I own a 1948 Jeep – well, technically, I own two. One should, sometime in the future, be back on the road; the other is the carcass that will render parts to make the first CJ2A Jeep roadworthy.
A nation separated them. One was a Florida bog-runner, shoved in a barn and forgotten for years. The other worked for years as a parade entry for a VFW hall in Wisconsin. I retrieved the Florida Jeep on a UHaul flatbed – a great road trip for myself and older son. A taciturn guy with a big mustache delivered the other from Wisconsin to my door. “Long drive,” he said.
I credit my younger son for the Jeep – er, Jeeps. We were returning from a baseball game a couple of years ago when he spied a restored CJ2A outside a hardware store. “Wouldn’t it be cool to get one to restore?” he asked. I nearly ran off the road.
When I was his age, about 14 or so, I craved an old Jeep. Ever since my friend up the road had showed me his daddy’s old flat-fendered machine, I had wanted one. It was more go-cart than car – a tiny thing with a short wheelbase, a C-cab perched like a half-built outhouse over two bucket seats. It rattled. It rumbled. It caught my heart. I begged dad to buy one we could take apart in the barn. The old man was too cheap. I realized that getting a Jeep, like signing a Major League contract, wasn’t in the works.
And then, long decades later, my baby boy repeated what his dad had said all those years ago.
The chassis to the driver Jeep is now in my garage. The body — it’s called a “tub” — is sitting on two sawhorses in the back yard beyond the garage where my wife cannot see it. The engine was yanked, put back. It has new shocks. We have to rebuild the brakes. I want to switch the electrical system from 6 volts to 12. I am daunted by all that needs to be done. Some days, I want to advertise the old metal and cut my losses: Two Jeeps, cheap.
Then I think of my boy, and the boy my father refused.