Category Archives: Jeep

What should Santa drive?

Santa's 'stang

Santa’s ‘stang

As Boxing Day approaches we were taken with a pristine ’65 Mustang convertible in red with a white top. It struck us as the perfect vehicle for Santa Claus if he were to ever cut that flying sleigh and reindeer loose.  It’s festive, fun and sports the right color combination for the jolly one.

Santa's macho rig

Santa’s macho rig

Then, again, it doesn’t have a huge trunk so the question of where the stash the presents looms.  Perhaps this huge ’63 Dodge Power Wagon would be the right answer to St. Nick’s theoretical quest.  It’s red and white so the color combo fills the bill and the pick up bed would accommodate lots of loot.  It’s a lifted four wheel drive truck which means snow drifts could be successfully challenged.  The fact that it’s a crew cab means he could bring along some staff to help with the schlepping.

Wagoneering at the pole

Wagoneering at the pole

If he were to seek a bit more civilized conveyance he could try this terrific Jeep Wagoneer that dates from the days when Jeep was a product of American Motors.  The same basic truck, produced successively by Willys, Kaiser, American Motors and Chrysler, was introduced in 1962 and continued in production through the 1991 model year.  It certainly has more creature comforts that the Dodge Power Wagon but not quite the payload.  Unlike the Mustang, he wouldn’t be able to take the top down which leads us to this early ’70s International Harvester Scout finished in spruce green .  It’s got four wheel drive and the top comes off and the exterior color offers a nice contrast to Santa’s outfit.

Green machine

Green machine

But what of the little guys?  Yes, the elves need appropriate wheels and we’ve come up with a few suggestions for them.

Elves' pet Met

Elves’ pet Met

What about this Nash Metropolitan convertible we found at a light the other day?  The color combo is right up Santa’s alley and the continental kit means the miniscule trunk has that much more space.

Sprite-o!

Just buggin’

Or what about this Austin-Healey Sprite, a “bug eye” that dates from the late ’50s. It certainly gives the Metropolitan (with which it share the same motor, by the way) a run for the money in the cute department.  It would seem to compliment Santa’s Mustang very nicely.

Mini for the help

Mini for the help

Lastly, for the little folks, we suggest this very original Austin Cooper, the Mini that started it all.  The sliding windows saved British Motors, its manufacturer, money on the mechanics of roll down windows and created a tiny bit more space for stuffing presents in the door shelves.  BMC actually built the Metropolitan for American Motors as well as the Sprite and the Mini.  It’s a wonder they couldn’t stay in business.

Next year if you don’t hear the sound of hooves on your roof but, rather, a Mustang, Power Wagon, Wagoneer, Scout, Metropolitan, Sprite or Mini you’ll know why.

The Bug Eye Guy has lots of Sprites for sale and, yes, they all have human names.  With a face like that it’s only to be expected.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Gift rack optional

Gift rack optional

 

 

Jeep transcends its parentage

Chrome dome

Chrome dome

When the Jeep Wagoneer was introduced in 1963 the words “luxury” and “SUV” had not yet been commonly juxtaposed.  In fact, nobody called vehicles with off road capabilities SUVs.  They were, for the most part, just called “Jeeps.” Seven years after Wagoneer’s debut Land Rover introduced its Range Rover and it was just a matter of a few decades before everybody — Porsche, Cadillac, Mercedes, etc. — got into the act.  SUVs wearing Bentley, Maserati and even Rolls Royce badges are in the offing but let’s revisit “ground zero.”   Here’s a super clean Wagoneer Limited that’s one of the very last produced. That parking ticket doesn’t sully its thoroughbred look but rather imparts a sense of horsey hauteur.  That’s a tiny red, white and blue American Motors corporate logo on the grill.

Top of the line

Top of the rectilinear line

www.wagoneerworld.com

The Wagoneer, styled by industrial designer Brooks Stevens, was launched when Jeep was part of Kaiser Industries.  Jeep, in fact, was the only surviving automotive division of Kaiser, the company which had the foresight to have gobbled up Willys, the company that had introduced the civilian Jeep (CJ) almost directly after VJ Day.  The Wagoneer was meant to replace Willys’ Jeep Station Wagon (catchy model name, eh?) which soldiered on for another two years. Wagoneer continued in production until 1991 though the brand and its assets changed hands many more times.  AMC bought out Kaiser, Renault bought AMC, Chrysler bought Jeep and, thereafter, Daimler (Mercedes Benz) acquired Chrysler. Daimler unloaded Chrysler which then went bankrupt and has  now reemerged as a unit of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).  This means that the vehicular icon of America’s efforts in World War II was, at one time or another, under French, German and Italian control, though FCA is, technically, based in the Netherlands.  Go figure.

It's got a case of the Willys

It’s got a case of the Willys

The Jeep Station Wagon, seen here in a shot contributed by Feral Cars Field Scout Andrew Keeler, was the first all-steel station wagon though the the car had vestigial hints of timber in its embossed body panels, much in the style of Tudor tract houses.

Wood is good

Wood is good

This AMC-era Briarwood was a variant of the Jeep Cherokee which had actually been designed and initially produced under Renault’s aegis, continuing through the Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler reigns.  The Wagoneer was its “big brother” until replaced by the Grand Cherokee in 1992.

Live/work

Live/work

Wagoneer shared much with a two door variation, confusingly named Cherokee but unrelated to the later one, and was the donor vehicle for the Gladiator pick-up, the production of which continued for 26 years. We found a very early one bearing a camper on its bed one foggy day. Looks like somebody’s into “roughing it” on wheels.

Identity crisis Jeepster

Identity crisis Jeepster

We also encountered two latter day Jeep products and this seems as good an opportunity as any to share.  That contraption, in ‘Renegade Plum’ paint and wearing a most un-Jeep like nose, is a ’72 Jeepster Commando.  These were introduced back in ’66 to compete with the likes of International’s Scout and Ford’s (pre-OJ) Bronco.

Going Commando

Going Commando

We much prefer the look of this earlier Jeepster Commando which is more true to its military heritage. This black beauty, vintage ’68, is a contractor’s everyday work truck: not much luxury but lots of utility.  Its steering wheel center (below) gives some indication of a labor intensive life.

Dirt at work

Dirt at work

We close with a shot of a much less pampered Wagoneer than our opener.  It’s only a few years older but far less pristine. It still has a lots of rugged presence, accentuated by a standup hood ornament we find silly but marketers apparently felt it denoted luxury, as if the fake wood siding weren’t enough.

Grand illusion

Paint your Wagoneer

Upright citizien

Upright citizen

One last look at that quite perfect  and very snazzy Wagoneer Limited. Note: AMC/Jeep badge on the left.

Back atcha

Back atcha

As you would expect, there are experts out there who cater to those who fetishize these brilliantly enduring machines.  The top dog in the field is Kerrville, Texas-based Leon Miller a/k/a “The Wagonmaster.” He buys, restores and sells Wagoneers and has lots of virtually perfect ones on offer if you have the itch.  Check out www.wagonmaster.com to view the current inventory, priced between $45,000 – $58,000.  Certainly not cheap but, as noted, they don’t make them anymore.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  Leon has some competition some 300 miles away in Richardson, TX, the home of www.wagoneerworld.com.

If time travel is your thing, go back to 1966 and watch this Wagoneer TV spot filmed “down the shore” in Avalon, NJ.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMC: hey, they tried

The X stands for xtinct

The X stands for Xtinct

American Motors was formed in 1954 when Nash merged with Hudson.  The two domestic indies saw the handwriting on the wall as the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) became increasingly dominant.  Studebaker, likewise, threw its lot in with Packard.  Things didn’t work out so well in the latter case but the Hudson and Nash merger resulted in a relatively strong contender whose compact Rambler challenged the Big Three — especially in the early ’60s, when Rambler was the #3 best selling U.S. nameplate, exceeded only by Chevrolet and Ford.

The Sawzall approach to sports car design

The Sawzall approach to sports car design

AMC walked away from the Rambler brand in 1970, but the move to badge their passenger cars as AMC was already underway by then.  They fielded Javelin, a Mustang/Camaro “pony car” competitor in ’68 as well as AMX, a smaller 2-seater that was in some way a Corvette alternative. The one you see here was discovered by Feral Cars Field Scout Lynda Keeler.  We’re not crazy about the fact that the bumpers have been painted body color, but otherwise it’s mostly untouched.  This one is powered by a 390 cubic inch V8. Potent stuff.

American Audi /  Dairlyand Subaru

American Audi / Dairlyand Subaru

As the years dragged on, AMC found itself in a somewhat desperate situation with not enough capital to develop new products to compete with the Big Three, let alone the onslaught of Japanese and European imports.  AMC acquired Jeep from Kaiser, which had earlier inherited it from Willys.  Jeep was a valued asset, and was one of the compelling reasons why France’s Renault bought into AMC in the late ’70s, and ultimately owned a controlling interest.  One of the unique products produced under the French regime was the Eagle, more or less a “lifted” AMC Hornet equipped with four-wheel drive borrowed from the Jeep division.  It wasn’t a massive sales success but development costs were minimal so it actually generated a profit.  The other day we found this ’82 wagon — they were offered as sedans and coupes, too — and its chatty driver informed us that she was only the second owner and seemed to be quite proud of having beaten the hell out of it over the course of the past 25 years.

AMC: re-purposing leader

AMC: re-purposing leader

Eagle was, in fact, the last car to carry the AMC brand during the time Renault built its ill-fated Alliance at AMC’s Kenosha, WI factory.  There’s an analogy to be made here to those Japanese soldiers on remote islands who didn’t surrender until the war had been over for decades.

Not just some

Count ’em: all 4!

Bowed but unbroken

Bowed but unbroken

Feral Cars Field Scout Andrew Keeler (it’s a family thing) encountered another Eagle wagon. This one is painted a sandy hue that AMC called Jamaica Beige.  We think it looks like it could have been a great staff car during the Desert Storm “war to begin all wars” but was out of production by the time of that conflict.

Desert camo?

Desert camo?

AMC was far ahead of the curve with the Eagle concept.  Four-wheel drive vehicles had usually been truck-based or passenger cars modified by aftermarket outfits. Here, then, was a factory built four wheeler that wasn’t “trucky.”  Like Subaru and Audi,  Eagle was in the vanguard of the idea that a four-wheel drive car might have some appeal, especially to those who drive in snow belt states.

Audi A3, anybody?

Audi A3, anybody?

After the demise of the Rambler American, Hornet became AMC’s bread-and-butter car. This chalky ’74 was one of the company’s standard bearers, along with the lamented Gremlin and Pacer during the dark days of the OPEC embargo. We kind of dig its formal look, especially the thick “sail panel” aft of the rear doors.

Profile in courage

Profile in courage

Just for the heck of it, we offer some AMC predecessors here. This ’54 Nash, built the year the Hudson merger was consummated, was styled by the legendary Pinin Farina and wears a saucy continental kit that adds even more bulk to its already generously proportioned body.

Freshman classy

Freshman classy

We like the mossy patina on this ’51 Nash Ambassador, the voluptuousness of which is truly breathtaking.

Tub 'o' Nash

Tub ‘o’ Nash

It wouldn’t be an AMC story without reference to the Metropolitan.  It was built in England by Austin and  marketed as either the Nash Metropolitan or Hudson Metropolitan beginning in 1954.  After those brands ceased to exist in 1957 it became a free-standing marque sold by Rambler dealers.  Yeah, we think it’s pretty cute, too.

Smarter car

Smarter car

These colors don't run

These colors don’t run

Check out this introductory Eagle commercial.  It has us convinced that four is better than two. Hey is that driver a young Jeff Daniels? Sure looks like he could be.  Like that hot AMX?  You can buy one now but get to it quickly.  Collectors have discovered them and prices are on the way up,  which leads us to conclude that AMC is still about value.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Scout it out loud

Scoutman

Scout’s owner: this man is actually smiling.

We found a first generation International Harvester Scout and its happy owner on Sunset Boulevard in the swanky/funky Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that lies east of Hollywood.  He was disappointed that his ’62 Scout had chosen this location to dislodge the linkage that connects the accelerator to the throttle and, for the first time in memory, we had no bailing wire to offer to remedy the situation.  Nonetheless, this Scout’s owner was confident he’d get it going in short order as a wire coat hanger from a nearby dry cleaner was sourced.

Wow! You coulda had a half a V8!

Wow! You coulda had a half a V8!

Truck maker International introduced this rival to Jeep’s eternal CJ  in 1961, the very embodiment of simplicity in terms of “styling” and technology  The motor was a 304 cubic inch International V8 that had been, essentially, sawed in half.  The resulting 4 cylinder motor was slanted (half a “V”) and displaced 152 cubic inches (152+152 = 304).   All Scouts were built in Fort Wayne, Indiana just in case you wondered.

Far from shiftless

Pro-choice

The interior is as spartan as possible but the real attraction of these, as opposed to today’s opulent SUVs, is actual utility.  See those four shift levers sprouting from the floor?  That gives you some indication of what International had in mind: the one with the wooden knob offers 1st, 2nd, 3rd and reverse, another is overdrive and the other two sticks control front axle engagement and hi/lo range.  It’s no wonder that very few of these survive — they were used for rock climbing and tend to shake themselves apart from that kind of mountain goat-style treatment.

A near perfect topless example, built some years later, should convince you that these have the potential to be stunning vehicles, albeit a bit angular in affect.

Spiffy Sout

Spiffy Scout

Here’s a second generation Scout out on the town.  We like its straightforward elegance and command of the night.

Honorable Scout

Honorable Scout

International Harvester built its last Scout in 1980 but we’ve found more than a few haunting the streets and roads of urban and rural America.  And here’s  one getting a ride with some contemporary vehicles we probably won’t be discussing 52 years from now.

Top shelf Scout

Top shelf Scout

There are still some of these to be had though the price is entirely dependent on condition.  Here’s one on Ebay you may wish to consider if you have some cash to spare.

Urging you to click on this commercial for a ’68 Scout if you like Beagle puppies. You do like Beagle puppies, don’t you?

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRIVEN to remind

Slide show ride

Slide show ride

Ever so brief reminder here, should you find your way to Palm Springs this Wednesday evening, February 19. Drive over to DRIVEN, an art installation sponsored by Feralcars.com, featuring the noir car art of Eric Nash plus curated car show by Matthew Reader. The evening’s host is Billy F Gibbons.   The fun starts at 5 and we’ll be running a big, boss FeralCars slide show that includes this ’64 Buick Riviera booty shot and lots of other scrumptious car flesh visuals.

Cadillac by Nash, yes it really is

Cadillac by Nash

Host d with ehydrated band members + The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze dried band members a.k.a "Flavor KryZZtals"

The Reverend Willy G + Wiilys + freeze-dried band members a.k.a “Flavor KryZZtals”

The Archdeacon Gallery is located at 865 North Palm Canyon Drive, deep in the heart of Palm Springs’ très chic Uptown Arts District.   Stop by to ogle, mingle and enjoy a cocktail courtesy of the good folks at Pura Vida

Speaking of "Dat Gibbons boy!"

Speaking of “dat Gibbons boy”

Product placement pro

Product placement pro

 

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.