Saturday, May 26, 2012

Car of the Week: Jeep CJ/Wrangler

The Jeep is infamous. It has spanned almost a century and is recognized by all (in the US and other countries). The new one still looks like the old one and it keeps its quirkiness. My current car search has dredged up all kinds of cars that I never thought about owning before and the Jeep is one. I just never really thought of it as a reliable, safe, versatile vehicle. This is what is so wonderful about the Jeep; it is versatile. They can be 4, 6 or 8 cylinders, gas or diesel, space for two or four or more with the new four door. Automatic or manual transmission, four wheel drive or two... took me a while to figure out why anyone would get a two wheel drive jeep. The reason is that does not matter is because you can take the top off, and the doors too!

My first ride in a jeep was etched in my brain because of this openness. We were going to Blakely Island in the San Juan's of Washington State. We had friends that had a cabin there where we were going to stay for a week in the summer. There is no bridge to the island so you either need to fly or boat. I think this we went by boat and then we drove this ancient Jeep to the cabin. It was amazing! It handled poorly, bounced all over if there was a bump, there was no room, I think it would pop out of gear regularly and of course no seatbelts! All I remember is the road going by so close I could almost touch it, the wind and the view of the trees that I had never seen. The wind and the view were unparalleled in my car experience up to that point. Why weren't all cars topless?

I have countless Jeep experiences and all of them were great. My uncle Bob had one with a V8 that was so loud. My uncle KL had one that we took out wheeling. A friend Kristy had one in high school and one time she was driving a bunch of us around and it started raining. None of us cared, were were all singing along to Dave Mathews Band and loving the feeling of rain in a car.

So why the jeep? It is an archetype. They can go anywhere, not like a convertible sports car that you have to be careful with. The feeling that you get while driving around in a jeep is just so unique. You feel more in tune with everything. People can see you, you can see them, you can see the trees overhead or the clouds, and you feel it all, wind rain, heat, cold. Everyone needs a ride in a jeep. I am buying one this summer if I can find one for under a $1000!

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