Willys Jeep Wagon looks sharp in Michigan State Police trim …
Everyone likes the old Jeeps, the original Willys models that looked like World War II era army Jeeps, all boxy and plain and ready to take on any rugged terrain that muddied their way.
Now NEO delivers a handsome 1/43 scale navy blue Michigan State Police version of the Willys Jeep Station Wagon. It’s fun and just peculiar enough to be a real conversation starter on any model shelf.
After World War II the Jeep moniker landed with Willys-Overland in Toledo, Ohio. It enlisted Milwaukee industrial designer Brooks Stevens to design a Jeep Station Wagon. This was the first all-steel station wagon made for the mass market and it was a hit, with more than 300,000 being made from 1946 through 1965. When the wagon went into production many other automakers’ station wagon bodies were still made of wood.
Since Willys didn’t have the means to make its own bodies, the Jeep wagon’s bodies were created by steel fabricating companies and attached to the chassis. Many of these same companies were making large metal household appliances when not stamping out Jeep bodies. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s Willys Jeep Station Wagon→
Automodello creates stylish 1/24th Kaiser Darrin …
There was a fine line between sports cars and two-seat boulevard cruisers as the 1950’s midpoint approached. The British were exporting tiny, nimble, two-seat sports cars in growing numbers to the United States.
This was the heyday of MG, Austin-Healey, and Triumph. Chevrolet, Ford and upstart Kaiser Motors were about to respond, with their Corvette, Thunderbird and Darrin, none exactly sports cars.
Kaiser’s Darrin was by far the most stylish, but was basically a one-year wonder. The others had staying power. Now Automodello has created its own 1/24 scale resin model of the daring Darrin that once was described as looking like it was trying to kiss someone with its puckered oval nose grille.
Howard “Dutch” Darrin had a long car styling resume, most recently with Packard, before Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer brought him onboard their new Kaiser-Frazer Corp. after World War II. Darrin went on to design a sports car on his own time and with his own funds, then presented it to Kaiser, looking for the company to produce the roadster. Continue reading Die-cast: Automodello’s 1954 Kaiser Darrin→
It happened one winter when we were in Downtown Milwaukee at an event. Parking is not easy there especially if you add in a recent snowfall. We were driving an ’87 Jeep Wagoneer (XJ) that I had bought from my dad similar to this one. We snuggle into a spot on the street and go have fun. When we came back we saw another car had parked us in. The car was actually not in a spot and at the end of the block near the intersection. My wife tried first with no luck. It was my turn. I put our Jeep in 4wd and pushed the car out ahead of us and it just happened to roll into the intersection. Ooops.
Jeep people don’t mess a round
In a parking lot you wait your turn to move into a spot where a car is leaving. But then every once in a while some jerk decides they’re going to take that spot. We’ve all had that happen. Not sure any of you came to this creative solution.
A lot of folks are calling the Renegade the Baby Jeep, and there’s some truth to that because it’s the smallest Jeep and solidly puts the brand into the growing small crossover/sport-ute segment.
Renegade rides on a short 101.2-inch wheelbase and shares a platform with parent company Fiat’s 500X, its new all-wheel-drive version of the tiny 500. This Jeep is made in Melfi, Italy, along with Fiats.
But make no mistake, you still get the full square-on Jeep look with flat bars in the grille and an ability to go off road. So it’s as Jeepy as other Jeeps and even offers a Trailhawk model that upgrades its off-roading capabilities. For instance, the tested Limited 4×4 has 7.9 inches of ground clearance whereas the Trailhawk has 8.7 inches of clearance.
Yet mostly this is a small Jeep for folks who like the look, but prefer decent gas mileage, a lower price tag and the utility of a small sport-utility or crossover. There’s some step-up when crawling in, but this isn’t a major stretch as in some utes. This is more car than truck.
Like the Fiat 500, the Renegade offers a variety of engine choices and transmissions and in essence fills the price gap from $20 grand to $30 grand. The silver test Renegade pushed the upper limits at $31,120 due to the addition of optional equipment.
You’ll probably substitute your own word for “unusual”, but there will be no argument that it looks like no other car on the road, but then neither did the Nissan Cube, which has been discontinued, or the late Pontiac Aztek.
For lack of a better descriptor, I’d say the Juke has bug eyes, or possibly a frog-faced nose. Some call it youthful, some funky. But it’s no Kia Soul, which exudes cute and trendy.
Plus the unique Juke has been around now for several years, so it’s not a newcomer to the market. It does offer all-wheel-drive, which is a plus in its favor, plus decent gas mileage and in the tested SL AWD model, heated front seats. That was especially nice on several sub-zero days during my drive.
Its other major plus, other than being a hatchback, is its lithe nature and easy sporty handling. It’s fun to drive with mild steering effort and responsive handling with little lean in turns. In that way, it feels much like a Jeep.
Sadly it feels Jeep-like in ride, which is to say choppy over Wisconsin’s rough roads. The front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension, both with stabilizer bars, shocks and springs, delivered a bumpier small sport-utility truck type ride than many folks may enjoy and I found myself trying to dodge any road imperfection to ease the jostle. Blame much of that on Juke’s short, 99.6-inch wheelbase. Continue reading 2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD→
That four letter word that starts with an “S” came early.
I can’t even mention the word and I live in Wisconsin. How about those folks in Buffalo who have been buried with feet of snow? I drive a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited so this video caught my eye. South Bend, IN. always get lots of snow because of Lake Michigan. Take for example this morning. Even the trucks got stuck and in this case a Jeep was there to help out. Go Jeep!!!
There, now I feel better, it’s out there. I’ve gone road hunting in CJ’s that still hurt my back, but it was still fun! I have owned a 1986 four-door Wagoneer (XJ), then a 1996 Grand Cherokee (ZJ), a Liberty (KJ). Designed by Diamler at the time and not my favorite because it was way to top-heavy as you can see here after an Illinois driver on his cell phone clipped me. I walked away.
It’s the only vehicle I have exited through the sun roof. We currently area about to purchase our 2011 Wrangler Unlimited (JK) off our lease and I can’t wait to start making it more our Jeep. First thing I’m going to do is put a cold air intake to give it some zip. I have been to Camp Jeeps at both the Chicago and Milwaukee auto shows. Milwaukee was the better ride. Check out the videos from my rides. Yup, all in.
It was when American Motors, where my dad worked, bought Kaiser’s money-losing Jeep operations in 1970 that I started to dig into the history of the Jeep brand. AMC was hurting at the time and this was a big gamble for them but the Jeep utility vehicles complemented AMC’s passenger car business. Actually it saved the company. AMC was able to share components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep’s international and government markets.
It created the Sport Utility market
The four-door Jeep Wagoneer (SJ) set the pace as it was the first luxury 4×4 sold and produced from 1963 to 1991, nearly 30 years before the term SUV was in vogue. Compared to what GM, International Harvester, and Land Rover were offering at the time, it was the Wagoneer’s luxury that set the bar. Adding to success of the Wagoneer, and it’s two-door version Cherokee AMC introduced in 1973 was the Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system which attracted even more people to Jeep products who wanted four-wheel-drive traction without the inconvenience of a manual-shift transfer case and manual locking hubs.
The Wagoneer Limited you see in these images which later morphed into the Grand Wagoneer, had the whole deal, deep pile carpeting, advanced overhead cam inline six and then later a monster AMC 401 V8 engine, auto transmission, power windows, a/c, power steering, power brakes, an independent front suspension and yes, real wood outlining the fake vinyl wood as you can see in this example which I think is a 1981. It’s a little on the rough side but there are lots of places that specialize in full restorations like GrandWagoneer.com. The vehicle still has a following even though the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off Chrysler’s Toledo assembly plant on June 21, 1991. Now that Fiat owns Jeep there were images floating around showing a modern version of the Grand Wagoneer which I have heard won’t come on the market for another couple of years.
I would love to have a Grand Wagoneer to show off to the people I know who drive Cadillac Escalades or Range Rovers. Sure buddy, one on one! I made a trip to one of my favorite sites, Hemmings, and found Grand Wagoneers from the mid-20’s to all the way up to 50 grand like this one. Have you looked at the current prices of the Caddy or Rover?
So what if you don’t have the cash?
Surprisingly with such a long run, you’d thing there would have been a promo model made but it never happened, however this Grand Wagoneer produced by AutoArt is a great alternative. I picked up this 1/18th scale diecast about five years ago for around $100. Even though AutoArt has stopped producing them, they pop up on eBay except for the white one which is nearly impossible to find. Check out the details on this. All the doors open, along with the hood and rear lift gate. The interior has real carpeting and upholstery. Check out the engine bay. I love looking at this. I keep hoping that someday there will be a way to take it and scale it up into the real deal.
New Cherokee brings modern look, but same off-road capability
Some folks had their doubts about Chrysler and Jeep when Italian carmaker Fiat assumed control of them a few years back. Now Fiat owns them outright and the new product parade can’t have been more impressive.
Latest on the list is the new Jeep Cherokee. It’s an old name, but that’s all that’s old here. Thankfully the looks are all new with thin lights front and rear and a modern interpretation of Jeep’s 7 portal grille. Jeep loyalists that think all Jeeps should still look like World War II Willys will just have to get over it. Besides, the Jeep Luddites still have the Wrangler to take rock crushing.
Yet because most folks Don’t drive their SUVs over cliffs and through mud bogs, the new Cherokee is a welcome replacement for the top-heavy, gas-sucking Liberty. Cherokee is refined in looks and execution. It’s a fine on-road vehicle that oh, by the way, still could be taken off road and slopped around a bit.
First let’s look at the new mechanicals that help make this Jeep, which is based on the Dodge Dart platform, such a step up from Liberty.
Atop the efficiency list is the combination of its 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I4 engine that creates 184 horsepower, and the segment’s first 9-speed automatic transmission. That’s right, 9 speeds. Most vehicles now use a 6-speed automatic, but Fiat puts a ZF-developed 9-speed into Cherokee. The upshot is not only decent power, but smooth fuel-efficient application of that to the road. The only hiccup I experienced was occasionally on a cold start when the car would hesitate in first and second gear and bog just a bit. All was fine once the SUV warmed.