“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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My Retrospective Look at Toledo Trek 2018

It was many months back, early spring of 2018, that I forged the idea in my rat’s nest-of-a-brain to take my 25-year old Wrangler YJ and set a course northward. To drive to the land long-revered as the birthplace of the Jeep- Toledo, Ohio.

Looking back, I was a bit distressed that my old Jeep might not be up to the chore. She has been known to consume a little oil, which is not in any way uncommon for a Jeep. It’s not been assigned a quart of oil per gallon of gas ratio as of yet, so all is good. I will note also that, after years of dedicated efforts, I can proudly declare that the old 4-liter doesn’t leak oil, in any measurable quantity, at all.

All Photos Courtesy of Evan Coolidge

All Photos Courtesy of Evan Coolidge

So what was I really worried about? My antique Jeep, with its ostracizing rectangular headlights, seemed to make the 1,300 mile jaunt with no real struggles at all. So why would I be, in any way, surprised? She has been hauling my cumbersome structure to & from work faithfully every day for what seems like forever. So I can’t say that I am the least bit surprised. I do find myself cherishing a newfound sense of pride that I hadn’t held before…proud, but not surprised.

What I do find a bit surprising is how much I enjoyed my visit to Toledo. I had heard from more than a couple people how degraded and destitute the city had become. How the city streets were lined with shops that had been boarded-up long ago and either moved on or folded completely. While this perception is not untrue by any means, I can’t help but think that Toledo is a city in need of a second chance.

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To be fair, when you pack legions of Jeeps into one town, I’m probably gonna fall slightly head-over-heels for it. I can’t really help it. Toledo loves the Jeep and she wears her love for it right out on her sleeve for everyone to see. Having the city be completely overrun with Jeeps, if only for a weekend, seemed much like some kind of homecoming. Like all the kids who were born here, had grown up and moved on, all agreed to come back to Grammys house for a reunion. To share a meal, to play on the lawn and show how much they’ve achieved over the years.

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There is no discounting the notion that the Jeep and its loyal followers are more than just a community; they are indeed a family. But the attraction of the city of Toledo, at least for me, goes far beyond its relevance in the history of our beloved Jeep. It’s like the city, with its endless array of aging architecture, symbolizes a way of life that is seemingly nonexistent anymore. The city is romantic. It is historic and it is charming. The fact that time left Toledo behind was no fault of the city at all.

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The Toledo Jeep Fest was originated as a celebration of Jeep’s 75th anniversary, back in 2016, with the plan of it becoming a biennial event, or happening every other year. With such overwhelming success, rumors are adrift that the city of Toledo might try having the show every year. With such a swell of enthusiasm over the Jeep brand and the recurring boost to the local economy that an annual show would provide, I can’t help but dream of the possibility that the town that built Jeep might someday become the town that Jeep rebuilt. I, for one, will anxiously await the opportunity to relive my trek to Toledo once again. After all…my old Jeep can make it, no problem. 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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“Specializing in Genuine Knock-Offs of a Close Reproduction of the Original”

1Jeep has always been a curious brand and not just because they are like no other car. Let me explain: The “Jeep”, as we know it, was introduced in the early 1940’s as a utility vehicle explicitly for military use in World War II. Initially, it was never officially branded as a Jeep. It was rather an MB, or maybe even a GP but only referred to as a “jeep” in a slang manner as a shortened derivative for “General Purpose”, a term hurled about by those enlisted men who used them. The term “jeep” was then casually adopted by the general population, primarily because the “jeep” made them feel as though they were a part of the war; that they shared, in some small way, a little bit of something in common with those soldiers who fearlessly represented them. Most advertising from the war era uses the term Jeep as though it was the actual brand name.

 

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Imagine, if you will, going to your local grocery store to buy a pack of hot dogs. As you stand in front of the refrigerated display admiring the wide variety of weenies & brats, you might well choose to make your selection based on the color of the label, the attractiveness of the product glaring through the clear packing or maybe even base your selection simply on the price of the franks. The choice is yours with little at stake to lose. But what if the pleasing price was accompanied by the words “Hot Dogs” written inside troubling quotations on the packaging? What could this mean?? Could these “hot dogs” be some other food concoction masquerading as a genuine hot dog? Is it possible to fall short of such a low culinary standard?

3When the war was over and the Jeep was transitioning into a new life as a civilian all-purpose vehicle, Willys-Overland continued advertising the ‘Jeep’ but now book-ended the word with single quotations, as though they recognized it was not the original but an undecorated version of it. These single quotations always struck me as a little strange. Sure… the CJ was not really the original military version but it WAS surely a Jeep just the same. I can’t help but think of the ridiculous Dr. Evil character from the Austin Powers movies doing his “air quotes” as he describes the importance of “lasers” in his evil plan to take over the world. Why would Willys not just call their ‘Jeep’ a Jeep and leave the single quotations for something more sarcastic? Is there something more philosophical in play here that would cause them to only reference their product in quotes? What is Willys-Overland insinuating exactly? Never before has a pair of quotation marks resulted in some many question marks…

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As it turns out, Willys-Overland had been trying to get a patent on the name “Jeep” since 1943 and, unfortunately, were meeting quite a bit of resistance. The Federal Trade Commission had even ordered the automaker to stop making claims to any responsibility for the “jeeps” initial design or subsequent production. When Willys launched the first official civilian version of the ‘Jeep’ in 1945, they were sure to take the proper steps to have the name Jeep copyrighted. An official registered trademark followed a few years later in 1950 and yet the single quotation marks remained still, hinting at some level of illegitimacy.

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At any point was the Jeep, or dare I say ‘Jeep’, in danger of having the dreaded quotes stamped into the cowl sheet metal or added to the badging? Was the Jeep merely pretending to be something that it was not?? Was the iconic slotted grille not an adequate substitute for a genuine certificate of authenticity? “How long would it be until we could buy an actual real Jeep?” remained a question that begged an answer for well over two decades.

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Even in 1970, under the ownership of Kaiser, the ‘Jeep’ label remained, now accented with a somewhat confusing tagline “The 2-Car Cars”, intended to convince buyers that the ‘Jeep’, with it’s 4-wheel drive capabilities, was actually two cars in one. No mention was made in these ads if one of the 2-cars was merely pretending to be a Jeep leaving prospective purchasers with a bit of a dilemma.

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The year that followed for ‘Jeep’ in 1971 proved to be one of newfound promise. Ownership of the company was transferred from Kaiser to American Motors Company and instantantly the single quotations were gone. This vehicle was no longer a pretender and was not to be mocked. This was a JEEP and it no longer had to boast of being 2-cars in one. It was THE car, unlike any other and set on a course to revolutionize what people can do with their cars.

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From 1971 forward, under AMC and Chryslers ownership, Jeep grew stronger and more independent as a brand, never resorting to decorating its proud name with uncalled-for quotations ever again. While I think the original intent was to somehow isolate the Jeep from its heritage so as not to detract from it, the fact that the Jeep name was marketed in quotations for some 25 years is a question that begs for some great explanation. Or maybe it was all just part of Dr. Evil’s plan all along. OlllllllO

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August 2017 Monthly Update

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Montana Bowless Top

Rugged Ridge Montana Top is the most versatile Jeep® soft top on the market today-combining the stunning fastback styling of a bowless top with the built-in ability to go from a fully-enclosed top to a summer brief in an instant! Best of all, no more unsightly top frame to block your view. The Montana Bowless Top fits snuggly over the factory roll bar and works with your factory door surrounds and tailgate bar, delivering a uniform air-tight fitment with an aerodynamic style all its own. Converting to a stylish summer top is as easy as unzipping the rear window. The Montana Bowless Top comes with noise reducing Whisper Bars for the
quietest bowless top on the market. The top is made to the same strict quality standards as our factory replacement soft tops, with reinforced stitching on heavy “pull” areas, as well as heavy-duty 30 mil thick DOT approved 31% tint window glass, durable vinyl-coated polyester and cotton fabrics, and seams stitched entirely using marine grade thread to resist fading and deterioration from extended exposure to the elements.

Part Number Description Price
Montana Top, Bowless, Black Diamond; 97-06 TJ
$537.99

July 2017 Monthly Update

Elite Pivotal Headlight Euro Guards

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

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

Elite Antenna Base

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

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

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

Superior hood protection in a great-looking and stylish accessory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Light Guards added to deliver full vehicle protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 2017 Monthly Update

Trek 8 Wheels for Renegade

Start customizing the look of your Renegade with Rugged Ridge’s Trek 8 Wheels. Made with aluminum alloy to be lightweight and a one piece design. The Rugged Ridge Trek 8 Aluminum wheel combines high-end looks of an aftermarket rim with a factory-quality fitment, all while exceeding strenuous SAE J2530 standards for safety.

Part Number Description Price
15307.02 TREK 8 Wheel, Black, Aluminum Wheel, 14-17 Renegade $213.99

Perforated Grille Inserts

Add a aggressive look to your Jeep with our Perforated Grille Inserts. Constructed of durable UV-treated space age plastic that resists fading, cracking, and warping for years of good looks, these Mesh Grille Inserts are molded for a precise custom fit and an easy installation with no drilling or tools required.

Part Number Description Part Number
11306.31 Grille Inserts, Perforated, Black, 07-17 Jeep Wrangler JK $69.99