We all know I write a lot of stuff about old Jeeps, and that I used to be an engineer at Fiat Chrysler. So how did I get this infection known as “The Jeep Thing?” This story about some good ol’ Kansas mudding pretty much sums it up—and it’s also my worst car story.
The car I first learned to drive was a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. It was Forest Green, had a sweet brown interior and of course, had that legendary 4.0-liter inline-six under its hood.
My five brothers and I were known around our little Kansas town as “the Jeep kids.” Our favorite spot was down on a Missouri River floodplain, where the mud was thick and the fishing was good.
We did a number on our Jeep ZJ over the years. We ran into a tree (see below), backed it into a light pole, bent the hood (we forgot to latch it and it flew up on the highway), destroyed the front diff, screwed up all the electricals (mud tends to do that), popped three tires, and several other disasters that I can’t think of right now. Or have repressed in my memory.
By the time the hand-me-down Jeep made it to my youngest brother, it was a shell of its former self. Though that engine kept churning, the rest of the car was in shambles and my poor little brother was stuck driving a dented, scratch car that made some of the most terrible noises I’ve ever heard.
Of all of our tales, though, “The Tractor Story” from around seven or eight years ago featured in today’s video floats to the top as the most epic. It involves mud, mosquitos, my brother trying to impress a girl, and Grand Theft Tractor.