Don’t Get me Started

I dropped into the San Jose Auto Show on Saturday. Truth be told, I’ve been dreaming about the four door Jeep since hearing the rumors.

I have a ’95 Jeep, a true war horse. Leaf springs. 258 straight six (aka 4.0 L). Carpeting removed. Rear seat removed. Cargo net. Rack. Tow hitch. Utility trailer (converted ’67 Dodge stepside box). blah blah blah. I bought it nearly new (as in, ~not~ new) and it’s been loyal these past 100,000 miles. And reliable.

I’m at a crossroads. On the one hand, I’m thinking of a Rhino liner for the interior.

“Rhino Linings, the industry pioneer and worldwide leader in sprayed-on polyurethane linings, continues to redefine ‘toughness’. Rhino Linings thick, durable linings provide superior protection for truck beds, jeeps, boats, trailers and a wide variety of consumer, commercial and industrial applications. With a name like Rhino, you can be sure you’re getting the toughest protection for your investment.”

I have the Jeep Safari Green/Tan color scheme. The interior paint is currently factory green but I’d probably make the lining tan. Nice contrast to exterior green.

And I want to replace a transmission seal. It doesn’t leak much and my local mechanic advised against replacing it. But the thought of losing a seal far from port concerns me.

And I’ve noticed the engine has lost some if its pep (annoying) and barely passed its smog test last year (disconcerting).

And, and, and… You get the point. There are things I want to have done and they start to add up. So that’s the one hand.

On the other hand, I’ve had this Jeep for 8 years. Maybe it’s time to look for a new Jeep.

My sister-in-law has a sweet ’05 Jeep. I had a chance to drive it while Tracy and I were visiting her sister over the holidays. The gears shift easily. Nice. It still had new car smell. My Jeep has old dog smell.

Anyway, while visiting Tracy’s sister in Fargo, Bob and I slipped over to Moorhead to check out the new four door Jeep. I like it. I like it a lot. Besides room to carry three kids, there’s still room for a couple of hockey bags in the back.

There is much to like about the new Jeeps but they are not perfect. Here’s a couple of things I would change in the Jeep line.

Springs. What happened to leaf springs? I know. I know. There’s all these arguments for better ride, smoother ride, blah blah blah. There should at least be an option. Leaf springs for the guy jeeps. Coil springs for the girl jeeps.

Engine. My stars! 3.8 L V-6? And who put a Frenchman on the design team? Drop this dopey metric thing. This is America. Land of the cubic inch. Liter. Pah!

I’d like to think it was a green college new hire that knew nothing of tradition. I imagine the memo came down, “We’ve been ordered to drop the time honored 258 straight six—only they’d have said 4.0L because back in ’85 some yugo driving Rhodes Scholar thought 4.0L sounded ‘modern’—We’ve been ordered to drop the 4.0L and use a stock Chrysler engine.” Somewhere in the design department, a salty Jeep old-timer spec-ed out 318 for the engine. But junior—the new college guy—knew nothing of cubic inches, or of American history, or of that workhorse of Americana … The Chrysler 318 CID V-8. And 318 became 3.8, just like that.

At least, that’s what I imagine. I like that version because it says there are old-timers at Jeep.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for progress. The first Jeep I drove was a ’51 Willys used mostly for duck hunting. It had a start pedal, 24-volt electrical system, functional fold down windshield, manual choke, manual throttle control and other oddities. But I wouldn’t trade my civilian ’95 for that ’51. No way. Technology, materials and design have come a long way. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to use a can of starting fluid.

But I digress. Bottom line… update the 318 and replace the decal. Change the decal from 3.8 to 318. Call it a ‘not so subtle change’ in the glossy brochures. Be authentic. TV ads with the president of Jeep walking out and declaring “What were we thinking? Three point eight? What’s the F?”

Then have a pit crew rip the old V-6 out of a Jeep and uncrate a new (and revamped) 318. “Now *that’s* what I’m talking about!”, says Jeep president.

Also at the Auto Show was the Gladiator, a new Jeep concept truck. It sported a 2.8L engine.

Two point eight? Don’t get me started.

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