Jeep is rough and ready

From the time Scott Stephens was a teenager, he had been drawn in by the rough-and-ready-to-go-anywhere Jeeps. The familiar seven-vertical slots of the Jeep grille captivated him.

Stephens’ first Jeep was a worn-out used vehicle, however, he kept it running for a couple of years. But as the years rolled by, the time had come to buy a brand-new Jeep. Passing by a local Jeep dealer’s lot he saw what he wanted: a basic model Wrangler wearing a coat of Radiant Fire paint.

The red Jeep was equipped with a single extra-cost option – a $200 back seat. The odometer showed the Jeep had been driven only 10 miles. Stephens bought the Jeep on July 10, 1991.

Stephens was pleased that under the hood of his new Jeep was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. While he thought the engine would be more economical to operate than a six-cylinder engine, he now says that assumption was false. The fuel tank has a 15-gallon capacity and the crankcase holds 4 quarts of oil.

Off-roading was never high on his list of reasons for getting the Jeep, but Stephens did install some protective metal gravel guards over the rectangular headlights and parking lights. At the other end of the 12-foot, 6-inch-long Jeep, mounted between the twin taillights, is the never-used spare tire that came with the Jeep. The 2,936-pound Jeep rides on a 93.4-inch wheelbase and is only 68 inches wide, all of which makes for an exceptionally nimble vehicle.

The doors have plastic windows but Stephens soon tired of removing the doors for the summer months only to place them back of the Wrangler for the winter. For warm weather motoring, he now has some aftermarket safari doors that allow for the free flow of air. The flat windshield is hinged at the bottom so it can be pushed out and secured on top of the engine hood with straps. The Jeep is equipped with four seat belts to keep passengers safely in place when roads get bumpy.

Initially, the Jeep had rubber floor mats that covered drain plugs in the floor. Stephens has discovered that leaving out the drain plugs is more efficient: Whenever dirt or sand accumulates on the floor, the mats can be lifted out to expose the drain holes, allowing the interior to be washed out with a garden hose.

Stephens reports that the current top on his 1991 Jeep is the third one. It is stretched over a steel roll cage with a slanted roll bar. Sprouting from the floor is the lever controlling the manual five-speed transmission. Adjacent to the gearshift lever is a second lever that operates the four-wheel-drive transfer case function when needed.

The 100-mile-per-hour mark on the speedometer, Stephens says, is overly optimistic. Most of the 119,000 miles on the odometer have been accumulated with Stephens behind the three-spoke steering wheel, though a few of those miles were added when Stephens was teaching his daughters, Savanna and Georgia, to drive – and manage – the manual transmission.

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