By on April 27, 2018

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited red

Today is a sad day for the most hard-core of traditionalists and an exciting one. As we told you earlier in the week, the last Jeep Wrangler JK rolls out of the Toledo Assembly Complex today, after which the line shuts down for retooling. But the end of 12 years of JK (and JKU) production heralds the introduction of a long sought-after model: a Wrangler-based pickup, possibly named the Scrambler, which should arrive next spring.

With death comes life, but in the automotive world, nothing’s eternal.

Now that the JK’s life has drawn to a close, perhaps it’s time to do a little reminiscing — not just about experiences in the Wrangler JK, but in any Jeep.

Sadly, I can’t claim to have ever had a plucky, go-anywhere Wrangler in my possession. Canadian gas prices are (usually) too high and an upright seating position wouldn’t do my achy, lanky frame many favors. Steph needs room to stretch out.

Moreover, none of my friends ever owned a Jeep at any point in their lives. Sad! All of my youthful off-roading experiences took place in either a GMC Sonoma, Oldsmobile 88, Subaru Forester, and one easy-to-lift Toyota Tercel coupe. Get into trouble with that thing, and two guys can just move it out of the way.

There was, of course, a Jeep that got away. And man oh man, do I wish it hadn’t. After the destruction of my Chevy Corsica at the hands of a wayward Impala back in 2002, I looked at two rugged and individualistic vehicles as a replacement — the first, an ’85 Volvo 240, the second, a 1990 Jeep Comanche pickup, complete with an inline-six and stick shift. Sadly, years of road salt exposure had left the undersides of these two beauties in terrible shape, and I didn’t want to inherit someone else’s looming problem. I can only imagine how much fun I’d have had in that Comanche (and, to be fair, the 240, as well).

So, I’ve clearly crapped the bed on this whole “Let’s talk Jeepy things” exercise, but you, dear reader, can no doubt replace the awkward silence with tales of Jeep prowess. Let’s hear some stories. What was your greatest Jeep moment/accomplishment?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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48 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Greatest Jeep Memory?...”

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I’m now a two-time Jeep owner, with both being a WK2 Grand Cherokees. First was an Overland and current is a Trailhawk. They are both pieces of junk and I feel like a fool for buying a second one after having so many problems with the first one.

    That said, before the Grand Cherokees, I had a 4Runner for more than 10 years that was basically bulletproof. The problem with the 4Runner is that the northeast weather caused the frame and undercarriage to rot out severely. I don’t know if the newer 4Runners are any better in that regard, but I still can’t consider one simply because the current 4Runner is so old and ugly. It’s been around since the 2010 model year, with nothing more than a mild facelift to make it look a bit more modern. I mean, it still has a 5-speed automatic. LOL

    Anyway, between the Jeep being a piece of crap and the 4Runner being low-tech, dated, and ugly, I’ll have to consider something else entirely next time. So no great Jeep memories here, just a rant on the poor build quality and reliability of the Jeep brand in general.

    • 0 avatar

      Assuming you got them new, for the price of an Overland and Trailhawk, you probably could have bought a Land Cruiser.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Not really. I did buy both new, but you have to keep in mind that they practically give them away. My Overland stickered at just under 50K and I got it for $42K out the door. Then I traded it in three years and 45K miles later for a Trailhawk. The Trailhawk stickered just over $50K and I traded the Overland plus $10K cash out the door. So between the two of them, it wasn’t exactly as expensive as a Land Cruiser. Besides, I kind of lost some confidence in Toyota with the way their frames rust. They might be reliable, but even the fully boxed frame in my 4Runner rotted away in just over 10 years.

    • 0 avatar

      If you don’t have to tow much. Try out an Outback. I know people have issues with the Dog commercials and a few other personal issues. But it won’t fall apart like a Jeep and has decent ground clearance. Also over 30 mpg/hwy.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re shopping in the wrong segment. If you want fashion-forward and high-tech you need to steer clear of offroad vehicles. People in the offroad segment prefer tried-and-true, as well as easy to maintain, repair and modify.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Have you seen the new Jeeps? They are practically on the cutting edge of technology. My Trailhawk can park itself, (parallel or backing into a normal spot), keep itself in a lane, has adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled seats and steering wheel (heated), full air suspension, etc… The features on these things are far beyond what many people realize. Unfortunately, they also come with misaligned body panels and trim, 8-speed ZF transmissions that don’t shift correctly, multi-media touchscreens that freeze up at least three times each week, etc…

  • avatar

    In 1974, my late dad, who was a chief engineer and project manager for the defense division of McDonnell-Douglas, got in on a bid to purchase “new” 1944 Jeeps that were still in crates and “tropicalized” by being packed in cosmoline. They were intended for the Pacific Theater but never got sent. Dad’s portion of the bid was $500 and he would get four. Supposedly all the Jeeps needed was to be cleaned up with some assembly and equipped with tires and batteries. Dad would keep one Jeep and give one to each of the three sons. Sadly, the deal didn’t go through and while Dad didn’t lose any money in the process, we were all disappointed. It would have been so cool to have a WWII Jeep.

    The one that got away…

    • 0 avatar

      Growing up, a WWII Navy vet four houses away had a WWII surplus Jeep. This was long enough ago that he was in his late-40s/early-50s and the Jeep was in its late-20s/early-30s. As such, he’d drive it more in anger than a present-day Willys MB owner likely would.

      Two other Jeep memories:
      – A colleague’s trading in her Rubicon on a Cherokee because she thought the latter would be more mature, deciding she’d made a mistake, and convincing the dealer to let her return the Cherokee (as if it were a sweater from LL Bean) and get a new Rubicon instead. Pretty blondes in their 20s–especially if they’re smart–do get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us.
      – The day of a blizzard, she was one of the few employees to make it to the office. Building security chastised her for doing jumps off a snowbank in the Rubicon.

    • 0 avatar

      I always thought that the Jeep in Cosmoline was an urban legend.

  • avatar

    Taking in our Jeep for the rear windows falling down for the fourth time. Or it could have been the slipping transmission or clunk in the rear end at 21000 miles. The dealer in Florida had a Bob Evens next door. So I guess the best memory is a good breakfast at Bob Evens.

  • avatar

    Three Jeeps here, two CJ5’s with V8, 3 spds, and a YJ with a 4.0 and a 5 spd. They were all bombproof, as long as one had respect for the relatively narrow width in relation to the height. Hard to get stuck, but easy to roll. Stories will have to wait until later this evening.

    • 0 avatar

      Rescuing two grandmotherly types that wandered too far down the beach along the cliffs, and wouldn’t have made it back in time on foot with the approaching tide.

      More ski/snowboarding trips to Timberline Lodge than I can count. Pulled or winched more than a few cars out.

      Rescuing the two HS kids that played hookie, took dad’s 4X4 out on the beach… and got it stuck, both axles.

      The discovery, on a warm summer night on a logging road, that the Roll Bar also made for an ideal adult play structure.

      The winter trip to Reno with the 2nd CJ that reminded me why I had sold the first one. The noise would make you deaf on the highway, and the heater had two positions- freeze or roast.

  • avatar

    Learned to drive a stick when I was 12 in a 4 banger CJ5 out in a pasture.

  • avatar

    I have two:

    1987 spending the night in Colby, KS with a friend on the way home from a college visit in CO. My dad’s ’82 Grand Wagoneer threw a “valve lifting rod” or something to that effect? Since there was no Jeep dealer, the Ford dealer had to make the repair.

    1991 in Moab, UT mountain biking and hiking using my ’85 Grand Wagoneer for the trip. Introduced a college roommate from Houston, TX and my girlfriend’s roommate from Morocco to the beauty of the American West.

    Not particularly well-built, to be sure, but their personality made up for all their shortcomings.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      “Not particularly well-built, to be sure, but their personality made up for all their shortcomings.”

      Just to be clear, you’re talking about the Jeeps, not the ladies?

  • avatar

    Having the front right wheel on my wrangler seize while driving on 1-94. A load of laughs.

  • avatar

    This is starting to feel a lot like when a (D)/(R) solicits responses to some issue on which they assume widespread consensus in a tweet, and the respective (R)/(D) Twitterati who oppose them hijack the thread.

    On a positive note my fondest Jeep memory was the first time I applied full throttle in a Trackhawk from a near stop and time slowed down.

  • avatar

    I don’t have any yet, but I bought an 01 Wrangler, 4.0 – 5 speed last weekend so I’m on my way. The thought was to teach my 9 year old how to work on cars over the years and, by the time he can drive, know what’s going on with it. Spark plugs and oil change lesson this weekend for him! Once it’s checked out, maybe a trip to Lake Tahoe for the day.

    • 0 avatar

      Smart decision buying the 5 speed, and I think 2001 was the year they revised the cylinder head to make it stronger. Should be reliable. I’ve owned my 2003 Wrangler from new. It has 140K on the clock and the only real repair was a split radiator. Not bad for 15 years.

      Keep the revs down and keep snow and salt off of the frame. It should run forever.

  • avatar

    My best jeep memory is not buying one and instead getting a 4Runner.

    • 0 avatar
      Lee Wilcox

      We need a “like” button here. Wife doesn’t like the leg room in the 4runner but can’t come up with anything that fits our needs as well. Not much salt on the roads here in Houston so can’t think of a good reason to change. Drove jeeps in the military and they all seemed to break a lot.

  • avatar

    Oh, the memories. Owned a 1948 CJ2A back in the late 80s. Found it locally, all beat up, slapped a vinyl top on it from JC Whitney, big off road tires and rims, and some new paint, and was in full crazy teenager mode.

    Most memorable? Late night off-roading at the NJ shore, illegally, of course, and mostly in the dark, save for the weak headlights – a series of rolling hills, jostled all around, car groaning, then snap! The windshield frame breaks on one side – apparently was rusted out a bit! Drove home trying to prop it and prevent a total collapse.

    The Jeep was basically a menace to society. Couldn’t even get it much past 55mph on the highway, and people would line up behind you pissed off trying to pass. Occasionally you’d just have to pull over to let some by. And of course, the oil burning fumes. One minute driving in it and you reeked! And then the transmission refusing to hold second gear, and just casually slipping out to neutral when it felt like it. And no parking break – so when you’d come out of school and look for your car, what do you know? Your friends decided to prank you and pushed it around the parking lot to another location.

    Unending fun!

  • avatar

    I once owned a 1968 C101 Commando in the mid-70s. Some of the other guys had CJs and we all went over to Illinois one Sunday and went 4-wheeling near the Mississippi river by the barge canal not far from the old Chain of Rocks bridge in N.STL.

    We all had a blast, and I deliberately buried all four wheel up to the axles in the sand and my vehicle was sitting on the rocker panels! Others got stuck in a nearby creek. A load of fun that day.

    I only kept the Jeep for about 7 months and traded it in on a new Chevy truck, my first new vehicle purchase.

    Good times, then.

  • avatar

    First time I ever drove a Wrangler was on a shore excursion in Mexico while on a cruise. I think it was around 2003…so it was a TJ with a 4-banger and a stick shift, no top. The excursion blurb specifically stated you had to be able to drive a manual to attend…I reckon that’d be a significant barrier these days. Anyways the off-roading wasn’t too strenuous at all, mostly just dirt roads. I still managed to terrify my wife and another woman who tagged along in our Jeep. But the best part was when we stopped at a cave complex, redolent with bats, with a black cave lagoon for swimming in. I dove in but my wife was too scared. One of the guides basically shoved her in, and she panicked and almost drowned before I rescued her. They are (or were) more casual about customer service, safety and liability down Mexico way. At any rate, the experience with the TJ stuck with me (they are just plum fun to drive, for whatever reason) so much so that I bought one for myself finally a few years ago.

  • avatar

    In my personal opinion, and with no personal disrespect intended, this story is not consistent with the historical role of The Truth About Cars. I half expected the end of the story to be accompanied by a disclaimer about a promotional fee.

  • avatar

    1. Selling my TJ

    2. Selling my CJ7

    3. Renting one in aruba and going on offroad trails alone in the middle of nowhere without phone coverage (really was pretty awesome)

    4. Offroading my Jeep Patriot

    My Jeep Patriot was a wonderful car, maybe one of the best I ever owned. great power, features, incredibly comfortable, and very versatile. It was reliable and I never had any trouble. I bought it new and offroaded it and hauled stuff with it constantly. I loved that car for the price.

    Both “Wrangler-Style” (TJ and CJ7) were awful. they looked cool but they were miserably uncomfortable, loud, unreliable. No car has ever broken down more or need more towing than my TJ. I had it towed 3 times in 1 year for different issues. I just don’t understand why anyone likes them because all my friends with them had similar problems. I dumped time and money into that hunk of junk and was overjoyed when I sold it.

    The CJ7 on the other hand I miss, but only because I sold it for $400. I was glad to see it gone at the time because it was a PITA too.

    I’m done with wrangler-style vehicles for life, and the only redeeming jeepism to me was the amazing Patriot that I owned… that I’d get again.

    I always said I’d buy another one once the prices came down, but even the patriots hold it OK. The FDII was like a “different car” than the bases, the bases were awful, but the trail rated FDIIs were very nice. I mudded, offroaded, towed… all the nice memories!

    • 0 avatar


      “Both “Wrangler-Style” (TJ and CJ7) were awful. they looked cool but they were miserably uncomfortable, loud, unreliable. No car has ever broken down more or need more towing than my TJ. I had it towed 3 times in 1 year for different issues.”

      Yes, you just confirmed what “Jeep” really stands for:


      I owned a YJ for almost 2 years, and I got rid of it for that very reason.

      • 0 avatar

        Sometimes I feel like Jeeps are like a Drug. Jeep owners are die hards, convincing themselves that “its a jeep thing”. Then once people get out of the cult, they look bad and say “Thank goodness I’m free- that was awful!”

        Not sure what is so compelling about them… but I’m glad I’m free and it sounds like you are too!

  • avatar

    My ’97 XJ was one of my favorite vehicles I’ve owned. Never took it very far off-road but it did great on rough logging roads in state forests and on the Trans-Labrador Highway when that road was barely more than a dirt track. It was also extremely reliable. I can only remember a busted radiator hose and a blown speaker going wrong with it in seven years. The engine and steering in the Cherokee were pretty agricultural and it was cramped inside but it could do anything I asked of it without fuss. Ultimately it didn’t make much sense to keep a 4WD truck that got mediocre gas mileage when I was mostly just driving it around the suburbs of DC, so I traded it in on a Jetta wagon that was more practical for me but much less durable.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    With Wranglers I only have great memories. I’ve only driven Wranglers on vacation or in college:

    -college buddy had an old Wrangler that we’d pop the top on and cruise for chicks (sometimes it even worked!)
    -drove a rented Wrangler all over Oahu when station there on TDY in the Navy during one summer of college
    -explored all of Aruba on our honeymoon in a Wrangler we rented for the day
    -Drove one of those scripted off-road Jeep tours in Alaska on a family vacation
    -rented a 4dr Wrangler and explored all over Kauai with my wife and daughter last year on vacation

    Those are literally the only times I’ve driven a Wrangler, so yeah, it’s like a vacation for me. I’m always toying with getting a ratty used one to keep at my inlaws’ lake cabin to screw around with in the woods, yes, while on vacation.

  • avatar

    In the 70s I owned 2 CJs. The first one had an AMC 304 v8 that I could
    not get to run without severe pinging. It also had an absorbent pad of
    some description between the bottom of the gas tank and the skid plate.
    So of course, the gas tank developed several pinhole size leaks,
    resulting in the absorbent pad becoming soaked in gasoline and being
    a serious fire/explosion hazard. I fixed that problem and sold the
    beast. The 2nd one was a brand new CJ with a 258ci inline 6 and a
    manual tranny that was actually a decent vehicle. I gave it to my
    GF of the time when I left town. Have never been tempted to own
    another. The Xterra I currently own is superior in every possible
    way, unless you are doing stupid things in Moab, on the Rubicon trail,
    or on some of Colorado’s gnarlier trails.

  • avatar

    When I was young and my Wrangler was young, I spent summers in the national parks and forests working for concessionaires, DOI, NPS or whoever would hire me part-time. Too many good memories to list.

    Plus, I routinely take my Wrangler to the mountains to hike 14-ers and enjoy the outdoors generally. Wranglers are 100% at home on steep unmaintained county roads leading into the wilderness.

    Amazing vehicle. One of a kind.

  • avatar

    Somehow none of my off-road experiences have ever been in Jeeps. So I have no good Jeep memories, because the Jeeps I’ve driven have pretty much been turds on-road (with the exception of the 2018 Grand Cherokee I recently rented, which wasn’t bad).

    Ask me about my best Land Rover memory and you’ll get a bunch of stories involving my ex-stepmother’s very early build, carbureted 1990 Discovery. That thing was an unmitigated POS but there are some decent memories from it.

  • avatar

    Never owned a Jeep, but do have a few memories:
    1. Visiting Honolulu with my girlfriend and her daughter, little girl begged us to rent a Jeep, there’s a lot of them at the rental agencies…at least there were 25 years ago. “No, they’re too expensive!” Get to the rental counter, all they have left is Jeeps. Little girl so happy. These are convertibles, with a top that just covers the front seats. And it starts to rain. Girl in back seat not so happy.

    2. Friend loaned my wife and I his 5-speed Wrangler for a summer’s day on the coast. Great ride for tooling around in the sun.

    3. 3-hour road trip in a buddy’s 15-year-old soft-top Wrangler, in December. This is not a great sub-freezing highway cruiser.

    I’d never want a Wrangler for a DD. For a weekend toy, it’s near the top of my list.

  • avatar

    Definitely watching “Wrangler Death Wobble” videos. Why o why on Google Earth do people buy those things as dedicated road cars?

  • avatar

    My fondest Jeep memory? Does towing one out of a mud hole with my pickup count?

  • avatar

    Oddly, probably the time I ran out of gas in a Rio Grande. I had just enough to get off the interstate, up the ramp, and around the corner before coasting to a stop maybe 100 yards short of the gas station. I had barely had time to size up my situation (the gas station was uphill), when another Wrangler pulled up, the driver got out a tow rope, and he pulled me to the gas pumps. He refused to let me put gas in his Jeep and he drove off.

  • avatar

    Going sideways up Thornton Gap during blinding snowstorm at night in my friend’s CJ-7. We hiked up Mary’s Rock that night in the snow, which was also fun. We saw ball lightning on that trip, which at the time was not confirmed to be a real thing and scared the hell out of us.

  • avatar

    A free Jeep CJ6!

    Went house hunting with my parents one time. While they checked out the empty rooms, I walked the wooded lot next door.

    There in the leafy shade sat the abandoned red beauty. The paint had some scratches and the tan top was sun faded. All of the tires were worn but the underside showed little signs rust and it had good running gear. I just could not pass up on this lucky find.

    Once we got it home and cleaned it up with the hose you could appreciate the classic design. Although it was never my favorite vehicle, No. 53 gave me hours of off roading pleasure.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    My greatest Jeep memory was back in 1995. I had bought a brand new XJ Sport. It was a nightmare of vehicle.

    I left the vehicle at the dealer for one of it’s “routine” warranty jobs and they stated it needed to be left at the yard over the weekend.

    Monday! I had several people come up to me and ask me how I went fishing on the weekend as they saw my Jeep on the beach!

    That is an unforgettable moment.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    My fondest Jeep memory was strangely enough in a rental TJ with a manual transmission. I rented one in Red River and cruised in the vicinity through forests and over somewhat real mountain trails. I remember being disappointed that they didn’t have JKs, but hey, a small business providing a valuable service, can’t complain too much.

  • avatar

    My strongest memory of Jeep is riding in the back seat of a colleagues Wrangler in suburban Melbourne. It was the most uncomfortable ride ever and I could not wait to get out.

  • avatar

    I bought an ’06 TJ new (last year for the TJ), and I’m still making them. This is on the way to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

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