OLD 4X4

Four Wheeler - - Inbox -

I thought I’d share my story. I’m 31 years old. I drive a ’15 Volk­swa­gen Golf Sport­wa­gen. Nice lit­tle turbo with a stick. Back in col­lege, I drove a ’96 Cherokee, white, Coun­try edi­tion, with the gray tweed seats and fake wood in­te­rior ac­cents. Bought it from a me­chanic for $4,000 af­ter my ’88 Camry’s head gas­ket blew. Loved that Jeep. Drove it all over. It was with me for five sum­mers while I was work­ing as a cook and a life­guard on Martha’s Vine­yard. Most of the time the tires were left at 14 psi so I could throw it in 4-Lo and turn onto the beach. Lots of great mem­o­ries. Lots of mem­o­ries work­ing on it too. Be­ing of sim­ple means, I had to fig­ure out how to fix it my­self most of the time. Re­ally easy car to learn to work on. Big en­gine bay, cheap parts, and no lift nec­es­sary for oil changes. I ended up sell­ing it to a friend af­ter the ra­di­a­tor ba­si­cally blew up. I still wish I had bucked up and re­placed it.

Fast-for­ward al­most a decade and I am two weeks into own­er­ship of an­other Jeep. This time, it’s a sec­ond car, a week­end wagon. It’s a ’99 Wran­gler TJ with a five-speed and 110,000 miles. Same 4.0L en­gine and same leaky ra­di­a­tor. I bought it off a young kid I work with for $500. Im­me­di­ately dropped $2,000 on it to have a me­chanic fix the in­take and ex­haust man­i­folds, ra­di­a­tor, leaky tire, and so on. Plus ad­di­tional spend for jobs that I’m do­ing my­self: flu­ids, ser­pen­tine belt, plugs, hoses, and so on. Every­thing that goes in there is Mopar or bet­ter. I am re­ally pol­ish­ing this old turd back to glory. It’s pretty ex­cit­ing. Work­ing on it and driv­ing it takes me out of the cu­bi­cle and puts me back on the beach, so to speak. The Jeep had been ne­glected, so ev­ery time I change some­thing out, there is a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment to the way it runs and drives. With a new trans­fer case and diff fluid it rolls like a hot knife on but­ter. New plugs and it’s purring like a tiger. I can al­most hear it thank­ing me im­plic­itly af­ter each job is com­pleted.

I’m go­ing to take a breather on spend for now and sim­ply en­joy it. I’ve been driv­ing it to work daily. Leav­ing the shiny, smooth-shift­ing Ger­man gen­tle­man at home. I plan to take it out to the far cor­ners of the beaches of the Cape and is­lands, do a lit­tle fish­ing and surf­ing with friends. Might end up keep­ing it through the sum­mer and sell it for a small profit.

Any­way, I share your ex­cite­ment about hav­ing an old 4x4 to mess around with! I say keep scratch­ing that itch!

THOMAS JENK­INS VIA EMAIL

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