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Top 10 Jeeps of 2007 - The Fix Is In

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 14, 2008 Comment (0)
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Once we're done wrapping up the last magazine of the year, each Jp editor sits down and thumbs through all 10 issues to pick his 10 favorite Jeeps. This year, aside from the project vehicles owned by the staff members, the field was open to any Jeep that appeared anywhere in the pages of Jp.

After all the votes are in, the story monkey assigned to write this annual awards presentation (yours truly) automatically selects any Jeep that gets more than two votes. Thankfully, there are only three editors on staff (John Cappa, Christian Hazel, and Pete Trasborg), so a tie vote doesn't have to be decided by a cage-match knife fight. Good thing for the other staffers because I can carve like turkey is currency. After that, it's up to said monkey to pick however many rigs may be needed to fill in the blanks.

While there's really no true award other than bragging rights, you can be sure no money has changed hands (unfortunately) to sway the judging. These are really our favorites. This year, the staff actually agreed on eight. That's got to be some kind of record. So here for your approval or amusement are Jp's top-10 Jeeps of 2007.

With most of the staff enjoying a newfound appreciation for vintage stock wheeling after the great rockcrawling burnout of 2006, Jim Dresslar's '72 CJ-5 represents a high-water mark for both early CJ design and technology and for tasteful modifications that don't detract from the stock flavor.

Hazel: It's orange. That's nearly enough to put me into a tailspin. But the white steel wheels, the nicely upholstered stock seats, and the CJ-7-size door openings that I won't clock my knee on every time I get in and out of it keep me awake at night thinking about it.

Trasborg: OK, maybe I wouldn't want to drive one every day, but man, that's a nice intermediate CJ-5.

Without Jeep's team of maverick designers and engineers, we'd likely never have vehicles like the Rubicon or this bitchin' pickup/ute based off the Egyptian military JK chassis. All right, technically, we don't have the JT yet, but how much more do we have to beg? This vehicle really struck a chord with the Jeep populous, from its utility, off-road capability, and even the vintage beige hue.

Trasborg: I'm bringing the MJ back due to popular demand. People really like that truck.

Cappa (whose nearly every selection was a pickup truck): It's a truck. See a theme yet? Come on, Jeep, build it already.

Apparently, the boys like their MJs, because betweenCappa and Trasborg, they had nearly every one from 2007 on their lists. Ron's '88 MJ with an '01 XJ front clip appeared in the Jeep Shots section and wowed the gang with its clean lines, 611/42-inch lift, 33-inch Pro Comp MT tires, and updated interior featuring most of the '01 XJ's amenities-from power windows to airbags.

Cappa: This is simple, if Jeep actually built a pickup in '01, I would have one. By combining an older Comanche and a newer Cherokee, that's exactly what Ron Farrell built here. Funny thing is our Project TJ (Red) was almost an '01 Solar Yellow XJ-until Jeep decided to discontinue them.

Trasborg: If the geniuses at Jeep didn't kill the Comanche, we'd all be tripping over ourselves to get a '98-'01 MJ, instead of the '92.

To a collection of enthusiasts largely accustomed to the slow-speed world of rockcrawling or the visually stunted world of mud bogging, which is viewed from behind a cloud of goo, the acrobatic antics of these Scandanavian 4x4 nuts is pure adrenaline. Huge engines, lots of nitrous, and paddle tires on the front axle? How could you possibly ask for more?

Trasborg: When are we going to Norway, the Netherlands, or wherever these Jeeps are?

Hazel: It's Iceland, Pete, but you go look for them in the volcanic terrain of the Netherlands. We'll wait.

Cappa: Who wouldn't want a nitrous-breathing, 1,000hp, four-paddled flattie to rip through the mud, dunes, and hydroplane on lakes? And then make your buddies wet themselves and cry like little girls when you romp on the throttle within 20 feet of 'em. Not to mention you could sandblast the paint off an H2 in less than 10 seconds, and with a change of tires, you could go four-wheel-drifting to the local burger joint.

While Larry Minor is a legend in the world of motorsports, his Jeeps are legendary. While we're stretching the boundaries by calling these tube-chassis, fiberglass-bodied monsters Jeeps, they look the part, and for something as sinisterly enjoyable as they are, that's close enough for us.

Cappa: OK, I have no idea where half the stuff on this Jeep comes from or how to fix it, but I want it! I've seen Larry Minor blast up dunes faster than Rosie after a Hostess truck. I'm sold. And it's not even four-wheel drive.

Hazel: Anything with more than 1,000 hp has to go into consideration. But having ridden in this thing, I can honestly say I've never been in anything that accelerated as hard or that put as wide a smile on my face. It's pure function for the sake of having fun.

Basically, take a military M35A3 6x6 truck that's not yet available to the general public, add one hell of a nice camper with granite counters, birch cabinets, and even a full bath, and then enjoy the outdoors with all the luxury of air-ride suspension, onboard heater, A/C, compressed air, microwave, and probably even Internet and cable (we're speculating on that last one).

Trasborg: Bill Doyle's A3 camper. It seemed kinda cramped to me inside, but a deuce with air and all the amenities of home? If this were an M-725, Bill would have a restraining order on me by now.

Cappa: You can't even buy an M35A3 and his has been converted into a camper! Everything from the monster winch, double bead-lock wheels, CTIS, (CAT engine?), and add-on overdrive just oozes cool. I have no idea what I would do with it, but I want it. But I know one thing for sure, if World War III ever broke out, it would be cockroaches and me.

What!? Two 2WD Jeeps in one top-10 list-have we gone soft? Maybe a little in the middle, but if you can't appreciate a relatively rare, super-clean, stock-looking-yet-under-the-skin-updated vintage Jeepster, then we don't want to know you. Despite looking like it just rolled off the assembly line in Toledo in 1948, Collin's VJ is tricked out with an even-fire Buick V-6, a 9-inch rear axle, and even a Mustang II IFS front suspension. Modern driveability with vintage vibe. Ooooh.

Trasborg: Colin Peabody's Jeepster. If I could get over sitting so low, I'd build a Jeepster just like this. Sure, it wouldn't win any stoplight drag races, but all the original stuff was there, with some period-correct trinkets to boot, with all the reliability of a later drivetrain.

Hazel: Aaaarghlkdghgl (muffled drooling sounds). With the exception of needing an injected Mustang 5.0L engine and a T5 stick tranny, this thing would make the perfect daily driver.

Few vehicles hold the off-road clout of an M-715. Maybe it's the military hardware, the no-nonsense lack of amenities, the beefy running gear, or its ability to fit 42s with hardly any lift. Regardless, Terry's built-for-rocks version walks the walk, even if it belches 6.2L oil and smoke in the process.

Cappa: Sorry, Hazel, Trasborg, and Nasi, but your M-715s don't hold a candle to this one as far as cool factor. Did I mention I like trucks?

Hazel: It's cool, but as soon as you bob the bed on an M-715, I think it loses all its mojo.

Trasborg: Regardless of the fact that Cappa loves taking every appearance of an M-715 in the magazine as an opportunity to knock one of the staff's M-715s (this one being no exception), I likeM-715s, and I particularly like this one. I agree with Hazel about the chopped bed.

Aside from the fact that the M-38 is one of the coolest, best-appointed flatties ever built, and this one is decked out with too many trinkets and military widgets to mention, Ron and Bonnie own it for all the right reasons. Basically, to enjoy the Jeep, the outdoors, and each other.

Hazel: I wrote in the story if the Livingstons ever decide to sell it, I'd be there the next day to drive it back to Los Angeles. If they don't take the hint soon, I'm just gonna leave a blank check nailed to their garage door and hotwire it myself.

One of the hot buzzwords in the vintage car scene nowadays is the term "barn find." It's gotten to the point that unscrupulous sellers are taking older vehicles, adding fake patina, and selling them for premium prices as forgotten jewels. Jim Sieger's '66 barn find is the real deal, with 33,000 miles on the ticker and all the original components.

Hazel: Few people realize just how capable a stock CJ-6 can be. The 101-inch wheelbase makes it possible to get up and over stuff that would stop a CJ-5 all day long. Jim's runs the original F-head, 4.27s, and original drivetrain. I really miss my CJ-6, Project Hatari! I'd love to own an orange CJ-6 like Jim's. I'd add an overdrive to the Spicer 18, build my own rollcage, throw on a soft top, and drive the tires off of it.


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