“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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Visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past

As a child there were always a handful of things you could always count on; things that are etched in my memory banks. Like the feeling of sitting anxiously by the radio waiting for the announcement of your schools closing for winter’s first snowfall. The certainty of one’s grandparents, aunts and uncles ceaselessly citing the way things were when they were young; always harder but somehow better than the present. And decidedly best of all, the anticipation and thrill of waiting for Christmas morn- from the careful crafting of your wish list to the hours-long slumber strike as you restlessly awaited the sound of sleigh bells in the night sky or hoofs scuffing across the roof. Christmas always fosters some of the warmest memories from my childhood.

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So I’m not yet a grandparent but I am an uncle at least a dozen times over which more than qualifies me to make a few observations about how things are today. Things that are brought to light at this yuletide time of year.

First of all, it seems like the kids today are being shortchanged. It seems as though our society has become so technologically advanced that kids don’t feel the need to utilize their imaginations anymore. Any kid that gets caught going out into the front yard and pretending like he or she is engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a race of apes in attempt to foil their plan to overthrow the human race would be quickly prescribed a strong sedative and assigned to a special class secluded from the primary population. We did this kinda stuff all the time and it was completely normal.

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Kids nowadays literally have an entire world of possibilities in the palm of their hand. My teenage son can create a hi-res image of my wife and I, in matching Christmas sweaters, in a lovers embrace at the base of the Eiffel Tower, at no more than a moment’s notice. A pretty tall order considering I’ve never been to France and we don’t own any matching outerwear, or “unders” for that matter. With such powers at your fingertips, it gets pretty easy to shelve the old imagination in favor of the app-of-the-day delivered across a worldwide 4G network.

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I, for one, miss the good old days. I long for the days when toys were made of metal, and wood, and things that were not so wisely-sourced because, well, that wasn’t even a thing yet. I remember Tonka trucks that you could stand on, and drop from a second story window, not to mention leaving out in the driveway so Dad could back over it with the Olds. Sure, after a few years it would get scratched up and start to rust but a few shots of Rust-o-leum and she’d be good as new.

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I miss the days of GI Joe dolls. Yes, dolls for boys. But these dolls had accessories that made them anything but a girl’s toy. Machine guns, semi-auto handguns, grenades and even bazookas, which could all be grasped firmly with the startling complexity of Joe’s patented “kung-fu grip”. Toys like this challenged a child’s imagination to develop plots and storylines in which to your prized action figures, unlike today’s handheld gizmos that merely separate and desensitize. It would seemingly take hours to even set-up GI Joe’s base in preparation to play. I can’t say that I ever remember the actual playing taking any time at all in comparison to the eons spent in set-up and breakdown.

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I miss the days of my sister’s playing with Easy-Bake ovens, a toy that was clearly as capable of creating a semi-edible cake as it was causing disfiguring burns accompanied by substantial property damage, if not properly supervised.

And then there was Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…I think every car guy / girl in the world owes a least of portion of their love for cars to an early infatuation with these tiny jewels. To find one of these stuffed in to your stocking on Christmas day was enough to distract you from your LifeSavers Storybook. As I remember, the sight of dozens of these cars lined up in the area under the tree was as commonplace a sight on Christmas as scraps of wrappings and ribbon.

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So my hope for this Christmas is that we will set our technologies aside and make an attempt to get back to some of the simpler things. Put together a model car, play a board game with actual people or even get down on the floor and play with some cars. Heck, maybe even venture outside? Can you imagine what the neighbors will think? 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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SEMA Survival 101: A Show-Goers Guide to Maximum Enjoyment

We are only a handful of days away from the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you’ve never been before or if you have attended and have yet to fully recover, we want to provide a few pointers so that this year’s visit will be as productive and enjoyable as possible.

The SEMA Show is a massive automotive spectacle that spans an incredible amount of real estate. There’s often more to sights to see than the shows operating hours will even allow, so you’ve got to plan your days wisely and prepare accordingly:

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#1: Beam Me Up, Scotty! – Until we develop a means of teleporting across long distances, you’ve got to conserve your energy and resources any way possible. Sure…you could take a taxi cab or an Uber to get around town but that can get to be expensive. Besides, who really enjoys those uncomfortable small-talk sessions with the oddly disturbing cabbie anyway? When it comes to getting from the hotel to the show, and vice versa, there are a number of shuttles provided to help you with your voyage in almost complete solitude and at a minimal cost to you. Did I tell you they’re free? These shuttles run from dozens of local area hotels and will deliver you directly to the festivities during normal show hours. You can review the list of participating venues to see if you can take proper advantage of this service at the SEMA website at https://www.semashow.com/sema-show-strategy-guide .

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Another means of getting around town is the Las Vegas Monorail which, for a nominal fee, can help you get to and from the convention center with minimal inconvenience.   The Monorail also offers a broader range of operating hours so remember it as an option after a late night dinner or other extra-curricular show activities.

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#2: Geez, Are My Dogs Barking! – The only thing worse than being on your feet all day is walking around on the tired legs that they’re attached to. If the past is any kind of predictor, this year’s SEMA Show will be no exception in that you walk and walk, only to find yourself walking some more. That’s why it is absolutely vital that you give proper footwear the utmost of attention.  Comfortable, lightweight shoes and quality socks with some level of cushioning will help you complete a day of walking the halls of SEMA without feeling like a war-torn GI on a three-day march. On a side note…unless you are being paid to make a show car look good, NO Go-Go Boots!

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#3: Have you got the POWER? – Cellphones, tablets and laptops…they all need juice to operate properly so make sure you begin the day with a full charge on all of your devices. . You know what else needs juice? YOU!!! . Make sure you charge up your own internal batteries for the busy SEMA days by making sure to get a good night’s sleep each and every night. Wake up early enough to get a good breakfast too. And I’m not referring to a cold Pop-Tart and an un-chilled can of Red Bull- save that for a mid-morning snack.  After all, SEMA is a marathon. Don’t approach it like a zombie walk!

#4: Well Aren’t You a Tall Drink of Water? – Actually, you aren’t so make sure you bring a bottle with you. Las Vegas happens to be smack-dab in the middle of a desert so you’re gonna want to refill your canteen every chance you get. On top of staying well-hydrated, make sure to keep some lip balm in your pocket or purse, and maybe even some breath mints or hard candy. They’ll help you make sure that the dry climate doesn’t ruin your day.

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#5: Remember ‘Ol Whatshisface? – Many of the SEMA Show attendees are going to be meeting with dozens of people at a furious pace over the span of just a few days. While they might not remember your face, you can make sure they don’t forget your name by packing plenty of business cards. This allows you to make the best use of your time, networking and conversing with automotive professionals like yourself as efficiently as possible.

#6: Try To NOT Play Favorites – Whether you make it a top priority or a seemingly unimportant afterthought, please make sure you come by and see us at the Omix-ADA / Rugged Ridge Booth. We’ll be shaking hands and talking Jeeps at South Hall Booth #30024. We’d love to see you!

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#7: Have FUN!!! – The most important tip for anyone planning to attend SEMA 2018 in Las Vegas is to simply have fun! With so much to see and so many auto enthusiasts gathered in one place, odds are that the week of SEMA will be one that you won’t soon forget. We look forward to seeing you there! OlllllllO

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How Old Is Your Jeep In Dog Years?

It’s pretty common knowledge that a dog ages quicker than people do. What is also commonly perceived is that one year for a dog is the equivalent to seven human years, which is a bit of a misconception. The very first year a canine is alive, it undergoes significant development and actually matures at a rate equivalent to 15 human years. The following second year of life, the dog ages around 12 years and declines a little each year thereafter. I guess the seven years is a bit of a mean average across a dogs suspected lifespan.

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I think that Jeeps, in general, have a somewhat similar aging pattern to that of a dog, but in reverse. The first year on the road for a new Jeep is equivalent to an actual year, taking for granted that the proper maintenance program is upheld and the mileage is kept to a civil rate. The new Jeep maintains its year-for-year rate of aging for the first few years of its life; until the day the Jeep owner’s curiosity for the unknown has them wandering away from the pavement and searching to discover a little more about their vehicles capabilities. On that day, the clock is quickened to double its original pace. Whether in the first year or the fifth, the Jeep begins to age at a rate of two years per year, once it has adopted the tendency for off-road driving habits.

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As the vehicle ages and compiles mileage, the wear and tear on the frame, chassis and mechanical components begins to compound. By the time the vehicle has reached 100,000 miles, or seven calendar years old, its rate of aging is around 3 years per year. That’s six years per if you’re busy climbing rock ledges or straddling crevasses on a regular basis. At this point, you’ll find yourself performing repairs at almost every turn. This aggressive schedule of addressing issues as they appear is the only thing that stabilizes your Jeeps rapid pattern of mechanical decline. Short of a complete overhaul and major rebuild, your Jeep will continue to age at a rate of 3 to 6 years for every New Year that passes, until that day when its fate is finally sealed.

My personal Jeep is a 1993 model which I bought in 2007. The first 14 years of its life, it was kept almost entirely stock and was fitted with highway tires that would turn utterly useless in the mud. It had compiled some 120,000 miles on the clock in its first dozen or so years. The 11 years that I have owned it, the old YJ has been plagued with massive tires, lift kits, heavy bumpers and tons of less-than-ideal driving conditions while enrolled in an extensive program of perpetual upgrade. By my calculations, my Jeep would be roughly 60 years old in dog years, and that’s if I grade on the curve. 60…That’s a pretty startling number when you stop and think about it; bottom line and best case scenario, it’s truly 25 years old on a regular Gregorian calendar making it an antique in the states opinion. Maybe sixty is not that outlandish…

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So for my YJ’s true 25th birthday, I am going to defy the odds, throw the proverbial caution to the wind and embark on a trek to the place it was born, Toledo, Ohio, and attend the Toledo Jeep Fest in August. In careful consideration for its propsed 60 years of age and the 1,400 grueling miles that lie ahead of it, I am undertaking massive amounts of maintenance on the old Wrangler in preparation for hours of driving at highway speeds. This includes touching virtually every suspension component to validate its integrity, replacing aging seals and bearings, renewing fluids and lubricants; maybe even a few cosmetic upgrades will be in order so my baby doesn’t necessarily look like an over-the-hill has-been. I’ve been around cars long enough to know that, even with the best of preparations in place, the likelihood of some level of catastrophe occurring is pretty favorable. With such impending doom, it’s understandable that I simply can’t wait…

To help document my voyage, we’ll be posting pictures from the road featuring sights and scenery from our travels and blogging a bit about the experience as we go. I am very hopeful that none of the coverage will feature dripping fluids, shredded tire carcasses or billowing plumes of smoke or steam. That seems about as likely as taking a trip to the zoo and hoping to not smell any unpleasantries…or you could say, pretty darn unlikely.

Our trip will begin on Wednesday, August 8th and we’ll share all the fun from the Toledo Jeep Fest when we arrive on Friday, August 10th and through the entire weekend. Make sure to follow the adventure on the Rugged Ridge Facebook page as well as at yourjeepyouradventure.com . We hope you can follow along! OlllllllO

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Find a Genie in a Bottle? Read On…

GenieJeepEver since we were little kids, we’ve been tempted with the possibility of stumbling upon a brilliantly-embellished jug that, when rubbed properly, would yield a beautiful, scantily-clad genie who would grant you three wishes. In all fairness, some of the genies are heavyset and male but my preference prevails in this story. While the possibility of such a wish-granting enchantress actually existing in our world is pretty darn low, what kind of person, when given such an opportunity, would then rattle-off a checklist of Jeep parts without ever addressing the bigger issues like world hunger and global peace? I beg of you…please don’t answer that.

I was recently talking with a magazine editor who was compiling a comprehensive ‘Top 10’ list of upgrades for Jeep owners. My responses to his inquiry seemed more and more difficult to assemble the more I thought about the question. Obviously, the chosen ten could vary greatly depending on the particular owner, the current status of the Jeep and would then need to be tailored to what it is they want to do with the Jeep. So what if the chosen Jeep was a bone-stock model and you needed the mod to fit the bill no matter who owned it or what path they have in mind for the Jeep in the end? What single upgrade or mod would you whole-heartedly recommend?

The easy answer for any Jeep owner to do as their first upgrade, in my opinion, would be wheels & tires. With such an incredible number of wheel styles available from the aftermarket, it’s the easiest way to make your Jeep distinctly your very own. A wisely-chosen wheel package can entirely change the look of a Jeep in one simple step. Unfortunately, it’s also the “gateway” mod to a never-ending list of other modifications. If you get larger wheels and tires, the need for a lift kit will make itself known almost immediately. And once lifted and decked out in new massive rubber, the drivability of the rig will leave you wanting for a re-gearing to recapture some of the prior performance or economy. Be warned that the pursuit for perfection never ends but the quest is massive amounts of fun.

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Even if the existing tires on the Jeep are in relatively good condition, replacing them with something more suited to your taste and personal preference is a pretty safe bet. You can even offset the cost of the new wheels and tires by liquidating the old set on Craigslist or through any number of online Jeep forums. There is quite a rabid market for reasonably priced factory wheels and usable tires. Besides, I think it was Ben Franklin who once said “It’s always better to have a few bucks in the billfold than a hi-rise spider hotel in your garage.” On second thought, it could have been Paul Revere.

What could you choose as a second wish that would be an upgrade to satisfy any Jeeper no matter the Jeep? I don’t think you can go wrong with a quality set of floor liners. Often the factory floor liners are made from auto grade carpet and just aren’t up to the conditions that a Jeep is prone to endure. Carpet needs to be protected from snow, mush and muck. Being able to climb into my Jeep with mud-caked boots with no real regard for the well-being of my floorboards is very liberating. Sure, you can get some universal vinyl mats from the corner auto parts store but the fit is going to be less than perfect, not to mention less than durable. Face it, your Jeep is worthy of so much more.

Floor Liners, Front, Black; 76-95 Jeep CJ5/CJ7/CJ8/Wrangler YJ Custom fit black All Terrain Floor Liners front pair, fits 1976-1983 CJ5 1976-1986 Jeep CJ7 and CJ8, and 1987-1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ Rugged Ridge Floor liners provide complete protection for the cabin floor of your vehicle while keeping it looking factory fresh. Each liner is perfectly contoured to your vehicle's floor for precise secure fitment (floor hook attachment where applicable). The raised lip captures all spills, water and debris keeping your interior pristine. The Chevron-shape patented Deep Tread Technology channels liquid away from your shoes keeping them dry. Made of a durable OE-quality Thermoplastic material that can withstand the rigor of daily abuse. Backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty. Patent No. 8,163,369; D627,285; 2,699,641

Assuming that world peace & hunger have already been tabled for the purposes of this article, we are left with a single upgrade for which to beg our genies consideration. My answer to this final quandary will allow for a measured dose of personal inclination. Based on what you most want from your Jeep, choose an upgrade that takes you the farthest towards your goal.

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Maybe the vision of what your Jeep needs to be is clear or maybe not so much. Until you are certain what Jeep you want to build, don’t commit to many mods that determine any given outcome. For example, if you are going to be daily driving the Jeep, you might steer clear of enormous lifts and 40-inch tires. Likewise, if you plan to do some mild trail riding, you might want to invest in some armor to protect your exteriors appearance rather than things to beautify it.

Rugged Ridge Armor Fenders for Wrangler JK are not just another bolt-on accessory. We developed our Armor Fenders with such a brawny & bold styling; they’re capable of transforming your rig into an unmistakable, attention-grabbing shadow if its former self. High body lines and aggressively arched wheel openings provide greater clearance for larger tires and allow for improved wheel travel and articulation off-road. Each fender is constructed of heavy gauge 3 mm thick steel, utilizing fold-and-weld construction, for greater structural integrity you can appreciate. Each section is meticulously finished with a resilient black textured powder coat that protects from real-world road hazards. The rear Armor fenders revolutionary 2-piece design allows for full encasing of the taillight and allows for a fitment that is free of gaps for tight fitment and unsurpassed protection while the front Armor fenders integrated vent screen helps expel engine heat for better overall performance. Installation is simplified with the addition of our Gen 2 Inner Fender Liners so there’s no need to modify your factory parts in the process. Armor fenders work with all factory components as well as Rugged Ridge Spartan Grill, Aluminum Hood Catches and even Rubicon Rock Rails. Includes marker light assemblies, hardware and complete installation instructions. Patent Pending.

Many Jeep owners have no off-road aspirations whatsoever but still want to have an aggressive, capable- appearing trail beast that will likely never leave pavement. Outfitting any Jeep with narrow width off-road bumpers with recovery points and high-clearance fenders can be all it takes to covert a showroom stocker to a trail-ready rocker, especially when complemented by the larger rolling stock we secured in our first wish. Even if the benefit of the upgrade is purely visual, making your Jeep become the one you see in your dreams is what it’s all about. Getting to that point as efficiently and economically as possible is the goal…especially if you don’t have a genie in a bottle.  OlllllllO

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A Meager Attempt at Deciphering the “Jeep Wave”

If you’ve ever driven a Jeep, particularly the breed without a fixed roof, you certainly are all-too-familiar with the cultural phenomenon known as the “Jeep Wave”- a universally accepted social gesture that is as equally deeply-rooted in the Americana of our great country as it is both misunderstood and under-appreciated. How is it that a simple wave, in passing, could somehow be more than that?7113uRUOriL._SY550_

The suspected origin of our revered wave goes way back to a time when our country was embroiled in the throes of World War II, a conflict which engaged our nation’s people unlike any other event ever had. A byproduct of this engagement was symbolized in the way that corporations stepped up to support the war effort in any way they were able. Companies like Ford and Willys-Overland were called upon to produce four-wheel drive reconnaissance vehicles for use by troops and military personnel, both at home and abroad. Out of ingenuity and necessity, the great-grandfather of today’s Jeep Wrangler was born in the form of Ford GPW and Willys MA & MB, or “jeeps” as they were often called by Army personnel.

As G.I.’s scurried back and forth in their Willys MB’s, they would often give a slight, subtle “wave” to other jeeps passed in their travels as a means of signifying that they were, indeed, allies or friendlies; often nothing more than two fingers raised from a hand otherwise preoccupied with clinching firmly the Willy’s massive steering wheel and keeping it centered in the ruts and out of the ditches. In the interest of safety, there was no rank recognized or observed and no salutes given on these short jaunts, so as not to tip off anyone to the presence of a high ranking officer who was out for am unescorted drive.

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As the war came to a close, the army’s surplus of these vehicles was liquidated and many military soldiers were offered a “war-certified” used Willys Jeep to purchase for little more than a song…some for as little as $400. Many of these were quickly snatched up for use on family farms back home or for basic transportation needs. The sight of these military hand-me-downs grew in regularity leading up to the eventual late 40’s release of the Willys adapted for civilian consumption, the CJ. For this reason, many of the people who drove these vehicles in the years immediately following the war associated closely and personally with another passing Jeep, identifying them as being a “brother”; someone who had also served their country and given a sacrifice similar to their own. Someone worthy of respect and even some level of mutual admiration. With no real intentions, the “Jeep Wave” was born.

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How it continues to thrive today, 75 years later, can only be described as “A Jeep Thing”. Something that no one can truly explain but a phenomenon that anyone that has ever driven a Jeep can certainly attest to.

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SO…why would anybody choose to drive a vehicle where a 10-minute drive to the grocery market can be transformed into an aerobic workout? At some point, would this not become annoying? To answer in a word, No.  Why would anyone, especially someone with the presence of an otherwise sound mind, allow themselves to be instinctively programmed to wave at every Jeep they pass, even in the dark, triggered only by the glow of those tell-tale closely-spaced round headlights? Heck, even when they are driving their “other” vehicles that AREN’T Jeeps – we often still wave!

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I think that today’s version of the “Jeep Wave” can be best analyzed by classifying those people who, by their own choice, drive a Jeep today. These are, in large, people who longs for adventure, love the outdoors, isn’t afraid to get a little wet in a downpour and possessing an inherent understanding that the destination is often not nearly as important as the experience enjoyed in getting there. To own a vehicle with such therapeutic qualities is unbeatable. A 30-minute ride home at sunset with the wind blowing through your hair seems to heal the soul. There really is no equal, even when you take into consideration the relentless task of waving at every Jeep that passes you by.

maxresdefaultSo keep waving when you see a fellow Jeep owner out on the road (Yes, even the ZJs), whether you’re paying homage to the past or celebrating the unique camaraderie we share as fellow Jeepers in the present. Wave, smile and know …..It’s a Jeep Thing!! OlllllllO

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Coming to Grips with the Then & Now

How often do you come across somebody who keeps their high school yearbook on the coffee table, out for everyone to see? Unless graduation was in extremely recent history, I’d be willing to bet those annuals are buried deep in the recesses of the attic. Buried under cardboard boxes of dusty keepsakes and discarded Christmas decorations. Even though our high school years often represent some of our fondest memories and treasured friendships, we in large part don’t want to be reminded of what once was; certainly not in the form of pictures.

Celebrities are often refused this brand of self-seclusion. They are often “outed” by their former class mates eager to share a few rays of the spotlight by exposing their old prep school pals for all to see. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad, but always entertaining.

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When it comes to Jeeps, a ”Before & After” comparison might be more in order. The new 2018 Wrangler JL has only been on the streets a few months and the changes between it and it’s JK predecessor can make for some pretty telling photos, on par with any liposuction or rhinoplasty you can muster…for the better, of course.

 

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The changes observed in the Jeep design over the past decades are too numerous to count and yet, while many of the changes have not been subtle, the effect they have had on the overall image of the Jeep are impressively small. Certainly when compared to any other long-standing car nameplate. Take a minute to enjoy Jeeps yearbook photos past & present!

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When you look at images of Jeep’s past side by side with it’s present, so much has changed and yet so much is still the same. We can confidently display (and, hopefully, still drive) our past while we proudly show off our present and wait patiently for what the future holds. Because Jeep shows it’s age in the best ways possible. OlllllllO

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(SORRY….couldn’t help myself)

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(Oooops…my bad)

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Passing On a Passion

I don’t think anyone ever forgets their very first car. That first set of wheels is something that most people are able to look back on fondly. Not that the car was anything to admire, but because of the fact that, despite its usual cosmetic and mechanical fallacies, your first car represented a newfound sense of personal freedom; the ability to go where you want and do the things you want to do. Of course, hidden in the fine print of this new mobility is all of the responsibility that comes along with this privilege. Your first time making a car payment and fretting over the seemingly wasteful expense of insuring the car are things that stick with you and prepare you for what life has in store for you.

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My first car was not a Jeep, nor was the second, the third or fourth. In fact, I am relatively new to the realm of being a Jeep owner. My first Jeep was purchased a mere 11 years ago- a bone stock 1993 Wrangler YJ complete with de-arched leaf springs and a spice-colored factory soft top that was so advanced in age that just the thought of trying to lower or remove the top caused every stitched seam to disintegrate into handfuls of powdery residue. It was cheap and perfectly fit my primary criteria in that, by unwritten law, I am not able to own any car that I don’t have to repair on a more-than-regular basis. It’s in my DNA, I guess.

Underneath my Jeeps crappy exterior lurked a beast of similar unfulfilled potential. A pint-sized 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine capable of generating a staggering 119 hp in ideal conditions had grown weary of its daily duties. In comparison, the AX-5 five-speed transmission proved to be so efficient at its job that it was able to reach top speed of 57 mph while still in fourth gear, making fifth gear utterly useless unless hauling a load of Quik-rete down a really long grade.

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My youngest son Owen was only a four-year old tike when I brought the old Jeep home- a fact that proves wonderful in that a child of such an age only sees the good in things. He was not at all phased by the lack of performance or by the fact that every single mechanical component on the Jeep was reaching the end of its trouble-free lifespan. He simply loved the vehicle for how it made him feel when he rode in it. Honestly, I was the same way. How could such a troublesome vehicle be so darn endearing?

Weekend camping trips and chilly early-morning drives with the top down to soccer games served as appetizers for Owen to develop a taste for what it’s like to own a Jeep. As time has passed, the list of upgrades and revisions the YJ has undergone has grown and grown. Bigger engine, larger tires and a transmission fitted with ample gearing ratios to make the old YJ more of a pleasure to own were each added in their own due time. Many of which Owen witnessed firsthand, or engaged in directly by lending a hand turning a wrench or holding a work light. All the while quietly growing his vested interest and developing a passion for something, even if he was unaware of it. So when he secured his learners permit last year, I was not surprised to learn of his desire to make his first set of wheels a Jeep. But not just A Jeep…but MY Jeep.

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I can’t think of anyone that I would rather assume the driving duties of my beloved YJ than my own son. Sure, I’ll have to farm out several of my internal organs to pay for insurance and I’ll have to go out and find an adequate replacement in which to shuttle myself to and from work. Not to mention a subject to occupy my abundance of free time. I’ll probably even upgrade my standing in the Jeep community a little bit in the process. Maybe a Rubicon and certainly something with coil springs. But nothing too perfect…I don’t think I would have as deep a love for my YJ if it weren’t for willingly accepting all her faults.  OlllllllO

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“Jeep Stacking” and Its Obvious Barnyard Origins

Human beings, by and large, are considered to be superior beings in just about every way. Just the fact that “we” have the wherewithal to put on pants and a shirt before we leave the house every day is clear indication that we have quite a lot going on upstairs, especially compared to other species. Dressing oneself is a totally manual process; one that requires vast mental aptitude compared to, say, a fish that merely changes its exterior coloring to blend in with its present environment. Do they have even the slightest regard for whether or not they are wearing white after Labor Day? I think not.

One symbol of man’s lofty intellectual standing is the practice of “Jeep Stacking”- the art of driving one Jeeps front tires up the perimeter of and ultimately resting atop another Jeeps tire. While this custom is relatively new to the Jeep community, I think the roots from which it stems goes back quite a ways- certainly before the age of smartphones and alcohol-free impaired driving.stackb&w

My first personal knowledge of the practide of stacking Jeeps was at a local car show a good number of years back. A guy pulled up next to me in a highly-modified Cherokee XJ and asked if he could “prop” on me. I honestly didn’t have any idea of what the prospect of him “propping” on me might actually entail but I felt sudden and sure concern that it might involve, at the very least, some sweaty hand-holding. So as not to be ostracized by the Jeep community I gave him permission to invade my personal space and then winced while I waited to what might lie in store for me.

After a few frustrating minutes, I came to full awareness that the idea of propping your Jeep on a neighboring vehicle might seem cool to some, but to those without a front locking differential ends up seeming more like an aggravating exercise in futility; an operation that seems hell-bent on either breaking your tire’s bead, your outer tie rod or both, depending on which poses the greatest inconveneince. MY newfound friend and propping partner became increasingly discouraged by his vehicles inability to perform the desired parking spot acrobatics, at which point he opted for climbing the curb and parking in a more mundane manner.

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It seems to me that this practice of Jeep stacking is really just a public display of Jeeps climbing capabilty, with a subtle insinuation of one Jeeps superiority over another. Any idea where this sort of animalistic behavior comes from?? Well…think no farther than your friendly neighborhood barnyard goat. In case you misunderstood,  I said goat.

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Goats were created with an inherent sense of climbing capability and they’re internally driven to show every other creature in the yard who’s on top, even the other goats. If you have some goats in the field, they’ll do their best to climb on top of whatever they find at hand (or hoof). Sheds, troughs, dirt piles, junker cars, dog houses and certainly tires. They don’t even show the same basic courtesy as a human by asking to “prop” before they mount your mud-terrain.  No, they just climb up there like it’s their tire and as though they were pleasant to look at- both of which are serious misconceptions.

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I intend to insinuate that, with no real proof or even reasonable evidence,that goats are solely to blame for our current automotive affliction known as “Jeep Stacking”- a scapegoat of sorts. But you may ask “How did a simple-minded barnyard beast gain exposure to our automotive culture?”. Let’s just say, somebody may have left the gate open…

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We unknowingly gave said goat unlimited access to our vehicular refuse that we so innocently put out to pasture.  And then, in a less-than-genius attempt to expand our own personal transportation options, we overlooked the goats inability to walk upright and harnessed them with the power to travel the earth as though they were gods. We willingly gave wheels to one of our more cockamamie creatures and expected no foul consequences in return? It seems to me that the horses and donkeys were doing a fine job of pulling our carts up to that point. If only we could have left the goats secluded in their pen, ramming their tufted noggins into tree trunks and perching themselves on tractor tires.

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While the above speculation borders on being a work of complete fiction, the similarities between the driven Jeep and the agility of a goat or ram is uncanny. Both are able to go where they want with minimal effort giving both a sense of near invincibility. That being said, I think it’s high time we drew some distinct lines between our beloved Jeeps and the behaviors of these boorish barnyard billies. OlllllllO

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