I Hate Jeeps
by Larry Morton
Jerry's 1944 Willys MB
Let me rephrase that.
I hate where Jeeps are headed. No, let's try this one more time. I hate where the new
Jeeps are headed.
Okay, that's a little better. Now that I've gotten that off my chest let me explain what I mean.
As the author and owner of www.4-The-Love-of-Jeeps.com
I fully admit to being a Jeep "traditionalist". For over 70 years the Willys, then Kaiser, then AMC, then Chrysler corporations carefully managed to crank out at least one iconic "Jeep" model maintaining the essence of the first military Willys MB and Ford GPW models.
Also, during this 70 year period other classic Jeep models appeared that made significant names for themselves such as the Willys Wagons, Willys Pickups, J-series Pickups, Wagoneers, Cherokee, Jeepster, etc.
However, the only one that has endured throughout the entire history of the Jeep badge is the "Universal" style, again based on the first military models.
Including the military "Jeeps" there have been the CJ, Wrangler YJ, Wrangler TJ, and Wrangler JK models all of which have maintained much of the original Jeep heritage...at least in overall style and function.
So, what is threatening Jeep traditionalist's such as myself and many others? Simply stated it is the now overwhelming European influence primarily brought about by the majority ownership of Chrysler (hence Jeep) by the (Italian) Fiat Corporation.
Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with innovation and change...except when it begins to take away that which made Jeeps famous and loved by many in the first place.
Fiat and collaborative American Jeep engineers are rumored to be "softening" the future Wranglers. Note
: The remaining Jeep fleet has already undergone the softening process to the point where they are not much different than any other all-wheel-drive European vehicle
The new Wrangler will reportedly have an independent front suspension replacing the tried and true solid front axle. The rear solid axle may also be replaced by an independent system just as the Grand Cherokee of late. I have written articles about the pros and cons
of IFS, and the "cons" tend to win out unless future Wrangler owners only plan to use their Jeeps in snow or on mostly flat dirt roads.
Simple stated, the initial cost of owning a Wrangler with IFS vs. solid axles will be quite high. Then there will be the cost of repairs that will certainly be higher with the IFS.
On top of the mechanical changes coming our way, the Wrangler will be more streamlined and have more bells and whistles than a train station. At some point I fear that there will not even be any semblance of the style that captured the hearts and minds of so many, for so many years.
I am aware that many new Jeep owners of the future will be satisfied with the boutique Wranglers (and other phoofey Jeep models), but for those of us who know what it is like to drive a real Jeep I for one say "no thanks".
Call me old fashioned; call me behind the times; or, call me a curmudgeon, but I will stick with the pre-Euro, tough, rugged Jeeps that, for better or worse have held the imagination of generations for over 70 years.