Back in 1987 when Chrysler bought AMC, it also assumed AMC's role in a joint venture with Beijing Automobile Works. Marked as the first automotive joint venture in China's history, this role eventually carried over to the newly formed DaimlerChrysler in 1998. As a result, big DC isn't the only one building Jeeps. Beijing Jeep Corporation (BJC), however, is the only one building the Jeep 2500.
With near-identical styling to the Cherokee, the Jeep 2500 series encompasses a good deal of Jeep lineage, including a few cues from the Jeep Liberty. Since BJC began production of the Grand Cherokee in September, 2001, it has strived to launch a new model each year. The Super Cherokee spawned as the next offering, and despite its rear bubbled roof (think Land Rover Discovery) and 105-inch wheelbase, it's a near clone of the U.S.-version Jeep Cherokee XJ. The Jeep 2500 series, with a very Liberty-esque front fascia and bumper, emerged as BJC's third Jeep model to reach production.
With a wheelbase 4 inches shorter than the Super Cherokee and a less spacious interior, the Jeep 2500 series is essentially a Cherokee as we know it, even down to the boxy rear end. The Jeep 2500 is a unibody construction and rides on a front coil and rear leaf suspension. Offered in 4x4 and 4x2 versions, the 2500 uses a 2.5L MPI four-cylinder mated to a five-speed transmission. We couldn't decipher what model axles are used, but the rear is designated as a full-floating halfshaft. BJC also manufactures its BJ-2020 City Cruiser using DaimlerChrysler technology. This light-duty 4x4 with somewhat Toyota FJ60 styling offers leaf spring suspension, a true 4WD transfer case, and a five-speed manual transmission.
BJC customers include government institutes, state-owned enterprises, township enterprises, the military, and private users, with most of the vehicles purchased for business use. This means there's a good chance that more than a few of these Jeeps could end up state side as surplus sales, adding to the wealth of used Jeep parts resting in salvage yards across the country. For more information about the Beijing Jeep Company, check out www.beijing-jeep.com.
Committed to leading ecologically responsible four-wheel-drive tours for more than 18 years, Ecological 4 Wheeling Adventures of Costa Mesa, California, hosts more than 20 backcountry trips and outdoor college classes each year. The trips - which focus on the history, flora, fauna, geology, and photography of the backcountry - range from one to 12 days and traverse through such regions as the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, the San Bernardino and Sierra Nevada Mountains, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Mono County, the Rubicon Trail, and Baja California, Mexico. All tours are led in coordination with, and permitted by, the U.S. Forest Service, the BLM, the National Park Service, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and other agencies.
In its tours, Ecological 4 Wheeling Adventures strives to educate its participants about ecologically sensitive backcountry travel ethics while providing safe and responsible 4WD adventures. The organization also attempts to increase public acceptance of responsible backcountry travel. Most of the trips, which include whale watching and cave painting tours through Mexico, cover easy to moderate trails, but a few require at least a rear locker and 4WD driving experience. One college class trip travels to the Johnson Valley OHV area where students study bomb craters, earthquake fault lines, Indian rock art, and perhaps the most interesting of opportunities, a chance to witness what's described as "the hardest 4WD trails," the Hammers.
Participants of more than two Ecological 4 Wheeling Adventures' events become part of the organization's Silver Coyote Program and receive a membership card and regular newsletter. Eco Tours founder, Harry Lewellyn, the Silver Coyote, is also author of The SUV Owner's Handbook: Shifting into 4WD, which includes trail tips on operating a four-wheel-drive vehicle off-highway. For more information, contact: Ecological 4 Wheeling Adventures, (949) 645-7733, www.rxtx.com/eco4wd.
In 2004, the Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee will be leading the trail as both will be added to Chrysler's lineup of vehicles eligible to receive the all-new RB1 Navigation Radio. The system will be offered as a factory installed option on the '04 Grand Cherokee and as a dealer-installed option for both the Grand and the Liberty.
Featuring a 4.2-inch full-color display complete with AM/FM stereo, CD player, and navigation system in one unit, the RB1 will locate addresses by street name, city name, and state, select routes, hold an address book of 100 locations, and select destinations using a map cursor. The RB1 also features voice guidance, turn-by-turn route guidance, map zoom, and automatic route recalculation and detour functions. Receiving GPS signals from as many as eight satellites, the RB1's navigation system displays the position and direction of the vehicle, with a gyroscope and the vehicle's speed sensor enabling the system to display data even in locations where GPS signal may not be available.
We needed to put a little something out there for Joel McClure and his crew at Xtreme Image in Huntington Beach, California. It seems we neglected to mention Xtreme Image in the Aug. '03 issue after Joel and Raul mounted and balanced a set of tires for us at the last minute so we could snap our needed photos and make our story deadlines. Thanks a lot, guys. A full-service 4WD shop, Xtreme Image is currently assisting us in the buildup of a '86 Suzuki Samurai, which you'll see more of in a coming issue. For more information, contact: Xtreme Image, (714) 848-8215, www.rockparts.com.
Back-Issue Owner's Manuals
We were prompted to do a bit of Internet searching after receiving repeated inquiries about where to purchase owner's manuals for particular vehicles. Whether the original was lost or never received upon purchase of a used 4x4, an owner's manual can prove to be a life saver, particularly to those with late-model, computer-controlled vehicles. We've even made good use of a manual in locating all the proper tire tools during a road-side tire change (the jack handle is where?). Check out the following Web sites for information about availability and pricing of manuals.
DaimlerChrysler vehicles: www.techauthority.com
GM vehicles: www.mygmlink.com
Ford vehicles: www.ford.com
Military vehicles and Jeeps: www.portrayal.com
Jeep vehicles: www.thejeep.com
Miscellaneous vehicles: www.vintage-books.com
Maxxis International USA
In the July '03 issue of 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility we reviewed the new Creepy Crawler tire from Maxxis International but somehow neglected to include the company's contact information. We apologize for the delay: Maxxis International USA, Dept 4WDSU, 545 Old Peachtree Rd., Suwanee, GA 30024, (800) 462-9947, www.maxxis.com.