• And in this corner, the contender for Worst Model Name Ever: the Maserati Kubang. It will be the Grand-based SUV, not the name of another Ricky Martin song.
• And in this corner, the contender for the Say What? Award: the Kubang will be built in Detroit?
• Is Chrysler going to buy the Jeep-y Israeli AIL Storm 3 (Sufa 3)? It’s a vehicle used by the Israel Defense Forces and is based on the J8. According to ynetnews.com, Chrysler manufactures the components but can’t assemble the vehicle; those lines are in Israel, Egypt, and Venezuela. Chrysler likes the Israeli plant. The site also noted that if it goes as planned, this will be the first time a foreign manufacturer will market an Israeli-made vehicle abroad.
• A Grand Cherokee “interior concept” was created. Jeep gave it blue leather seats and “careful interior details.” Way to acknowledge the haphazard previous interior work, Jeep.
• There’s a free iPad app from iTunes for the new Grand. You can take a 360-degree look-see, customize, watch commercials (commercials: well worth the $500 investment in an iPad), look at product stuff, see interviews, check out videos, and more.
• We’d written about the upcoming Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival in these pages, and now it is a … pastcoming. The event’s parade featured 1,106 Jeeps, which makes it eligible for consideration by the Guinness Book of World Records. The crowd was about 35,000 deep, and owners/spectators came from as far away as India, Iceland, and Australia.
• NHTSA is poking around 200,000 ’04-’05 Libertys to look into some complaints of lower control-arm failure.
• Tierra Del Sol, TDS, Desert Safari—call the Four Wheel Drive Club of San Diego’s event what you will, but make sure it involves the number 50; it has reached that annual anniversary. And pardon me? Did you just say there might be a special-edition TDS Jeep?
• Oh, Florida, it’s good to see you again. This time you’ve given us a 27-year-old dude who outfitted his Jeep with a turret and multiple PVC tubes. My Fox DC reported that police said his plan was to ignite mass quantities of fireworks at the National Mall as a statement over problems he had with the banking industry. We get it—our branch still doesn’t have Saturday hours either.
• NASA and racecars? They have nothing else to do around there now that space programs are dead. They’ve created an interactive online program so that you can check out all the contributions NASA has made to racing, like fire-resistant materials, improvements to brakes, and special paints. There’s also info on partnerships between the automotive industry and NASA. Head to www.nasa.gov/r2r.
• Forbes named America’s Fastest Roads. Included were northbound Arizona State Route 79 between Saguaro National Park and Phoenix, Oklahoma State Highway 33 in both directions (just northwest of Oklahoma City), California State Route 73, both ways between Moulton Parkway and Bear Street, and Eastbound MI-5 Michigan Highway going into Detroit from the I-275/I-96 interchange to Telegraph Road.
• UK insurance company Diamond did a study of 2,000 parents and learned that one in four British children get carsick. Wusses.
• Kettering University and Chrysler have partnered on a co-op program in which students will alternate between work and school terms every three months.
• Motor Village: Remember it as the shiny, new all-Chrysler-brands, Chrysler-owned dealership that came to Los Angeles this time last year as the Next Great Dealership Thing? Hold off on a birthday gift. Looks like Chrysler will be trying to unload it to avoid disciplinary action by the DMV for violating state franchise laws.
• You now can download a gospel version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” performed by the choir Selected of God from iTunes. Chrysler partnered with Eight Mile Style, a publisher of Eminem compositions, and publishing proceeds will be donated to three local Detroit charities.
• The FBI’s 2010 Uniform Crime Report noted a 7.2-percent decrease in auto theft compared with 2009.
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“It is too late in Wrangler’s product cycle to add a pickup. The 2015 or 2016 timeframe makes more sense. That’s when we’ll refresh the Wrangler.” —Jeep CEO Mike Manley to Automotive News
Remember the “Call of Duty: Black Ops Jeep”? Meet the ’12 version, which is “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” Or MW3 if you’ve never kissed a girl. The Rubicon-based Wrangler is featured in the game, and the living, breathing version comes in Black or Bright Silver skin and with COD MW3 graphics and logos in places not so subtle, a special hood, a winch-ready bumper from Mopar, as well as other Mopar accessories, like the rear bumper, taillight guards, and fuel-filler door. There’s more stuff, but we’d hate to ruin the surprise.
For those of you outside North America, you can partake—or is that parka-take—in the new Wrangler Arctic, which is a Sahara with a winter theme. We were a bit confused on the selling point Jeep was trying to make by saying, “The Arctic badge and decal recall the Yeti, the legendary creature…” and then we stopped reading that part because we looked at the badge and decal. Choosing not to look further at said badge and decal, we focused instead on the special black 17-inch wheels and the fact that those dang Europeans get a 2.8L diesel in their Wrangler. The model hits dealerships early 2012.
This Month in Random Jeep History
• January 14, 1942: J.W. Frazer, president of Willys-Overland, writes a letter to “all automotive dealers in the United States” letting them know he’d just heard that the manufacture of autos would be discontinued from January 31 through the duration of the war, “or until the rubber situation is eased.” He told them he intended to try and help them keep busy, querying about the machinery in their shops, and also addressed their sales skills: “What do you think you can sell best? Is it bicycles, gas masks, fire-fighting equipment, civilian defense items, etc.?”
• January 1967: The new Jeepster Commando meets the public.
• January 1986: The CJ-7 is discontinued.
• January 7, 1992: The brand-new Grand Cherokee famously smashes through a glass wall when introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
• January 1992: ZJ production begins at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.
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Things To Do With Your Jeep
• January 7: Tread Trainer Certification Course hosted by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Corona, California, 4x4training.com
• January 14: Getting Started Off-Road Driving hosted by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, California, 4x4training.com
• January 15: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving hosted by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, California, 4x4training.com
• January 28: GPS Adventure hosted by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Johnson Valley, Lucerne Valley, California, 4x4training.com
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• Chrysler will be mating a new eight-speed auto trans to the Pentastar V-6. The 845RE will start off in the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger; the trans comes from ZF and is already utilized by Audi, BMW, Range Rover, and Rolls-Royce.
• Superlift has made custom bumpers and racks for the Red Jacket Firearms Sons of Guns company trucks. Actually, they were made by the company’s Metalforms USA manufacturing division, but Superlift-brand products also appear on the vehicles: 4-inch lift and Superrunner steering correction kit on one, custom spring spacers on the other. Sons of Guns is on The Discovery Channel.
• Looks like Dana axles will be going into GM downsize pickups.
• BFGoodrich two-parter, part one: Remember a couple of months back we told you that enthusiasts would get to pick one of the trails to nab $4,000 in grant funds, thanks to the BFG Outstanding Trails program? It’s official: The Dusy-Ershim OHV Route rocked the vote. It’s sponsored by The Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno, California.
• Griffin Thermal Products has opened a newly refurbished 330,000-square-foot facility in Piedmont, South Carolina.
• Toyo Tire is holding an Ultimate Ride sweepstakes from now through January 2. Each week a winner will receive a set of tires; the grand prize is a new Dodge Durango. Look for details at toyotires.com/sweepstakes.
• BFG, part two: The Morrison Trail in Clark, Wyoming, is another new member of the Outstanding Trails club. Magic City 4-Wheelers received a grant of $4,000 for trail preservation.