What is a "Real" Jeep?
by Larry H. Morton
The question about what constitutes an authentic Jeep has been discussed and argued endlessly...with no end in sight (including this article).
Ever since the Jeep division owners 'du jour' decided to add a vehicle or two that roughly (but not quite) resembled the military MB, GPA or early CJ (universal style) models, many Jeep purists of the day screamed "foul".
Examples like the early Jeepsters, Wagons, Forward Controls, Gladiator Pickups and Wagoneers were attempts by the corporate suits to spread the Jeep wings and branch out into the competitive world of diversity marketing.
Although some of these models were met with pretty good sales success, the Jeep purists were saying "what will they do next to bastardize the great Jeep Universal?"
Later when American Motors Corporation (AMC) bought the Jeep brand, followed by Chrysler in its various incarnations of ownership, the world saw more diversity in the Jeep lineup. Jeepster Commandos, J-series pickups, Cherokee FSJ, more Wagoneers, Cherokee XJ, Grand Cherokee, Patriot, Commander and Compass...among others hit the scene to capitalize on the Jeep branding and ultimately the Jeep Badge.
Don't get me wrong. I really like a lot of these Jeep badged 4 by 4's, especially the Jeepster's, Wagons, old pickups, Wagoneers, Cherokee's and Grand Cherokee's. However, it has often been the Universal Jeep style that kept these companies going, even when their other vehicles were losing money.
So, are the Jeep (Universal) purists still crying "foul"? You bet they are, and I think I know why.
Every time the Jeep division introduces a new model looking like every other SUV, or crossover vehicle in the world, the purists wonder how much longer until they start messing with the Wrangler? When will they start giving the Wrangler a softer rounded look with more car-like features? The designers have already started softening the interior of the Wrangler until, unless you knew better, you might think you were sitting in a modern SUV.
I think that most of us who love the Jeep heritage would rest easy knowing that the Universal styled Jeeps (i.e. Bantam, MA, MB, GPW, CJ-2 through CJ-8 and Wrangler, etal.) would continue on in the American tradition from where they were born.
The Jeep brand should be held in sacred trust like any of our American traditions...regardless of who has majority ownership of the company. I'm all for improving the product, as well as making an honest buck in the process. Capitalism is a wonderful thing, especially when business owners listen to their customers.
Finally, you may draw your own conclusions as to what constitutes a "Real" Jeep. I however humbly ask...no, I proudly demand that whoever in the Jeep Division pulls the strings, is the "Big Cheese", cracks the whip, or wears the $1000 suits...(please) don't mess up our Jeep tradition.
Jeep Lover and Owner of this Website