July 4th Special: The Most Original American Vehicle. Ever.
Can a national holiday fall on a worse day than on Wednesday? The entire work week is disrupted, and there's absolutely no chance whatsoever of a 3-day weekend. But the 4th of July may be the most patriotic day of the year, and it deserves a very patriotic vehicle.
The vehicle that gets my vote here is the original Willys Jeep. And this vehicle is so legendary... where is the place to start?
They were actually called the Willys MB Jeep; there was the Willys MA Jeep, which was an early production run model. But most of us just call them Jeeps. And the 60-hp "Go Devil" engine got all of them through the war.
And though many folks think that the name "Jeep" was derived from "GP (possibly "General Purpose);" others suggest it came from the cartoon character "Eugene the Jeep," from the Popeye series. The debate will continue forever.
But the Jeep was/is truly original, has remained popular to this day, and even with updates, remains true to its original form and purpose. Basic, rugged, simple on- and off-road transportation. They say that, if a Jeep with chains on its tires can't get there, then nothing can. And I can't argue with that.
They were so popular with soldiers during World War II, many Jeeps were sent to their custodians when they came back to the USA; their car/Jeep lust did not end with V-J Day, V-E Day, or any time after the war ended. The first CJ-1 (Civilian Jeep) Jeep prototypes were almost identical to the military versions, except that they had a tailgate, drawbar, and a civilian-style canvas top. Several pre-production models followed until the first model, the 1945-1949 Willys-Overland CJ-2A, was offered for sale.
In "White Christmas" (My favorite Holiday movie), the Jeep makes two appearances, both as a military personnel carrier (shown) and later as General Waverly's personal civilian ride at his Vermont ski lodge. So I guess he, too, liked the vehicle so much that he decided he'd get one after the war was over.
This is the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, the most current Jeep I could find. And at 71 years young, it still looks pretty much like the first one. But instead of 60 ponies, the new one has 280 coming from its 3.6-liter V-6.
Yes, they make a 4-door, but you know what? This is the Jeep I'd get; the classic 2-door. Let the folks in the rear climb over. Better yet, take the back seat out (Or never buy one) and let them get their own ride.
But I'd get a hardtop for the winter months. Maybe some slightly larger wheels and tires to fill in some of that wheel arch space. And I'd get A/C, just so the defroster works better. Like a roadster, a radio is almost useless in a Jeep, so I'd buy a cheap one which would probably eventually get stolen anyway.
OK, this post is over. Now let's get back to the barbeque, enjoy the watermelon, and right after dark, go see some fireworks. And what better vehicle is there to watch them from than a trusty old (or new) Jeep?
--That Car Guy (Chuck)
Image Credits: Our first Jeep image is from Willys-Jeep-mb. The 3 Jeeps image montage was found at AllPar.com. The "White Christmas" frame image is from IMCDB.org. The 2012 2-door Jeep photo is from AutoFigures.com. The final Jeep logo came from StationBay.com.