Jeep – A significant vehicle in automotive history

The Jeep was born from necessity to help defeat the Axis powers in WWII, and the original vehicle still exists 75 years later in the form of the 2-door Wrangler. Jeep gave us the HMMWV/HUMMER, however it also influenced several vehicle designs, and even the birth of a competitor that the Jeep brand looks to emulate to this day.

I would go so far as to say that the Jeep, is the most influential vehicle in automotive history, and I have listed several reasons below…

  • Success in WWII was largely attributed to the ability of the United States to out produce the Axis Powers, and the Jeep was of significant influence in the ground war. It has been said that without the Jeep, we would not have won WWII

  • Maurice and Spencer Wilks of the Rover Company used a Willys Jeep as the basis of the first Land Rover, in 1947. Land Rover became a dominant utility and off road vehicle around the world, and FCA Jeep strives to emulate their success in the luxury SUV market today
  • The Original Jeep was also the inspiration for the Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Bronco and International Scout, all of which began life as a ladder frame, solid-axle front and rear 4X4 vehicle
  • The Jeep was the first sport utility vehicle, maybe even a utility vehicle first, as the first civilian Jeeps were known as Agri-Jeeps, for all of the tractor like implements they could be fitted with
  • Speaking of sport utility vehicles, the Jeep invented the category,  and I would argue is the only true remaining sport utility vehicles in production.  I am considering that the completely removable top, as well as doors gives the Jeep the sport piece, and perhaps it does not incorporate a PTO for the utility, it’s certainly more of a sport utility than a Ford Explorer!

And today, the Jeep lives on in 2018, true to it’s original design with the JL!

 

IT ALREADY HAS A NAME!!!

IF you have a white Cherokee, you can name it Elizabeth Warren, but that is the ONLY exception!

“I’m struggling with what to name my Jeep, HELP!”

“Need a name for Her”

WHY?!  WHY?! WHY?! Why do some folks want to name their vehicle?!  I don’t get it?  And more than one person has told me that I am not a “real Jeeper” for not supporting this insanity!

Your Jeep came with a name already…Jeep!  And it’s name is yours, and my Jeeps name is mine, so nobody needs any help!!!

 

There’s a word that defines this, anthropomorphizing : to attribute human form or personality to

PLEASE STOP THE ANTHROPOMORPHIZING INSANITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!


Where to Wheel / Bundy Hill ORV Park (Jerome, MI)

Another one of my annual wheelin trips is out to Bundy Hill ORV Park in Jerome, MI.  Bundy Hill is an old gravel pit, turned into an all purpose off road vehicle park, open to every kind of off road vehicle.

https://www.bundyhilloffroad.com/

Bundy Hill is located just west of Michigan International Speedway, near the Irish Hills.

Bundy is 350 acres of “mild to wild” off road opportunities.  There really is a trail for every type of vehicle and skill level.  Bundy is private, so ORV stickers are not needed, however trail flags must be attached to your vehicle.

Trails are rated in level of difficulty from Green (easiest) to Red (hardest) and all trails are well marked within the park.  Some trails are clearly marked as one-way only, and there are some trails limited to dirt bikes only, so there is little concern with coming head to head with a motorbike on a tight trail.

BUNDY HILL MAP

There are some man made rock obstacles that are a test of man and machine.

There was an old GM pick-up that had been crushed and driven over a few times as well.

Bundy offers plenty of water to wade into, if you need to test out that new snorkel!

At check in, the park officials provide a brochure/map that has there number on it if you are in need of getting unstuck, should you be wheelin alone, or you get that stuck!

I highly recommend making a trip out to Bundy Hill, and getting some Bundy Mud on your ride, because it still looks cool days later!

The first Jeep Monster Truck?

Having been 5 or 6 years old, at the time and there to witness Bob Chandler and The Original BigFoot crush cars at the now crushed Pontiac Silverdome, has there been a Jeep, or HMMWV/Hummer Monster Truck on the national circuit?

I recall a fair amount of Jeeps participating in the Tough Truck Challenge that was held during the Monster Truck shows, before the “fun police” shut that down, however don’t recall a Jeep or HMMWV/Hummer Monster Truck?

 

Admittedly I have not followed the Monster Jam circuit very closely in recent years, however I came across the Son UVA Digger Monster Jam die-cast, and it’s a Willy’s Wagon.  Is this really the first representation of the Original 4X4 as a Monster Truck?

Where to Wheel / Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Mears, MI)

 

 

 

One of my annual wheelin trips is Silver Lake Sand Dunes, in Mears, MI.  Within the Silver Lake State Park, there is an off-road vehicle (ORV) scramble area.  The scramble area is over 400 acres open to motorized vehicle traffic, and as close to the desert you can wheel in the mid-west.

Silver Lake is located on Michigan’s northwestern shore, in the heart of a summer vacation mecca.

Because the ORV area is part of the State Park, there are rules, regulations and of course…fees.  Click on the link below for details.

Silver Lake State Park ORV Area / Rules & Requirement

The rules and regs have helped keep the dunes open, as there is always a movement by the Fun Police to shut down the ORV area.  The Michigan DNR maintains a clear presence, and patrols the ORV area often.  Their patrol vehicle is not a seven slat ,however they do have some pretty cool tricked out Ford Raptors!

I assume that it goes without saying, but we all know what happens when we assume…you need to air down before heading out onto the dunes.  My first time out on the dunes in my JK, a gentlemen in a large tire Dodge Ram let me use his TeraFlex 4807200 Air Deflator, and it worked great.  Simple, the size of a key chain, I purchased this same Deflator and it resides in the glove box of my JK at all times.

When you first enter the dunes, to your left is Test Hill.  Test Hill got it’s name, as it is the test of your vehicles ability.  The difficulty of the “test” can vary, as the dunes are constantly changing with the wind.  My first time at the top in my JK took three tries, in the past couple of years I have made it up on the first go.

Test Hill is within the area of the dunes where traffic is directional, so there’s no worries about someone coming up the other side.  It can also be entertaining, to just sit and watch various vehicles attempt Test Hill.

To the north of Test Hill, the rest of the dunes area is pretty wide open wheelin, with a few water holes, and some of the holes are deceiving.  Here is a meme from a photo of a JK at the dunes, so go around, or have a snorkel!

The dunes is a great place for the HMMWV or HUMMER, as there is very little area where the trail gets tight, if at all.  You enjoy great views of Lake Michigan, and can even enjoy the lake, when you need a break from behind the wheel.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes deserves a spot on the list of places to wheel, and I look forward to getting out on the dunes every Summer!

Hope to see you out there!

Jeeps and beer

What do you get when you spell Jeep backwards and upside down?  Beer!  Jeeps and beer were meant to go together, a bottle opener was built into the JK!

There are countless items with the Jeep beer logo, like the shirt below.

Following are a couple of examples where a Jeep has been used in the marketing of a beer.

I can’t yet give a review on Hamms Beer, however I can say that the commercial is pretty cool.  I am sure that a commercial like this would not be produced today, with the safety of the bear as the excuse.

I thought the guy was nuts for driving with the rock catcher folded down, but he’s driving around with a bear in the Jeep!  That commercial makes me want to try a Hamms!

A beer that I have tried, and do highly recommend is Founders Brewing Company’s All Day IPA.  As you can see, All Day IPA has the classic Jeep Grand Wagoneer on it’s label.

All Day IPA is a Session Ale, a style of beer not as bold as some of the craft beers you may have tried.  Here is the Brewmaster that created All Day IPA, Jeremy Kosmicki explaining what a Session Ale is.

I believe the label is fitting, as I would enjoy driving my Jeep out to the campsite, and enjoying some All Day IPA.

I have not been here yet, however I learned of a bar that serves beer from a Grand Wagoneer!  The Hopsmith Tavern in Nashville, TN.  Just from the tap handles on display, I would say that it’s worth a visit!

www.hopsmithnashville.com

And as a Jeep owner, sometimes you just need a beer after you had a good day out wheelin’, or something broke, or you’re just wrenching away on a new modification in the garage.

Remember, NEVER drink and Jeep(Drive)!

Toledo Jeep Fest 2016

I attended the inaugural Jeep Fest on Saturday, August 13, 2016.  2016 was the 75th anniversary of the Jeep, and fitting for the City of Toledo to celebrate the vehicle that made it World famous.

I was not able to make it to Toledo in time to participate in the parade of Jeeps through downtown Toledo, however did arrive in time to watch an eclectic group of Jeeps go by.

The turnout of Jeeps and people was impressive, especially considering the heavy rains earlier in the day.  The rain let up for the parade, however the sun never really shone on the inaugural Jeep Fest.

The parade participants gathered in the heart of downtown, and braved scattered showers that threatened afternoon.

The Toledo Convention Center was the gathering point for a ceremony honoring our Nations Veterans, as well as showcasing The Original Jeeps, with incredible examples from Omix-Aida of the Bantam Reconaissance Car, MA, MB and MUTT Military Jeeps.

Omix-Aida also displayed museum quality examples of lesser known Jeeps, such as a Forward Control (FC) Pick-up, and a City of Toledo fire engine.

The Toledo Jeep Fest presented impressive vendor displays from Omix-Aida/Rugged Ridge, Dana, BestTop, Mobis, MyTop and several local Jeep clubs.

Besides the overcast weather, the only negative I could point to was the seemingly tepid presence from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).  While I was en-route to Toledo that morning, a late-model lifted, bright-orange Grand Cherokee blew past me on I-75.  The same Grand Cherokee was parked under an inflatable Jeep display just outside of the Convention Center.

The Toledo Jeep Fest is a great event for anyone with even an casual interest in the Jeep.

The City of Toledo will be hosting the next Jeep Fest beginning August 10 – 12, 2018, visit https://www.toledojeepfest.com for more information, and I hope to see you there.

 

My First Seven Slat

My first seven slat was a 1990 Jeep Wrangler Sport (YJ) with a 2.5L engine and 5-Speed manual transmission (All Jeeps should have a manual transmission, in my opinion).  My YJ was $10,000 new,  less than a third of what I paid for my JK.

My Dad purchased it new the latter part of 1989, so the “hate” for the YJ from the CJ community was still fresh.  The YJ was an AMC design, although Chrysler Corporation got the blame for releasing it, and “ruining” the Jeep.  I believe that the YJ started the movement that “The New Jeep” is not a “REAL Jeep” , so now that the JL is on the road, can I finally say that my JK is a REAL Jeep?  Even though there were the haters, the CJ drivers still waved, and as a teenager that wasn’t a jock, nor a geek, I felt accepted into the Jeep community.

My YJ was a basic S model, that didn’t even come with a radio.  Red with a sand color interior and hard top. I recall that the carpet and roll bar covers were an option.   Unfortunately, I lost all of the photos of my YJ, however it looked very similar to the photo below, tiny wheels and all.

While it was a basic model, my YJ was equipped with 4:10 gears, which helped go just fine down the highway, as well as the trail.  The YJ was a tremendous improvement over the CJ, with a stiff frame, and soft springs, making for a much more civilized ride over the CJ.  I installed lift shackles that actually flattened the spring arc, and gave my YJ an even better ride ironically.  And as much hate as there was for the YJ, there was a company that started selling a one-piece fiberglass front clip to give a CJ, the YJ look.

I do have to admit that the YJ had a very “pedestrian” look to it, with the small car tires and space saver spare.   After installing the lift shackles, I installed 31″x10.50R15 Goodyear Wrangler AT’s, and those tires made it look like a monster truck compared to stock.  Body lifts were still pretty popular, however I never had the urge to do a body lift.

When I first started my off-road Jeep adventures, I thought faster was better.  Luckily, I only sheared a couple of pan-hard bar bolts, and bent my seats up a few times, before I learned to slow it  down.  Hill climbs and jumping was what I enjoyed most with my YJ.  I got it airborne a few times with no significant damage, expect for the time that two guys on dirt bikes came over and told me how much air I got on my last jump that landed so smooth, so of course, I had to do it again.  The second jump landed hard on the front, my front passenger seat broke towards the middle of the Jeep and my buddy wound up laying in the back seat.  Initial inspection after landing didn’t reveal any other damage, until I tried to put the doors back on a few days later.  I had tweaked the body, and/or frame and my door strikers were a 1/4″ towards the front of the Jeep, and the doors would not latch.  So after removing some shims, and a little beating and banging, I had the doors sealed back up.

I wound up purchasing more aftermarket parts as replacement parts for repair than modification, however my YJ never left me walking home from the trail.  There were times I drove home with a slipping clutch that had been submerged when I got stuck in a small pond for a couple of hours, a bent leaf spring that got hung up something in the snow, or on the spacer saver after I shredded one of the 31’s playing in the sand low on air pressure.

I also drove my YJ a bit like a sports car(hey, it was a red convertible), having to replace two clutches before the 70,000 mile mark.  Somehow I burned up only the cylinder head gasket between the number two and three cylinders, which was causing really bad gas mileage, which is never good in a Jeep.  Not only was gas mileage not great, my YJ had a less than accurate fuel gauge.  I recall the Owners Manual instructing you to park the Jeep on a level surface, and turn the ignition key to the On position in order to get an accurate fuel level reading!

My YJ eventually gave up, losing compression in two clylinders.  At that time in my young life I didn’t have a lot of extra dollars or sense.  I found a buyer for my non-running YJ to give me $4,500, which was a good price considering the overall condition of my YJ at the time.

I took some of the cash and purchased a 1978 Dodge Ramcharger that was lifted, on 35″ tires and tried a big and heavy 4×4 for a while, before coming back to a 1978 CJ-7.

My CJ-7 was short lived before I took a nearly 20-year hiatus from having a Jeep of my own.  Now I am a proud owner of a JK, and will highlight my JK, which I can now call a REAL Jeep, in another post.

 

What is sevenslats.com?

Sevenslats.com is a blog for the die hard enthusiast of the World’s Most Famous vehicles with that unmistakable grille, the Jeep, HMMWV and HUMMER.

That’s right, the names Jeep, HMMWV and HUMMER were used in the same sentence.  Some folks reading this will want to come take my Jeep away from me, and extol the virtues of why the Jeep, especially their Jeep, is far superior to the HMMWV or HUMMER.  This may come as much of a surprise to some reading this, as much as it did to Luke Skywalker when Darth Vadar  told him he was his father, but it can be said that the Jeep actually “fathered” the HMMWV.  And the HMMWV gave us the civilian HUMMER line from General Motors.

The Story of Jeep by Patrick Foster, is a great read, with hundreds of photos and images explaining the family of Jeep vehicles.


The military HMMWV from AM General is a direct descendant from the Jeep.  We’ll get into greater detail in another post, however AM General was established as a separate., wholly-owned, subsidiary of American Motors Corporation (AMC).  AM General was the Company that serviced the wheeled vehicle needs of the military.  When French-based Renault purchased AMC, the United States Government forced the sale of AM General to the LTV Corporation, as it is a policy of the US that military contractors cannot be owned by foreign governments.  So, it could be said that the U.S. Government separated Jeep from it’s off-spring.

Here is a great video produced by AM General that gives a brief history of how the HMMWV/HUMMER came to be.

The Jeep has remained primarily a vehicle for the civilian market, and until recently the HMMWV has remained a vehicle for the military market.  With more and more HMMWV’s coming into private hands, what better time for a Jeep/HMMWV/HUMMER blog, and family reunion.