In the years of being in and around MANY Jeeps, I have learned a lot but I don’t proclaim to know it all. I can, however, give you a basic idea of owning and driving old Jeeps.
Jeeps are an odd breed. You can never say “never” when referring to what Willys, Kaiser or AMC did on certain models or years. Jeeps had some Buick parts, some Chevy, and some Ford, here and there, mixed-and-mingled. Some Jeeps made on certain years had certain specific stuff, while other Jeeps made on the same assembly line in the same year didn’t. Follow me? There really is no rhyme or reason to what the different manufacturers did. I have had people tell me, “Well they never did that in that year” or “That was never offered.” When I hear that I smile and say, ”Well, never say never!”
There are certain things that any person looking to buy a classic Jeep from me, or anyone else, should know — Jeeps are, in essence, very “basic” vehicles. Even when referring to the fully loaded Grand Wagoneers of the late 80’s and early 90’s, the bones of the Wagoneer really didn’t change all that much from its introduction in 1963 to its final run in 1991. They were leaf sprung, had solid axles and were built primarily in an era where gas mileage didn’t matter and the speed limit was 55. Most all of the Jeeps that we deal with at the “Farm” were built during this same era. Modern speed limits and gasoline with additives are not your vintage Jeep’s best friends.
Please remember this advice when buying a used Jeep and thinking about using it as a daily driver or even driving a classic Jeep across the country. I am constantly asked when I am selling a classic Jeep, “Will this Jeep make it from Phoenix to X?” I honestly cannot answer this question. Maybe Yes? Maybe No? While we take great pride in our work, a 1947 Willys with 5:38 gears and 60hp, making an 18 hour journey? Sure, it would be a blast! Our caution is, however, you need to be mechanically inclined, have appropriate tools, gas cans, and take the back roads. Be prepared for a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. These are classic vehicles. The same is true for a Jeep or a vintage Jaguar. It doesn’t matter, it’s the same for a 1978 CJ7 with a V8 and 3 speed, or a 77 Wagoneer — at 60 mph she’s buzzin’ along pretty good. Yet, if you wish to make this journey or make a classic Jeep your daily driver, I am totally on board! That is what makes the Jeep people and the Jeep Life what it is. Just keep in mind to plan gas stops, consider the outside temperature and modern highway speeds as this is not your 2016 Acura. Every Jeep has its own “personality” I have driven probably over 200 CJ’s whether owning or just test driving a Jeep for sale, I can say that no two that drive just the same. I always laugh and tell people that even a “nut-and-bolt” restored Jeep can leave you walking home occasionally, and a rusty ole’ Jeep that’s never even had a tune up can run flawlessly for a lifetime. Never say never. Jeeps are Jeeps. Everyone in the Life understands this.
A few of my favorite quotes:
- ‘Jeeps don’t leak, they mark their territory.’
- ‘Any correlation between Jeep gauges and reality is purely coincidental.’
- ‘If your Jeep doesn’t drip, you had better check the dipstick.’
- ‘JEEP: Just Empty Every Pocket.’
- ‘Jeeps are like old dogs, trustworthy, loyal, sometimes grouchy but always willing to play in the woods and are truly your best buddy.’
Please remember, Jeeps are Jeeps, they do not start, stop, or drive like a modern car. However, this is what makes them so grand!