Love them or hate them, Friday last week marks the end of the JK Wrangler. Production has now ceased as the last JK rolled off the production line, with tooling and factory changes now being made for the next iteration of adventure Jeep. The new JL Wrangler has been announced, revealed, and set to begin production very soon for delivery later this year, but it’s worth paying homage to what helped push a lot of people towards a love of off-roading and 4X4 adventures.
Now, with the end of the JK Wrangler, I remember back when I was just a young lad, I got to see the original Jurassic Park at the cinemas. The dinosaurs were cool and all, but there was that grey and red Jeep that they manage to escape from the T-Rex in, and well, as an 11-year-old, it really leaves a sense of wonder and awe with you. Fast forward a few years, and the TJ really took off in Australia and looked like an adventure on wheels.
The hassle with the TJ was that it was a 2-door, and with three kids across the back seat there wasn’t room for a pair of tennis shoes, let alone a weeks worth of groceries in the back. The TJ was seen by folks with actual responsibilities as a “a hell of a fun toy, but completely impractical for what we need”.
Then around the end of 2006 along came this Jeep Wrangler, still screaming adventure, but that had four doors, and a boot space you could actually use. No longer was the Wrangler just for hairdressers and weekend-warriors. You could stump up the money for a Wrangler, and take the whole family (with camping gear too!) away on a weekend adventure. The JK Wrangler went from being a “fun toy” to “daily driver”.
Another attribute that punters really fell in love with was the modular set up achievable with a JK. It was like having a Meccano 4X4. Once you had the accessories, you could bolt them on 30 different ways, and with a bit of thought, a completely different setup with the only thing stopping you would be your imagination.
The other greatest thing about the JK, is that out of the box, for each year model, they were arguably the most capable 4X4 on the market. From 2006 lockers were an often taken up option, they flexed better than anything else on the road off the showroom floor, and they were, for all intents and purposes, ready for adventure as soon as you picked it up from the dealership.
Sure, I may be gushing a bit over the JK’s and don’t get me wrong, I’ve not personally owned one, though I was given one to drive around for three months for a long term review, they’re just a solid bit of kit for what they are. I’m absolutely looking forward to the new JL, but at the same time a little sad to see the end of the JK Wrangler.