Classics and cardboard
If you ask a kid “What do you want?” you are bound to hear some pretty crazy, out-of-this-world answers. But when it came to Nicolai, he knew what he wanted.
Toward the end of the school year in 2015, he was given the task to make a vehicle of some sort for the Mt. Loafer Elementary School “Kindy Car” event. This is the ultimate highlight for the kids at the end of the year. Now, Nicolai is 6 years old and was still in kindergarten. So what kind of car does a kindergartener want? I asked about all the obvious choices: Batmobile? No. A police car? No. A racecar? No. So finally out came the question “What do you want”? And of course he answered me with zero hesitation: A 1940’s Willy’s Jeep. This beautiful American icon and hero of countless friendly and unfriendly encounters - this is what the 6-year-old wanted. So the epic task began.
In order to do it justice and really embody the spirit that we all love about this classic, I was going to need the right box. One that was a good proportion not only for the concept, but for Nicolai as well. That was much harder than we thought. Once the box had been located, Nicolai did the research. Through the Internet and various shows on the Military channel, he found what he wanted, identified the details and noted the color scheme. I remembered what his teacher had said about this activity: “Let the kids do it themselves or the parents will get too carried away and it takes all the fun out of it.” I resolved to let him do everything other than cutting and hot gluing his Jeep together. It was over the course of one month that we would work on this little by little after school. Four cans of spray paint, a few missed hours of sleep, 10plus hot glue sticks, two bottles of white craft paint, some good music, a few trips to the hobby store, lots of contact paper and a couple of fruit snack breaks in between. He built this car from spraying the paint to the wheel design, the decal placement and the overall look. Yes, he knew what he wanted much sooner than I did.
As we were enjoying the Elk Ridge Classic Car Show on June 27, Nicolai got to see a real 1945 Willy’s Jeep. With all the strength he had to contain himself after a serious shaved ice sugar rush, he managed to tell me that he wanted a picture of his Jeep with the real one. We were able to go home, pick up his car and park it right next to its more authentic counterpart. History in the making. For him, at least.
In the end, Nicolai wanted something to be proud of. Something that would endure and last. And what other choice fits that description better than a Willy’s Jeep?