The concept of “jeeps” has been around for a
while, and the Jeep Wrangler is one of the latest versions. Our
Down-Under correspondent John Weinthal spent some time with one and
describes it as a Tonka Toy for big kids. Here are the Words from
this week we will drop all serious judging criteria. The vehicle is
the Jeep Wrangler - the latest interpretation of the four-wheel-drive
which started the whole game way back in the Second World War. By now
it serves no real purpose beyond amusing some semi-crazies who do not
care who thinks of them in that light. Approach the Wrangler with all
this in mind and I defy you to have anything but fun. Purposeful,
practical motoring is not on the Jeep menu.
“This thing is as basic as a car can be, a
veritable Tonka Toy for big kids. It has four wheels with large
balloon tyres, an unstressed 130 kW, 4 litre six cylinder engine and a
five speed manual gearbox in which fifth gear is very, very rarely
windows? This baby’s windows are zippered in and sealed with Velcro.
Remote locking? Forget it, there’s not even central locking. You use
the key for the doors and the tailgate as well as the fuel filler,
glovebox and console bin. Carpets - no thanks. A steel floor with
rubber mats is so much easier to hose clean after a day’s fun in
beach sand or muddy paddock.
“Needless to say there’s no wiper for the
easily scratched plastic rear window, and while the front wipers
probably meet legal requirements, they are noisy as they scrape their
single-speed way across the flat, fold-down windscreen.
course the Jeep is a very competent and rugged off-roader. It is also
a four seater with quite good room for a couple in the rear. Hood up
it can feel a little claustrophobic and luggage space is sparse to put
it mildly, even with the rear seat folded forward. Practicality was
not a priority. There are tiny door bins and a small glove box and
“The soft-top is extraordinarily difficult and
time-consuming both to remove and to replace. To stay dry it might be
best to listen to the forecast a few hours ahead and call some skilled
and muscular friend to raise the roof and sidescreens should rain be
headed your way. It is no wonder one seems only to see Wranglers
topless on fine days. There are hardtops available but surely they
defeat the entire point of this fun machine.
“It is truly difficult to imagine anyone choosing
a Wrangler as their everyday car. But Wrangler rides surprisingly well
and the front seats are extremely comfortable. The centre armrest and
cutaway doors transform them into virtual armchairs and the steering
wheel adjusts in the vertical plane ensuring a fine driving position.
“Wrangler has adequate performance on-road and
there’s heaps of torquey urge when the off-roading gets truly
serious. The air-conditioning will rarely be used I suspect but the
powerful heater could be handy on crisp evenings. The stereo is easy
to use and can be played loud without too much distortion.
“For those who want to experience an original the
AUD 36,000 Wrangler takes up the challenge. Auto adds AUD 2000. It is
an option many would enjoy as the five-speed manual is nothing special
and fifth is a joke until you are on the highway, preferably pointed
downhill. (In Thailand it comes with just the three speed auto and
costs around 1.6 million baht - Dr. Iain)
“Impractical, expensive and frequently a right
pain to live with, Jeep’s Wrangler can also be huge fun for any
extrovert pair or quartet in their more carefree moments. Driven
single-handed you can choose to enjoy or ignore the bemused looks from
bystanders, but it’s an experience best shared with friends - a
right jollymobile, specially in the day-glow yellow of the review
(Thank you John. The last time I drove a Wrangler,
the ‘fun’ aspect was what stayed most in the memory too. Dr.
Last week I asked you to take a look at this photo.
What was the make of this car, and what movie was this still from? The
correct answer was a tricked up Ford Falcon (that’s a dummy
supercharger on top) and the movie was Mad Max, and that’s a very
young looking Mel Gibson sitting on the mudguard.
to this week. Let’s get right away from movies (but congratulations
to Dusit Dave Garred who got the Mad Max question correct and first
in, and who admits he knows nothing about cars, but has wasted several
lifetimes in the back row of movie houses in Sydney) and this is for
our American cousins who often complain they’ve been left out. What
was the first American car to win an international sports car race?
Clue - it was 2,000 km long.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email automan[email protected]