You’ve likely heard of a CJ-5 or CJ-7 (CJ standing for Civilian Jeep), one of American Motors Corporation (AMC) more common builds up to 1986. But it wasn’t until 1987, under the Chrysler regime led by Lee Iacocca, that the Wrangler name surfaced and has been one of the most popular models in Jeep history.
These primarily short wheel based mountain masters give you a lot of versatility. Wranglers capture the outdoor life with 4×4 capabilities, providing the ability to cruise with top on or convertible style, and a turning radius that can whip you in and out of tight spots at the grocery. Just a few of the highlights of this fun and well-loved auto!
As a Wrangler/CJ Jeep owner, I feel the need to explain a phenomenon that has become a national “must do” if you are driving and passing by another Wrangler. Known as the “Jeep Wave,” you’ll encounter this special greeting more often than not when the opportunity presents itself. This isn’t a wave you would send someone off with – this is your hand positioned at 12 o’clock on your steering wheel, with your thumb and next two fingers extended just long enough to acknowledge the motorist. You’ll find as you try this, the “Jeep Wave” is typically reciprocated right back to you in the same quick fashion.
I can’t tell you how much this magnifies the fun of driving these already fun-to-drive cars! Even better, when passengers are with you, they will always ask “why is everyone waving?” Well actually they’re Jeep Waving! “Its a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand” right? If you have three minutes, this clip will explain it all (and put a smile on your face)…
Here’s a little trivia about the Jeep you can use to impress car enthusiast friends! Did you know Ford designed the iconic Jeep grille? Ford originally designed it having nine slots. To avoid conflict with Ford’s design, Jeep shortened the grille to seven slots. Why seven? To signify Jeep being the first motor vehicle driven on all seven continents (purportedly).
And if you find a 1996 Wrangler, buy it! Jeep did not make Wranglers in 1996 so you would likely have a true “one of a kind!”
Jason Paynter is a classic car appraiser, collector and unabashed enthusiast. He is also author of the new book, Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars, available at Amazon! He lives in Louisville, KY with his beautiful wife and three sons who are (heaven help him) almost all of driving age.