Known for its distinctive body style, rugged appearance, and ability to handle nearly any trail this world can throw at it, the legendary Jeep Wrangler has become an icon since it was first released in 1987. The original model was designed after the body structure of the jeeps used in World War II. Since 1987, the Jeep Wrangler has undergone various facelifts and both internal and external revisions, but has still managed to remain one of the most popular off-road vehicles of all time.
There is some debate over which Jeep was truly the original. The Jeep YJ hit the market in 1987 and featured the body design that we know and recognize even today, twenty-four years later. A less distinctive Jeep was however being produced ever since 1944 that was known as the Willy’s CJ, or civilian jeep. It also came to be known as the Jeep CJ. Production on this line stopped in 1986 due to slow sales, although the Jeep line had a fairly large following. The YJ had a wider track, ran a bit lower to the ground, and provided more comfort.
The Jeep Rubicon came into being in 2003, bringing a 5 speed manual transmission, sturdy Dana 44 axles, 16 inch wheels, and a 4:1 NV241OR low range transfer case to impress the already stalwart jeep fans. In 2005 the transmission was changed from the 5 speed manual to a 6 speed, the NSG370, with Mercedes origins. The Jeep Rubicon was so named in honor of the famous Rubicon Trail, a 4×4 trail high in the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain range.
Lara Croft Takes a Ride
In 2003 the Wrangler Rubicon made a star appearance in the summer blockbuster Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, the sequel to Tomb Raider. Only 1,001 of these special edition Jeep Rubicon “Tomb Raider” variations were manufactured. This special edition Jeep came with everything the normal Rubicon offered as well as extra accessories like the signature red seat belts, tubular grille guard, light bar, diamond bumper guard, and rivet fender flares. The Bright Silver coloring and Tomb Raider badge completed the package.
The Jeep Wrangler JK
The JK model in 2007 fully redesigned the look of the older Wrangler models. Coming with a wheelbase that was a full 2 inches longer and 3.4 inches wider, the JK was much larger than the previous model. There are two standard variations the the Jeep Wrangler JK, one being the 2 door model with a shorter wheelbase, the other being the Unlimited 4 door model with a long wheelbase. Both of these models are offered in Rubicon, Sahara, and X trim levels.
The Rubicon JK
Fitted with the full Rubicon package, the Jeep Wrangler JK becomes the ultimate off-road machine. Features include rock rails, 4:1 transfer case from Rock-Trac, removable doors, folding windshield, electronic rockers for both the front and rear axles, Dana 44 axles, and any other option available.
The Legendary Jeep Wrangler has a history full of changes, makeovers, and overhauls, but it still remains one of the most used off-road vehicles to this stay, and it’s still the Jeep that we have come to know and love.