or sunshade to keep the scorching rays off of my head is how I’m prone to roll. However, once fall has made its entry, I find that running with no top at all is the ideal remedy for whatever ails you. Besides, you don’t need anything between you and the pageantry of changing leaves; not to mention those clear, starlit nights. But take the time to breathe it in…because in a few short weeks, winter will be here and such deep breaths will be much less enjoyable. And those Jeeps will be weighted down with doors and tops and heaters on full-blast. It is then that you will yearn for this day.

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So get out there and enjoy your Jeep and all the beauty that autumn brings us. There is plenty to see and experience and the legendary Jeep is the perfect place for you to take it all in. OlllllllO

A red Jeep Wrangler drives toward Cottonwood Pass through bright fall aspen trees.

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Space-Age Polymers and Advanced Technology Makes for Instant Fun – Just Add Water!!!

I believe that it is written, somewhere deep within the yellowed pages of an old Jeep owner’s manual, that you have not officially achieved full-fledged Jeep ownership status until you have been baptized into the Jeep church. Don’t get me wrong…despite the name this isn’t a religious ceremony of any sort. It doesn’t require a priest and is not likely to be followed by a reception, complete with little finger sandwiches, fruit punch or a cake. This ‘baptism’ is one of deep water, of pouring rain and probably of mud. Sure, it tends to be a messy ordeal but it always washes off and things dry out long before the memory ever fades.

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I can’t even recall the first time it happened to me, or begin to count the number of times that followed. What I can easily recall is that some of the best times I’ve had in my Jeep have been when things are NOT going the way they should. I could go as far as to say, with reasonable certainty that I’ve been set up. Jeep made plenty of allowances in their design to allow for the unexpected and undesirable to happen. The roof is configured to come off the vehicle entirely, as well as the doors, which both seem pretty suspect to me. There are even plugs in the floor that, when removed, allow for water to drain out of the cab, although the diameter of the drain holes are much too small to keep up with the water flow demand so your ankles will usually remain completely submerged in a heavy downpour. It’s like Jeep knew what kind of trouble Jeep owners were likely to get into and they wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle it and make a full recovery.

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My first ‘baptism’ was innocent enough. It was a sunny spring morning in Georgia and I opted to give my daily driver wheels the day off, choosing to enjoy a sun-soaked trek in to the office in the Jeep. The fresh aroma of budding trees triggered by winters end, accompanied by soft, cool breezes was just the right way in which to start your day and an even better way to end it. Mother nature, however, was hard at work in the background, enacting plans to make sure those blossoming trees had ample water- a plan she would put into full action about the time I began my homeward jaunt. As a steady stream of water trickled from my interior rearview mirror, as though a water faucet had been left on, it occurred to me that a bikini top was probably a well-chosen name for a product that basically guarantees that you are going to get wet. My thoughts then shifted to relative gravity of the situation that unfolded around me as my vehicles entire interior electrical system was being exposed to the one element of nature that it has the least in common with. All these years I spent avoiding the urge to use the hair dryer while lying in the bathtub were all for naught, as I was most certainly about to perish in a freak electrical fire.

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The most redeeming part of the Jeep baptism is probably the impression it makes on those around you that get to witness the event. The look of complete and total pity expressed on the faces of onlookers as they watch you brave the torrential floods must be seen to be believed. A look that could only be outdone by the shock and dismay that their faces would reveal, if they only knew that you were having a blast! I recall on one occasion a fellow in a black luxury sport sedan who pulled up next to me in one such monsoon, partially rolled down his window and made a verbal gesture of his compassion for my plight. “Bad day to own a Jeep! Ain’t it?” he said, to which I replied “No… Thursdays are as good as any day.”

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Of course, there is a flip-side to that coin. Every rose has its thorns; or at least that is the rumor I’ve heard relayed in a song. When it comes to having fun while in a Jeep, water is clearly the magical multiplier. Whether it’s a wide water crossing that runs up to your rocker panels, skirting a majestic waterfall on an isolated backwoods trail or adding equal sums of dirt and water together to make mud- the end result is always the same. Everything you do in a Jeep is “funner” when you add water, but be careful. When you are out wheeling and you add water, things can get really slick really fast! While I don’t mind an occasional struggle for traction, if your adventure has you on any sort of an incline, you will soon be unwillingly finding the shortest route down the mountain; bouncing off anything and everything that is in your path. While this still makes for vast amounts of fun, for those who value pretty painted sheet metal, this can be a real downer. For those Jeepers who are still sending the bank a monthly payment, it’s a downright unacceptable activity to use your Jeep to clear-cut forest land. For that reason, splashing through puddles is the recommended watersport until you have title in hand (with the top off, of course).

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So if you’re out in your topless Jeep and the dark clouds seem to conspire to rain on your parade, don’t despair. It’s just part of your baptism. Sit back, breathe in the air and enjoy it. Most importantly, try not to look too crazy. It’s a Jeep Thing! OlllllllO

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Weighing the Pros & Cons of Insanity

Over the years, I have come to realize that I do my best thinking at night. In that short period of time between lying down and actually falling asleep, I solve some of life’s largest quandaries. To be honest, what I consider to be “my best thinking” is probably substandard to most other people but, at least to me, it’s pure genius-level stuff.

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In stark comparison, I seldom if ever have a lucid thought when I first wake up. At the earliest hint of the first shrill tone from the alarm, my mind is prone to produce such mindless gibberish that I’m left wondering on what occasion I received a head injury. “Where’s the dog!?!!”…”Lefty Loosey” or even “Hello!”, as if answering a phone in my slumber, are some of the first things that come across my mind and therefore cross my lips in mornings earliest seconds. I’ve even been known to grasp desperately at a non-existent handrail, while still comatose, because my mind convinced me I was falling. Trust me…at night time, I am freaking brilliant!

I am currently deeply engaged in the planning of a cross country trek to Toledo, OH for the annual Toledo Jeep Fest in August. And this is not just any trek, but one taken in my 25 year old Jeep. As I laid in bed last night planning what mechanical tasks I needed to address this weekend in preparations for my voyage, it occurred to me that, amongst all the other pertinent planning, I needed to address how my Jeep was going to dress for the trip.

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If you have or have ever had a Jeep, you probably know what I mean. Anytime you take your Jeep out, you have to assess your itinerary and determine the best and most practical set-up for the occasion. If you have a hardtop, most of that decision making is pre-determined for you. Since my YJ is a soft top, I need to ask myself “Do I run the fastback soft top so I have my windows ready in waiting in case the weather goes south or do I roll the dice and don the more-risqué bikini top?” I decide that the fastback top would be the wisest choice and offer the most versatility. See! Nighttime-Me is ridiculously sharp. Isn’t he?

Then my mind progresses to the subject of doors. Do I mount up my half doors to the Jeep with a plan to then store the uppers in the rear cargo area when the weather permits or do I just leave home without any doors at all? I can even store the doors in the hotel room for short jaunts without doors. Or, do I drive half a dozen states away from my home with no means of protecting myself and my vehicles occupants from the elements during what might be one of the hottest Augusts in recent memory? Why, of course I do. Wait…what??

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I think if my wife was accompanying me on this trip, I would have to give the topic of going door-less for 1,300 miles some more intense thought. Bottom line is that I’m taking my teenage son and I love the open-air Jeep lifestyle as much or maybe more than anyone. Face it! I’m never gonna be able to tell my son about walking to school, ten miles each way, uphill in the snow. I need him to remember that time we drove across the country in a Jeep for no reason other than we could. And, worse yet, we wanted to! My exhausted and heavy-eyed self could not pose a single counterpoint as to why I would complete this trip in anything other than true Jeep fashion. Limited top and no doors!

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I hope, beg and pray that you will follow me along my journey beginning on August 8th, 2018 as we make our way to Toledo, the birthplace of Jeep. We’ll be posting pictures from the road and sharing the experience on our Rugged Ridge Facebook page and at YourJeepYourAdventure.com . We hope to see you then! OlllllllO

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Training Tomorrow’s Heroes

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in their life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers

When it comes to turning wrenches on a Jeep, too many people would write it off as dirty, knuckle-busting work. While this conclusion is more than substantiated, it fully dismisses the larger truth that hard work, and in this case mechanical work, can be nothing short of good medicine.

In the foothills of southern Tennessee, there is an organization that really “gets it”. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of diagnosis and as they brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. The Foundation has found a way to give these kids and their families a valuable tool with which to fight those daily battles- best of all, it’s a tool that already lies within them. They only need to learn how to access it and perfect it’s usage. In my opinion, what better subject with which to develop their craft than on a Jeep.

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While the Jeep seemed a perfect blank canvas for Hatch’s Kids to practice their magic on, it’s not every day that a brand new Wrangler JKU lands in your lap either, at least not in the real world. Fortunately, the fine folks at the Mtn. View Auto Group see things a little bit differently. They jumped in and fired-up a brand-spanking new Wrangler, hopped on the freeway and dropped it on their doorstep…literally. It still had the paper floor mats in it. But not for long.

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The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s goal was to transform this bone-stock JK into a modern interpretation of the classic Jeepster Commando, an early-70’s rarity that added popular muscle car styling to the time-honored CJ persona. Rugged Ridge donated pile upon pile of parts to accomplish this massive undertaking while Truck ‘N Trailers USA provided enough shop space, lift and tools to build a space shuttle. And to top it off, they’ll accomplish this task with manpower sourced from the families that they serve on a daily basis. Yes…they’re gonna build this beast with kids.

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It was a brilliant plan whose full perfection would not be realized simply or quickly, but through a series of scheduled “Build Days”. Days that were carefully planned to insure success with a project checklist for all to see. A list detailing what needed to be accomplished that day and providing a visual reminder of the team’s successes as items are checked off. While these were likely some tough build days, they are not nearly as tough as the kids who’ve fearlessly tackled them and found ways to laugh and smile through the entire process.

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And now, with all those pesky words out of the way…bask in the glory of Hatch’s Kids building a super-sweet 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition. It doesn’t get any cooler than this.

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So let’s hear it for the Austin Hatcher Foundation family and the outstanding influence this project has had in the lives of these young people. Be sure to keep any eye out for this beauty making appearances at automotive events over the upcoming year. It is possibly half-as-cool as the kids that built it but still way cooler than most anyhting else on the street.  You can find out more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation and the amazing work they perform in the lives of kids affected by cancer by visiting https://www.hatcherfoundation.org/  OlllllllO

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Trail Access Grant: Stay The Trail update

trail-1The Rugged Ridge Trail Access Program continues to award many grants since first being announced in 2013 at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The Responsible Recreation Foundation received the grant back in 2015 and has made great strides since than. Their flagship program “Stay The Trail” has been spreading the message of responsible motorized recreation for eleven years now.

The grant was used to complete three distinct projects that involved the purchase and installation of kiosks and other materials. These projects provided much needed signage and information at three heavily used OHV areas.

Badger Flats This project took place on the South Park Ranger District in the Pike National Forest to install a variety of kiosks and signs. Volunteers helped install three sets of kiosks at two different locations, along with one smaller sign, and the placement of large rocks to create a barrier around the kiosks.

Mt. Antero This project took place during the annual All-4 Fun event sponsored by Mile Hi Jeep Club to improve 3 large kiosks. These trails were between Salida and Buena Vista on the San Isabel National Forest. This project was a combined effort to bring the 4×4, ATV, and Dirt Bike communities together to work together to improve and trails.

Mud Springs Recreation Area This project took place near Cortez, Colorado at the Mud Springs Recreation Area. Three large kiosk and barricades were installed around the Rock Crawler entrances.

To learn more about Stay The Trail or for further updates click here.

To learn more or apply for The Trail Access Program click here.

Spartacus Stamped Steel Bumpers

Rugged Ridge, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep parts and accessories, today announced the availability of its new Spartacus Stamped Steel Front and Rear Bumpers for 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler (JK).

Designed with the European consumer in mind, the soft contours of the Spartacus Stamped Steel Bumpers produce some of the most advanced styling in the industry. The stamping process also creates a high strength 11-gauge steel bumper that’s lighter than most aftermarket bumpers. Both front and rear bumpers utilize an adaptable design that can be easily changed between wide or narrow configurations, providing Jeep owners with two different appearances to accommodate larger wheels and tires as well as improved approach and departure angles.

Rugged Ridge Spartacus Stamped Steel Bumpers also feature specially designed injection-molded crush-can covers to complement the bumper’s styling while simultaneously helping to retain Jeep’s factory crash rating. Each Rugged Ridge bumper comes powder coated with a durable textured black finish to withstand years of on and off-road use.

“Our newest bumper features an aggressive off-road look that Jeep enthusiasts will love,” said Alain Eboli, Engineering Manager at Omix-ADA. “We took extra steps to strengthen the bumper – like stamping knuckles into its bottom edge – but were still able to retain a lightweight design that works with all popular winch models.”

The Spartacus Bumper is also available with an optional black overrider hoop for a more aggressive look and extra protection. Jeep owners can also mount a winch to this new stamped steel bumper by using a specially designed Winch Plate from Rugged Ridge.

Rugged Ridge Spartacus Stamped Steel Front and Rear Bumpers are backed by Rugged Ridge’s 5-year limited warranty and will be available in fall 2015 with retail pricing starting at $699.99 (front) and $749.99 (rear).

For more information about the Stamped Steel Front Bumper, 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 No. Description Retail Price
11544.01 Spartacus Stamped Front Bumper, Black, ‘07-‘16 Jeep Wrangler $699.99
11544.09 Spartacus Stamped Front Bumper w/Overrider Kit, Black, ‘07-’16 Jeep Wrangler $799.99
11543.13 Spartacus Winch Plate for Stamped Steel Front Bumper $179.99
11544.51 Spartacus Stamped Rear Bumper, Black, ‘07-‘16 Jeep Wrangler $749.99

 

Jeep® Jamboree 2013 Schedule

Jeep® Jamboree 2013 Schedule Announced

The official Jeep Jamboree schedule for 2013 has been released, including several new locations. Registration begins December 1st, make sure to visit their website for more information: www.jeepjamboreeusa.com

Trip Name Date City State
9th Texas Spur March 21-23 Llano Texas
20th Pine Barrens March 21-23 Hammonton New Jersey
1st Parker Arizona – New! April 18-20 Parker Arizona
20th Cajun April 25-27 St. Francisville Louisiana
9th Tennessee Mountains – 3 DAY EVENT! April 24-27 Oak Ridge Tennessee
23rd Arch Canyon April 25-27 San Juan County Utah
6th Top of the Ozarks May 9-11 Seymour Missouri
21st Big Bear May 9-11 Big Bear Lake California
16th Land Between The Lakes May 16-18 Marshall County Kentucky
25th Palo Duro May 30-June 1 Amarillo Texas
22nd Canyon de Chelly May 30-June 1 Chinle Arizona
4th Badlands May 30-June 2 Attica Indiana
21st Drummond Island June 20-22 Drummond Island Michigan
16th Penn’s Woods June 20-22 Bradford Pennsylvania
7th Killington July 18-20 Killington Vermont
18th Northwoods – Mole Lake July 18-20 Crandon Wisconsin
1st Roof of the Rockies – New! August 1-3 Snowmass – Aspen Colorado
2nd Coal Mountain Aug. 1-3 Shimoken Pennsylvania
16th Rubicon Trail Aug. 8-11 The Rubicon Trail California
5th Big Horn Mountains Aug. 29-31 Dayton Wyoming
21st Black Hills Sept. 5-7 Deadwood South Dakota
3rd Laurel Highlands Sept. 12-14 Farmington Pennsylvania
26th Ouray Sept. 12-14 Ouray Colorado
16th Catskill Mountains Sept. 19-21 Monticello New York
24th Maine Mountains Oct. 3-5 Bethel Maine
24th French Lick Oct. 3-5 French Lick Indiana
15th Moab Oct. 17-19 Moab Utah
20th Gateway to the Cumberlands Oct. 24-26 Williamsburg Kentucky
24th Ouachita Oct. 24-26 Hot Springs Arkansas
4th Cullman Alabama Oct. 31-Nov. 2 Cullman Alabama