So, a few off-roading trips, a Jeep show and many conversations with those in the know
has led me to reevaluate my original thoughts on the perfect Jeep for me. I once had high hopes and strict guidelines that seem to relax a little more each day. I wanted to revisit that original list of requirements and update you on where I stand with each now...
The original list, then & now...
TJ:The thinking then
: Despite Mike's undying love of his XJ, I want the openness of a Wrangler. I just can't afford a JK. I don't think I have the skills to restore and modify a CJ, but someday I will. So, the decision between TJ and YJ came down to the TJ's move away from the leaf spring suspension -- coils just provide a much smoother ride on the highway. Less importantly, I prefer the look of the round headlights.The thinking now
: I still want a Wrangler -- 4-wheeling for me serves the same purpose as backpacking or kayaking, getting outside and enjoying nature. It's more enticing to have an open top and no doors. I still can't afford a JK. I'm loosening up on accepting a YJ or CJ into my life. I assumed that all CJ's would be pretty little collectors' item -- no abuse allowed. There's only a limited number left and you have to take care of the ones still in existence, right? So wrong. I have gotten to see some beautiful CJ's tear up the trail and no one cares if they get a little trail pinstriping. They are also not all in such bad shape that the offer of beer and pizza to anyone who wanted to help couldn't get one trail ready.
On the matter of YJ's, they certainly can be found for a lot less money -- a big plus in my book right now. I can also learn to live with the differences in suspension. My Subaru will still be responsible for most long-haul trips, like visiting my sister or brother in Boston. The Jeep will of course, do most of the short hauls. I can live with a lesser suspension over a few miles. As for the 2-3 hours it takes to get to a good off-road trail, I can suck it up. A girl can suck up just about anything on a trail ride day! I have also grown really fond of square headlights. Maybe it's because of some things I've seen YJ's do on the trail, maybe it's my new love of classic Jeeps. Whatever it is, they just look cool -- sometimes you don't need to think about things any more deeply than that!Manual Transmission:The thinking then
: Definitely a personal choice thing. Lots of people on different boards swear by their automatic transmission, but there's just so much more control with a manual. NB: Automatic transmission are more expensive to replace.The thinking now
: Alright, so not everything's changed. I still feel like a stick is where it's at. I've watched my JonFund friends do some amazing things just by manipulating the clutch and never touching the gas or break.Never Been Off-Road:The thinking then
:If you've already beaten it up off road, I don't want it. I want to be the one to beat it up! I've become extremely wary of tow hooks and lifts, even if I know they were only added for show.The thinking now
:Was I completely mental or just naive? Money's tight and modifications are expensive. Yes, I have some good connections that can get me parts at a discount rate. Yes, I know people who will give their time to help do work in exchange for beer and pizza
. Unfortunately, even the cost of cheap parts and victuals adds up. My first rig -- and all subsequent rigs, of course -- but especially my first rig will get beat to hell as I really learn how to drive off-road. All the observation hours in the world won't actually get me ready to drive on my own. There is no limit to the amount of beatings a good Jeep can take, especially if it gets a little love in between. I'm over it. Not to say that someday, when money springs eternal, I won't take a pristine, stock Jeep and modify the poop out of it, then gladly showing off each and every piece of damage like it was a child I had produced from my loins. I've said in the past that I like a car with some history, what's better history than a lifetime of wheeling?6 Cylinder Engine: The thinking then
: Bad ass girls drive bad ass toys.
Enough said.The thinking now
:Other than the correction you all gave me about I vs. V, this one hasn't changed either. The difference in power really can be the deciding factor between owning an obstacle or the obstacle owning you; I've seen it first hand.Written & Sponsored by www.AllThingsJeep.com
and its employees.
One Girl's Journey...
A Jeep Love Affair Part 2: Bargain Hunting
I have always driven used cars. I'm a bargain hunter, a good New England girl. The high that people get from "that new car smell" has always been lost on me. To me, a car should have history. I like trying to figure out who the previous owner was, why they loved and eventually sold my beast. My very first car, a gift for my 18th birthday, would have been completely undriveable to anyone else, but I loved it. My 13-year-old Chevy Cavalier had most definitely -- if movies are to be trusted -- been the vehicle of low level drug runner. It had a false bottom; the trunk key was fake and no amount of lock picking ever opened it. It had a NO FEAR windshield decal and crown air freshener on the dashboard -- details I left intact as evidence of my car's previous life where it took more exciting trips that carting me to my job at the mall. How did I find this gem? A guy one of my sisters was dating, who may or may not have had mob connections, "found" it for me.
Car #2 was willed to me when my grandmother passed away. It still had her CB radio in it, which she used to chat with truckers. I bought car #3 from my mother's boyfriend's sister; a free spirited woman about whom my mother told funny stories. All of these cars had three things in common: 1. I loved them 2. They had great times with their previous owners 3. (This is the important one) I didn't buy them. Not until the Subaru wagon I currently drive, did I actually go somewhere and negotiate a price with a stranger. I got a pretty good deal because the dealer, who primarily dealt in Toyota pickups, regretted taking it in as a trade as his customers had no interest. He was friendly without being pushy, and I walked away with a good feeling after working with him. I also had an insurace check from the death of #3 for the bulk of the price, so there was no need to discuss financing.
So, Jeep hunting I went. No insurance check, no mobster gifts, I'd have to get some kind of loan. For my bank to give us an auto loan, the car would need to have fewer than 70,000 miles and be newer than 2003. It's a small bank and they have to be careful -- I don't blame them. However, that pushes a rig just out of my price range. I don't want to spend too much for something I plan to put beat up on the trail. So I checked into dealer financing. After one promising test drive last weekend, the dealer told me the best she could do was 28% APR -- despite good credit and a 15% downpayment. Another rig at a different lot was nearly perfect, but I didn't like the particular guy with whom we had been working. Had I dealt with any of the other salesmen who offered their help during the 45 minutes it took him to find keys and a plate, I might have even paid something as ridiculous as 28%. I just couldn't give him my money. Nothing else I saw really spoke to me. Needless to say, I am still Jeepless.
I know that somewhere out there is a rig that runs well, being sold by a likeable salesperson who can offer me an interest rate lower than my age. There is a Wrangler with personality, a great story and an I-6 engine just waiting for me. I just have to find it...
EDITOR NOTE: If you can help Corinne, our new Customer Service Manager find her perfect Jeep, post here. She needs help!
Written & Sponsored by www.AllThingsJeep.com
and its employees.