Keep WavingI recently read a reader’s letter in Mailbag (May ’18) where Derek Povah mentioned he had given up his TJ due to the physical limitations he now faces and I felt I needed to contribute one more opinion.
I'm still driving my ’73 CJ-5 and hope to for many more years to come. Short of going back in time to an army Jeep or something, I think it’s pretty much as purist as it gets. It still sports the aluminum plating and white spoke wagon wheels put on back in 1989 by me, when we still painted the suspension wild contrasting colors. It's all Jeep, and yes I wave to all Jeeps that have fenders. I also wave to Cherokee owners, Liberty owners, Land Cruiser owners, Rover owners, and trucks of all breeds that look like they are someone’s personal 4x4. I kind of expect a wave back from my fendered friends, but don't always get one, which I don't get too offended over. Point is, not everyone who enjoys or reminisces of their days off-road can manage a built-up Jeep. They really can be unruly little beasts and aren't for everyone forever. That doesn't mean you don't belong. In fact, you've likely lived out and forgotten more about the Jeep life than most of the opinionated keyboard quarterbacks will ever know.
That said, keep waving, Derek, it keeps people guessing what they’re missing!
True Jeep TestPeople’s confusion about what is a “jeep” of course stems from the word "jeep" being hijacked, put under copyright, and branded back in the day. Many vehicles not made by or branded Jeep (uppercase J) are of course still jeeps (lowercase j). And many vehicles made by Jeep are not jeeps. The word “jeep” predates the brand and simply refers to a class of vehicle distinct from cars, vans, motorcycles, and trucks. Consider pulling up to your local gas pump in a M151 Mutt, Mighty Mite, Daihatsu Taft, Suzuki LJ80, or an FJ40. A local sees your ride, smiles, and instinctively blurts out, “Hey I like your jeep!” You see, it doesn't matter who made the vehicle, they know that using words like “car,” “van,” or “truck” would be too imprecise. They are correctly using the word jeep to refer to a class of vehicle, not a brand.
So not only is the Roxor a jeep, but it is clearly the jeepiest production vehicle currently being sold in America, in my opinion. So what makes a vehicle a jeep? As I see it a hypothetical purebred jeep:
1.) Is a small, simple, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive vehicle
2.) Has primitive straight steel bumpers; never molded, plastic, or decorative. The front bumper protrudes away from the grill enough that mounting winches, snow plows, or farm implements is straightforward using metal scraps from the barn and a welder.
3.) Looks more natural with its top and doors off
4.) Makes you smile when you see it
5.) Has a utilitarian flat steel dash with no plastic, padding, or carpet anywhere inside
6.) Has simple non-specialty round or square headlights/taillights that can be easily sourced in rural areas
7.) Has a body made of mostly flat panels and has front fenders that are distinct from the hood and grille
8.) Not only has a windshield that easily folds down flat against the hood, but it should not look awkward or unnatural when it’s folded down
9.) Looks natural without a rollbar
10.) Has a narrow, flat, and vertical grille panel that houses the headlights
Admittedly, few vehicles ever produced have checked all these boxes. The more boxes a vehicle checks off, the more likely it is to be referred to as a “jeep” by a random person at the gas station unfamiliar with the exact brand, make, or model. Perhaps that is the truest test of all of if it’s a jeep or not.
What is a Jeep?I read the Trail Head column online, and while it didn’t directly answer the question of what makes a Jeep a Jeep, in my eyes it is a great opportunity for the hobby in the future and a new market segment. As matters go environmentally, one day, still quite away but inevitable, internal combustion cars will probably be outlawed and we probably won’t drive. That will leave many off-road enthusiasts with vehicles that are not street-legal anyway. Vehicles like the Roxor could be the future. Maybe it will spark other manufacturers to build off-road-only UTVs that echo the good old 4x4s we know and love like Jeep CJs, flatfenders, Land Cruiser FJ40s, Chevy Blazers. Maybe one day soon you can go to a Ford dealer and buy a UTV built to look like a classic Ford Bronco.
Keep up your great work!
Interesting idea! We think many people would jump at the chance to buy a brand-new flatfender UTV off the dealer lot. However, technology has advanced so much that these vehicles would likely only be a shell of what they once were. The engines, transmissions, axles, and other bits would surely have to be more modern instead of what was available 70, 60, 50, 40, and even 30 years ago.
GPW CorrectionRegarding “It’s Not a Jeep, It’s a GPW” (May ’18), the Hard Facts specs on the tire and wheel size don’t match up. Other than that, I love it. Edward Wetherington
Ahhh, you caught our slipup! The GPW in question indeed features the 15x8.5-inch steel white spoke wheels that we specified, but it does not roll on 33x12.50R17 tires. It rolls on 33x12.50R15 tires. Sorry for the mix up. In a world where 17-inch wheels seem to dominate the industry, it’s nice to see some old 15-inchers every once in a while. Thanks for the correction!
Jeep LivingWe have a ’46 Willys Overland CJ-2A that I purchased in 1973. It is not pretty, but it does the job. We go off-road with it and have a lot of fun with it. Isn’t that what Jeeping is all about? I learned how to drive in one of these old rigs, well it wasn’t old when I was about 12 and my dad and uncle put me behind the wheel in the early ’50s. Now we have another ’46 CJ-2A that we got two years ago. The wife found it and we had to go look at it. As she said, “It is so pretty.” I have a wife who doesn’t complain about buying another Jeep, no she finds them. When I said something about upgrading to a Wrangler, she said, “No, take the money and fix up the other Willys.”
So who is a purist? Remember if Willys Overland didn’t come out with the CJ-2A you would most likely not have your YJ, TJ, JK, and whatever else is out there in the alphabet soup. So, to me, when I see a Wrangler wearing a spare tire cover with the word Willys on it or Willys decals on the hood, that is blasphemy; you don’t have a Willys. But if we are all part of the Jeep family, what difference does it make?
When it warms up we put the top down (wait a minute, we don’t have a top) and go for a ride around the county. If we wave to 10 Jeeps, maybe three will wave back. Sometimes I wish for safety’s sake they would tone their wave down and steer. Their smiles are as wide as the windshield. Others just keep their eyes straight ahead and look at you as if to say, “Who are you?”
Last year I took my Dodge Ram 250 diesel in to have the airbags replaced. I was looking at a ’17 Wrangler, and the salesman was on me like ants to honey. I told him I had a Willys Overland. He never heard of such a thing. One of the other salesman knew what it was. He asked what year it was, and he knew it was a CJ-2A, the first civilian Jeep. Then he said, “You have a real Jeep. This Wrangler thinks it’s a Jeep.” The bottom line is they are all Jeeps and some of us are in the Jeep family and others are not. In fact, as we have found out there is a flatfender cult out there and we are part of it.
So, load the family in the Jeep, pack a picnic lunch and go have fun. Before I forget, one more thing, everyone wave at every Jeep you see, and if you see an old flatfender, give us a big smile and wave till your arm feels like it’s going to come off, but remember, I have to tone down my wave, this old girl is hard to steer with no power steering.
Special Feature ShowcaseToday with email it is so much easier to offer opinions than it was when I had to write and mail a letter. I just wanted to say that I love Jp and have been reading it, as well as Four Wheeler and 4-Wheel & Off-Road, since I was a teenager. I especially liked the little story on Kathe Crew, the 69-year-old woman and her a Jeep (“Great American Jeep Rally,” May ’18). I think a full article or showcase on her and her Jeep would be interesting.
Thanks for being a loyal reader, and we will take a look and see if that can be made into a larger, more detailed article. We openly solicit the opinions of our readers, and the easiest way to contact us is through email.