Digestible Collectible: 1978 Jeep Renegade Levi's Edition

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

One day, two blue Jeep Renegades. I wonder which will be worth more in ten years. To be fair, I’m trying to compare apples to refrigerators here. The modern Renegade is a commuter appliance with some off-road pretense. The vintage truck here could be used for commuting, but is at home on the trails.

I can’t claim to be a Jeep fan. I live in Midwestern suburbia, where the most difficult terrain I’ll encounter is frost-heaved interstate in April. My weekends are spent hauling kids to sporting events, or occasionally, my golf clubs to the nearest cheap course, rather than hauling a big-tired rig to the forest. I’ve driven a Jeep exactly once, for about an hour, and I came away unimpressed with the on-road manners.

This Jeep, however, is special. Very few survive even ten years without serious modification, let alone thirty seven years. The seller claims this barn-find Renegade Levi’s Edition has never been modified, and by the photos, I can’t dispute that. That little red badge on the fenders might hold the key to collector value someday, too.

The denim seats are a bit cheesy, especially for a vehicle that is quite likely to see rain in the cabin. But unlike other “designer” cars of the Seventies — like the Bill Blass Lincoln or Oleg Cassini Matador — I can see this rolling across a stage at a big auction. I could even see myself owning it. The full-time all-wheel drive and automatic transmission, while less than ideal for hardcore off-road work, would make it palatable for my wife.

The automotive world is full of recycled nameplates, most of which fail to live up to their legendary predecessors. The Jeep legacy comes from decades of dependable service both in the military and for off-road enthusiasts. Modern commuter Jeeps trade on that legacy, and generally fail to live up to it.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Toad Toad on Sep 11, 2015

    An older Jeep Wrangler is a great second car, especially if you want a convertible but don't like little sports cars. Few cars are more fun on a nice day than a dropped top Jeep. As a daily driver, particularly in family duty, a Wrangler makes no sense; it was not designed as a family truckster or commuter vehicle and is a poor choice for that job. But few vehicles will give you more grins than an occasional drive in a topless Jeep.

  • Willyam Willyam on Sep 11, 2015

    The grammar is so bad. My eyes. A "Barn Fine". The FONT and center "un"-justify. I actually scrolled to the bottom first to see if this was a Nigerian scam. It may still be ("Jeep ordered in Nigeria by my uncle who may be related to you as possible millionaire inheritance please kindly provide bank information to verify..."). Still, I am filled to the brim with want. The only thing better would be the Spirit of '76 edition. The object of my childhood Jeep dreams.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.