Monday, January 29, 2018

Once A Jeeper Always A Jeeper

Being one of the hosts on the Jeep Talk Show I receive lots of emails from fellow Jeepers. Sometimes they are asking questions, sometimes they want to tell me thanks, and sometimes they just want to share a Jeep story. 

Ryan, a listener of the show, wanted to say thanks, and also share his story. So I decided I wanted to share his story with you. 

If you are ever thinking about trading in your Jeep for another vehicle you might want to think twice. Because.... Once a Jeeper always a Jeeper. 

Ryan's Jeep Story

Jeeps have been a part of my life from the day I was born. My parents have been Jeepers from the day they bought a new 94 ZJ, and there's been at least one Jeep in our family ever since. I'd been riding around in Jeeps my whole life, and I learned to drive on a 2006 KJ (first gen Liberty). When it came time for me to get my first vehicle, there was no question what is would be.

My first car wasn't a car. It was a Jeep dammit! Before I even had my driver's license, I was the proud owner of a RED 2001 XJ I affectionately called "The Brick", and let me tell you, it was the most beautiful vehicle you've ever seen from about 50 feet away, hahaha!

It was a total P.O.S., but I loved it anyway, and it gave me plenty of chances to learn how to work on vehicles. Having just gotten my license, I of course had enough driving skill to rival Baja 1000 drivers, so I decided to see how fast this thing could go.

 I took it out to a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and got that thing up to 95 mph. Flying down this dirt road was the most fun I'd ever had, catching a little bit of air as the Jeep crested the steep hills.

The next day I looked over my Jeep to make sure it was still OK, and I discovered that I had done all this while a belt was actually sticking through the tread of my front passenger tire!

Another day, my best friend and I went out driving after we had just finished finals our sophomore year of high school. It had rained the day before, so I had the bright idea to go drifting on the muddy dirt roads. 

To keep this story short, my XJ performed flawlessly while my friend's Subaru Impreza decided to head butt a tree.

After I had pointed out the tire issue to my parents, they surprised me one day with a brand new set of wheels and tires. I commented on how a Cherokee next to us in a parking lot had some really tough looking tires and was shocked to hear that it was actually my Jeep! It looked so different I literally didn't recognize it.

However, the different backspacing on the new wheels, in combination with the leaf springs that were sagging so much they had actually gone inverted, caused even the 235/75/15 tires to punch the underside of the fender flares on the smallest of bumps. This of course meant it was time for a lift kit. :)

The very first work I did on any vehicle was a full suspension swap on this Jeep, and I realized that I was in way over my head when about halfway though, my friend (the former Subaru owner) pulled so hard on the breaker bar trying to get those front leaf spring bolts out that he actually dislocated his shoulder! 

Eventually I finished the work (after almost losing my right
hand to a spring compressor that slipped), and I was officially addicted to Jeeps. I went on to add a winch bumper, some real headlights, and some LED's as my high school student budget would allow, while taking my Jeep to a local Jeep dealership that had an off road test track and mud pit as often as I could.

Although I loved this Jeep with all my heart, it was about as reliable as a politician's conscience, and after owning it for 2 years, I sold it - a decision I regretted horribly once I realized I had sold the Brick to buy . . . . . a 2006 Mini Cooper S. I'm hanging my head in shame just thinking about it.

That incredibly long intro brings me to why I'm writing you guys tonight. I want to share that as of a couple days ago, I have redeemed myself. 

After only one year with the Mini, I'm back in a Jeep! Remember that friend with the Subaru? His mom decided to sell her garage queen - a 1998 TJ with only 97,000 miles on it and in absolutely pristine condition. 

I bought it the day she put a for sale sign in the window. This thing could have rolled off the factory floor yesterday. The only modification (for now) is a Smittybilt winch sitting proudly on the bumper. It's a Sport with the 4.0 and AX-15, and not a spot of rust - more common than an entire herd of unicorns here in Colorado. 

Now, I'm sure you guys are wondering what color it is. As a disclaimer, I'm partially color blind, so to me it's a lovely deep blue. However, I'm told it is indeed . . . PURPLE! Sure enough, the factory build sheet confirmed the color as Deep Amethyst Pearl. 

I absolutely love this Jeep, and I plan on keeping it around until the wheels fall off. At which point i'll just buy more wheels. Cruising around has convinced me that half doors are the single greatest development in the history of motor vehicles.

Although the zippered windows are a slight P.I.T.A. when it's only 15 degrees and you're trying to get through a drive-through (luckily Jeep is really good at making heaters).

I'm back in a Jeep again, smiling from ear to ear just thinking about it. I can start waving at other Jeepers again, because I wasn't getting much response when I'd wave at a CJ on 37's from my Mini, hahaha! It's good to be back where I belong. I won't make the same mistake again.

I love the show guys, and it always moves to the top of the list in my podcast feed. And Tammy- thanks for not being afraid to ask questions! The first episode of the then- XJ Talk Show I listened to was when the Wrangler talk segment debuted back in ep.158, and I've been learning alongside you ever since. It was nice to hear the perspective of someone like me, rather than everyone on the forums that thinks they understand more about Jeeps than the engineers who designed them! 

Thanks Ryan for sharing your story with me! ~Tammy

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