Home » Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines He’s David Tracy Buying A ‘Holy Grail’ 1987 Jeep Truck That Never Existed

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines He’s David Tracy Buying A ‘Holy Grail’ 1987 Jeep Truck That Never Existed

Topshot 6

By Alternate-Universe-David Tracy

“I know you’re on a strict diet, but…”

The above text awoke me from a deep slumber after a late night wrenching on my newly acquire0605d 1987 AMC Jeepster (follow the link to get up-to-speed on alternate-universe-DT), getting it ready for its big debut at Pasteinter’s Cars & Coffee. The text message was followed by a link to a craigslist ad, and was sent to me by our colleague and fellow serial car/bus collector Mercedes. She mentioned the “diet” since she knows that I am trying to appease the desires of the City of Troy to not purchase any more cars and blight their lovely suburb. Adding the aforementioned egg-shaped Jeepster did not do much to moving things in their direction:

[Editor’s Note: This isn’t actually me writing this, this is The Bishop writing as if he were me, but in an alternate-universe. The AMC Jeepster never exited, the SJX platform doesn’t exist, the Offroadster doesn’t exist, the “TechForce” V8 engine doesn’t exist, and the events depicted in this article involving fake-me and fake-Mercedes didn’t happen. Honestly, I’m deeply confused and disturbed, and really unsure whether publishing this is better for humanity or much, much worse. I’m sorry, but the Bishop cannot be tamed. And also, I really respect that he created fake brochures of fake cars with fake, but incredibly detailed and interesting features. -DT]. 

Side View
This is the Jeep alternate-universe DT bought in the last article. Image source (backdrop): Hagerty

However, Mercedes also knows that I am a big fan of the new-from-the-ground-up for 1987 Jeep SJX full-sized trucks, and always sends me for-sale examples that she sees. Autopians are likely aware that I lovingly own a white example of the SJ pickup (which can fit a Changli in it’s bed), and the next generation SJX is highly revered by Jeep fans since it supposedly still possessed a true Jeep soul, but also offered a rugged independent front suspension and other refinements the nearly-unchanged-since-1963 SJ simply didn’t have (it’s also around 300 to 400 pounds lighter) [Editor’s Note: Some early Wagoneers and Gladiators came with independent front suspension, but they’re super rare. -DT]. Dick Teague’s team basically kept the design language of the Cherokee/Commanche, tweaked the details, and upsized it…if you wanted the soul of an XJ but in something F150-sized then your dream truck awaited.

Jeep 87
source (backdrops): Pursley Dixon, onekindesign

Below is the full lineup of models. No matter if you were looking for a forest service-basic pickup or a something to upstage a Range Rover, Jeep had you covered:

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The SJX series started with short and long wheelbase pickups and then moved up to the Chief range of four door wagons, including a long wheelbase 3 row version and even sport editions with floor shifts. AMC tooled up for a four door pickup- the Crew Chief- but didn’t have enough cash left to make longer doors for a two door Chief.

Top of the top of the heap was the $34,700 (in 1987 dollars) eight-passenger Grand Wagoneer to keep at the Aspen mansion. The Wagoneer had a chrome grille insert, body colored bumpers, and quad headlamps to set you apart from the unwashed masses in two headlight, grey bumpered lower level models. Inside, Wagoneers featured wood trim, digital gauges, and a metal-finish analog Rolex clock to make it upper-crust friendly.

Dashes

Obviously anything with a Rolex dash clock is a bit like Kryptonite to me. More to my liking is that pickup version of this SJX, called the Honcho.  Unfortunately, the Honcho was released just as AMC was being taken over by Chrysler, a company that had their own full sized truck line. To avoid cannibalizing sales, Chrysler poorly promoted the SJX Honcho pickup and killed it as soon as the big-rig looking Ram was ready to launch in 1993.

The Holy Grail

It’s getting exceedingly rare to find any non-Wagoneer SJX models today, particularly special editions like the Honcho OffRoadster pickup.

The Offroadster was a short wheelbase V8 4WD version which had the roof chopped off by American Sunroof Corporation and replaced by a wider-than-the-body fiberglass ‘roll bar’ cap housing an electric mechanism that slid the roof panel back over the bed area (and added a retractable backlight). It was really a pretty ingenious solution from the tragically-fated Heinz Prechter…also far less complex than many similar solutions like the Japan-only Toyota Soarer AeroCabin and Honda Del Sol TransTop. Even if the whole thing looked a bit like a backwards baseball cap when the roof was opened, most 1987 owners wore their hats in a such a manner anyway; plus, to have a hard roof convertible that took up no bed space and opened at the touch of two buttons made the visual tradeoff worth it.

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The “TechForce” AMC 360 in the OffRoadster was heavily modified and enhanced with dual throttle body fuel injection, a hotter cam, dual exhaust, and a few more tweaks raising the power from something-bad-even-for-malaise (140 or so) up to just over 235 horsepower….yes, I am well aware that the V8s in Big Three cars offered more with about 600cc less of displacement (about the size of a whole 2CV motor), but at least it was now making respectable power. It also featured..according to type buried deep in an old press release…”a revised lubrication system for greater efficiency.” By “greater efficiency” did they mean to actually LUBRICATE the motor, even the back cylinders? Who knows…but all welcome improvements.

The OffRoaster is the undisputed Holy Grail of SJX pickups…and I’d walk past a free Veyron to get one.

So back to the text- what the hell was in the craigslist link that Mercedes sent to me? Take a wild guess.

It was a 1987 OffRoadster…in the same Sebring Red as my “new” Jeepster.

Mercedes Checking Out The Grail

Oh…did I mention that the OffRoadster on offer had a factory five speed stick between the optional leather seats? Would you believe that it was sitting semi-derelict in Coal City, Illinois not far from where Mercedes lived and could “check it out for me?”

This is why recovering addicts are told to cut ties with people in their past life.

Later that day, Mercedes did a search mission and found the OffRoadster to be horrible but still possibly not as bad as expected. It did not currently run, but it ‘has run at least this year’ according to the seller…’I think.’ The entire interior would, according to Mercedes, ‘be a great education for students of fungi-type living organisms’, which is the main reason the full size Jeep fan that owned it deemed the project insurmountable and left it to sit in the Dollar General lot across the street. It sounded awful and entirely undriveable.

What’s the next train that I can take to Union Station in Chicago?

Sjx Main
source (backdrop): superrare.com

The OffRoadster did NOT appear on a StreetView of the address given, so the run-this-year story could be true. Mercedes had thankfully brought her own jack, a newish battery, and other large items that Amtrak would likely frown upon so we could do some basic work to get the truck running. We arrive under overcast skies, and I get my first glimpse of the Holy Grail… it sat sort of askew which was thankfully a flat tire and not a broken spring, crusty as those items looked.

The changes AMC made to this special Honcho surprisingly transform it into something that could be quite fetching in a 1980s way; the “big” 16-inch five spoke alloys, that full width light bar on top (even if only four of the lights actually function, the inside ones being fakes), and the lower body cladding, the drilled attachment points of which being a major source of this example’s corrosion.

All SJX models feature the designed-in “push bar” type bumper/grille up front for an aggressive and functional look. At the back, the OffRoadster package added a sort of rolled-pan ‘sport bumper’ and the innovative AirGate, a sort of hybrid of a typical steel tailgate and a netting-style unit. The AirGate is made of nearly indestructible blow molded plastic and the jail-bar looking thing apparently helps gas mileage, if only by fractions.

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If there is ONE great regret, it is that this particular example of the OffRoadster lacked one insane but desirable option- the Ramble Seat. This feature was first shown by American Motors on a prototype AMX back around 1967, and it’s a play-on-words fold-up outdoor rumble seat:

Picture2
source: American Motors via just a car guy

 

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The one the OffRoadster offered was a blow molded plastic affair with built-in Volvo grid headrests that, honestly, was much like the ‘fun’ seats in the back of a Subaru BRAT, but facing forwards instead, and collapsible. The mounting points were still present (if rusty) in the bed…I will search ebay and craigslist the world over….some day, Rambleseat, I will find you.

The Car Had Problems

Getting inside was easier than getting out, since the interior door handle was broken off on the driver’s side and the outside disabled on the passengers door, but those are XJ-common parts…I think I have five or six good salvaged handles in a dresser drawer at home…doesn’t everyone?

Inevitable leaks from the power Targa roof had allowed rust to perforate small sections of the cabin floor, and indeed a respirator might be a good idea for the ride home…a pretty overpowering scent. The design inside looked futuristic next by my SJ (a design so old that the optional factory air conditioning hangs down under the dash). However, do not fear…the SJX still has vent wing windows in the doors! This must be the last production vehicle ever released with this lamented feature…Jason??

The OffRoadster features wide bucket seats and a console to give a real GT car feel to the interior. There is the Cerwin Vega Bass Boxx under the console storage box, with two nine inch subs facing the floor…when new, a sixteen year old Jason could have rocked Blue Monday with this thing…or whatever GenX aspiring art students listened to.

The spare is mounted on a bracket behind the cab, so combined with the AirGate and targa bar it adds a competition/off road pre-runner kind of vibe to the thing. I would need that spare since the flat tire was not holding air; removing the flat one I felt and saw what appeared to be the biggest balancing weight I’ve ever seen on the inside a wheel. This weight fell off when I removed the wheel…and proved to be a turtle. This guy kind of lucked out since, had he been on any other wheel, it is likely that said turtle would have started turning and centrifugal force press him against the wheel surface like on a carnival Gravitron ride as the Jeep rolled at 60MPH down I-94. Possibly.

Img20220825 20111913

[Ed Note: I generally don’t acknowledge the existence of a “centrifugal force,” since I consider that just the reaction to the centripetal force (which is real), but I’ll let this slide. -DT].

We disconnected the fuel line and with a jump, it turned over and fired up on starter fluid after half a dozen or so attempts, sounding like a bunch of metal garbage cans going down a flight of stairs. Eventually we got it to run constantly, settling into a bass-profundo BLOAT BLOAT BLOAT rhythm (or like the first thirty seconds or so of Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher) as the top end started to quiet down with oil pressure building. Thankfully, not much gas in the tank to pump out and contaminate the fresh fuel we dumped in (the filter didn’t look horrible), and the brake lines looked surprisingly good and did not seize up when pressed. A sane person would change the (cleanish looking) oil and do more investigative work before even going to the end of the lot…a fool would try to drive it five plus hours home.  “Come on, the power roof opened up!  That’s a good sign!” I tell a nonplussed Mercedes.

“Well…I like your new car” says Mercedes, with the simulated enthusiasm you typically give a past-his-prime actor friend after his dinner theater performance of Rent. I pushed in the clutch (still works), popped it in first and pulled away.  Here goes nothing.

The Road Trip Home Was A Shitshow

Picture12

source: Google maps

I get maybe half a mile and the thing is struggling up any kind of incline. Worse than that, the truck goes squarely for the curb when hitting the brakes, like the driver’s side caliper isn’t working AT ALL. No warning lights, gauges normal, which means at least one needle or idiot light is broken. Think, David…is it a sticking caliper? Is a rear drum locking up and holding the truck back?  No, the engine just doesn’t feel right.

Pulling into an auto parts store lot, the drivability problem is apparent. Coolant is pouring on the ground up front…the motor is overheating. But the brakes? That was also pretty obvious…the high engine temp was filling the cracked expansion bottle to overflowing and super-cooling the brake rotor located below.

Engine

Getting hot that fast points to a thermostat, which is discovered to be more closed than a Toys R Us on this 80 degree day. ‘So much for a good sign’ texts Mercedes. Easy fix.

It got worse. On the move again, and the motor refused to idle, requiring that heel-and-toe thing to keep it running at lights, but the potential for this ancient muscle-truck is palatable. As I start to head north towards the highway, the sky is turning black…you can say figuratively or literally black…either way it looks like bad news. The transmission has a bad-but-improving-as-it heats-up 1-2 syncro, and the rear end sounds like it’s making some kind of whining sound, which is odd.

Actually, there’s no problem with the diff…turns out that’s not a whining sound…it’s a tornado siren. So now the whole trip is going to hell.

Maybe it’s time to shut the roof. Hit the switch…nothing….push the switch again…no…and again….now we do have a problem.

Shift

“Roof will not shut- these might be my last words’ I text to Mercedes. I get nothing back from her initially, as the wind starts to pick up, and then see a response about five minutes later. ‘Pull over, push forward passenger’s seat, pull off access panel”. I have no idea what that means, but figure she must have done a Google search. There is, indeed, a pry-off access door on the ASC-installed panel behind the seats…revealing an Allen socket..and an Allen key snapped on the back of the panel. Could it be?

Crank1

I crank for all it’s worth and the roof SLOWLY SLOWLY starts to shut. I barely get it closed when the downpour begins. Following the leaks give me a great indication where the floor will no longer exist. I couldn’t see a tornado even if it were out there, the ‘wipers’ being more ‘smearers’ at this point. The weather warning on the phone is saying to ‘find a fortified structure’ which the SJX sort of is…I could say it doesn’t feel as ‘substantial’ as my old SJ but that might just be the fact that I am confusing ‘crude’ and ‘less refined’ with more substance. Hard to tell.

Storms this rough don’t last long, and as it cleared up the water in the cabin found its way out the holes in the floor. I could likely shove my drill with an Allen bit into that roof emergency override and create a ‘power top’ backup to enjoy open air again but think better of it and just enjoy the seats that don’t replicate park benches as in my SJ. One tire simulates the (nonfunctional) Cerwin Vega Bass Boxx above 60MPH so that is our maximum right now as night falls.

I admire some cool features on the interior, particularly storage. The upper glove box on the Honcho (there are two gloveboxes) is actually a drawer…I don’t know if I’ve seen this on any other car but it’s really quite brilliant. No fumbling for things in a big pile…everything is laid out right there, with even a pocket for the owner’s manual and documents.

Glovebox

There are slide out drawers under the seats…do you REALLY want to see what kind of dead animals are in there? The OffRoadster also features the removeable turn-into-shoulder-bag JeepPacks on the doors, and this example still has both intact. The lower part of the pack is in leather that matches the seats, and they can be collapsed into your suitcase or backpack when empty. I’ll be a celebrity to old Jeep fans everywhere I carry these things, and get disgusted stares from everyone else that wonders why a black mold covered car part is hanging from my shoulder.

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I’ve already filled up the gas tank once in daylight (don’t trust the gauge, though it appears to work), but I get off in Jackson to try to pump more “good” high octane into the tank. I need to drive into town to find an open station at this hour. After the fill up, despite the quiet of this locale, I inexplicably can’t resist doing the juvenile thing of ‘giving it the beans’ for the first time…the inside rear wheel hops like a bunny on cocaine and the tires are still spinning in second. Overall, this thing would likely get smoked by even the least powerful brand-new F series, but with the light weight (and getting lighter all the time on mine) this is easily the fastest vehicle I now own (which is admittedly a low bar). With a shot muffler, it SOUNDS fast, and feels fast with that torque and the stick.

The red interior lighting (exclusive to the OffRoadster) adds a cool look at night, as does the hint of blue…wait…blue and red lights?

I pull over. This is the basic exchange that followed.

“Hello Sir”

“Hello Officer. Look, I’ll fess up…the registration I have with me is for a Red 1987 Jeep, but it’s a DIFFERENT 1987 Jeep that I …”

“Sir that isn’t why I pulled you over, it’s just…wait….is that a turtle on your dashboard?”

“Yes, that’s Willy…for Willys…he was in a wheel…I know he should be in like a turtle seat or something….but Mercedes put him there for luck..”

“Sir this isn’t even CLOSE to a Mercedes, this is an old Jeep truck…have you had anything to drink tonight?”

“No…not Mercedes the car, but..”

“Sir, the reason I’m pulling you over is that I spotted a wheel in the middle of the road about half a mile back, and you’re about the only car on the road right now and the wheel seems to match the ones on…”

Skm C250i22080914100

So here’s the thing…I didn’t bother to bolt the flat tire onto the rusty spare wheel bracket, nor did I read online that the AirGate was notorious for not syncing up with the latches for the metal tailgate and could, if pushed by weight (like a wheel) open up and release the cargo, like a precious unobtainable charcoal-mica finish polished lip OffRoadster five spoke alloy. When I punched it after the gas station it must have fallen out…I KNOW that Willy saw this out the back window and said nothing, so this is a pretty useless turtle.

The officer let me go. “Sir, what were you saying about registration? You know what…forget it…it’s late..”

Tire retrieved and bolted in place, it looks like we will, in fact, make it home. Because of this imminent success, I take a different route north so I can pass the glowing-in-the-night American Center, a glass high rise in the Detroit suburb of Southfield originally built by AMC as their headquarters. Here, on an upper floor in some meeting around 1985 I am assuming a person likely said to the team..”hey, let’s take some of these new SJX trucks, saw off the roof, add a big motor, and make it like a ‘sports truck’”, and NOBODY threw a Styrofoam coffee cup at him. That’s probably one of the reasons why AMC is long gone and the building is a bank office now.

American Center

source: wikipedia

I’m very happy that nobody told this person that the OffRoadster would be silly and nixed it, because this mythical unicorn is pretty much all that I imagined it would be. What it lacks in the charm and old-school appeal of my old SJ it more than makes up for with performance and innovation of a twenty five year newer design (albeit 1987 innovation). It will certainly be a fleet favorite, and with time and money I don’t have could be made into something spectacular. But aren’t ‘patinated’ cars still cool?  Do holes in a floor count as patina?

Oh, and does anyone in the Detroit metro area want a turtle?

 

1987 Jeep/ASC Honcho OffRoadster Pickup

Base Price: $24,380
As Shown: $25,867
Major Standard Equipment:
Electric Sliding Roof Panel
Air Conditioning
Power Windows and Door Locks
AM/FM Stereo Cassette
Options on Photo Car:
Leather Seating Surfaces
Cerwin Vega Sound System with Bass Boxx

Drivetrain:
5899cc OHV V8, dual throttle body fuel injectors, 235 HP
5 speed manual transmission, 4WD

Chassis:
Double wishbone independent front suspension- coil springs
Live axle- leaf springs
Front disc/rear drum brakes
Recirculating ball steering

Performance:
0-60:  7.3 seconds
Top speed: 112MPH

Relatedbar

Read more on The Autopian

A Daydreaming Designer Imagines An AMC Sports Car Based On The Look Of The Pacer – The Autopian

https://www.theautopian.com/our-daydreaming-designer-imagines-hes-david-tracy-buying-a-1987-jeepster-that-never-existed/

https://www.theautopian.com/a-trained-designer-imagines-what-american-motors-corporation-would-have-been-like-if-it-had-survived/

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52 Responses

  1. I realize I designed something very similar to this recently for a short film, albeit with a more Dodge Rampage front end rather than Lincoln Towncar. There’s just something about the Jeep Comanche’s form and 1980s concept car design cue that blends so well together and makes the perfect boxy low-slung minitruck.

    1. Data- my first draft had him eating spaghetti from a Crate & Barrell place setting while playing Ministry on his vintage BeoCenter, so you would have gotten even fewer vibes from that.

    2. He mentioned that Jason would have been listening to New Order, not David.
      I thought that was weird as well the first time I saw it. Had to go back and re-read it

      1. Yes, but David would need to know who New Order are and Blue Monday to speculate Jason might listen to them. Maybe Neo-David is more pop culture diverse than Proto-David.

  2. This must be the last production vehicle ever released with this lamented feature…Jason??

    I had to stop here in disgust. ’87 was the last year? Really? WTF.
    I understand that this is bizarro-world here, but the vent window continued in the F-150 for damn near another decade. There can’t be that much difference between this world and ours.

    1. Mr. Asa- ah, but note that I said last new vehicle RELEASED with wing vents. I’m well aware that cars (like the Panther cars up through 1990) and the F series still offered this feature, but the seventh, eighth, and nineth generation F series all shared the same new-for-1980 passenger compartment so I didn’t count those as ‘new’ cars being introduced. And ‘David’ was just asking the question, and my guess is that he is of an age where this is in the distant, unknown past unlike it is for, well, old ass guys like me.

      1. The distinction of a “new” vehicle Vs existing is enough to spare you this time.

        I think the Dodge vans of the time also had it, along with the aforementioned Panther and F150. I’d have to double check that though. Not sure how long they went with them, but it feels like it was a while longer than most other vans.

        1. Mr. Asa- we had an 83 Colony Park wagon with the ‘twist knob’ opening kind and an 88 Town Car with the little-window-goes-down-first kind so the Panther stuff I’m familiar with.

          Many large truck bodies kept the old passenger compartment long after the smaller ‘civilian’ ones were introduced, so there’s that, too.

          1. Oh wow.
            For some reason your mention of “twist knob” reignited a whole host of tactile memories of the vent windows in Dad’s ’74 VW Camper Van and their lift-twist action to open. Like a whole lot of memories.
            Strangely, despite the very similar action (push-twist instead of VW’s lift-twist) on my ’93 F150, and the hundreds of thousands more miles using that window, no memories came up from my truck with that phrase. Maybe cause the VW is an actual twist action where the Fords you can almost get away with a push-pull action to engage disengage the lock?

            I think I need to visit home and help Dad get the van back on the road.

            Sorry, weird digression there.

            1. Mr. Asa- actually when I said ‘twist knob’, opening the vent windows on the Mercury and Ford Panthers (up to a certain year) involved literally twisting a round knob below the window. You had to twist it till it felt like your wrist was gonna fall off to get it to open a few inches. The latch you speak of is more appealing, but the glue used to hold the latch to the glass on VW Rabbits was not great, if I recall.

              1. It sounds like it was a separate window crank? Having a hard time picturing what you’re talking about if you don’t mean that.
                Did a brief google but wasn’t able to find any pics. Got any you can point me to?

                Regardless, sounds like a strange design.

                    1. Not sure why they would fit a large knob rather than a crank handle. Some bigger Japanese cars of the 80s had small crank handles for quarter vent windows – from memory it was in Datsun 240C through to 280C models. They had the same shaft spline as the main window crank handles, which coincidentally meant that I could use a set of these mini crank handles on all 4 windows in my Datsun 610 Coupe so I could still open the windows, after the roll cage interfered with the original ones.

        2. Rolls-Royce had them in 1989 for the Silver Spirit II, the last time that the SZ cars actually had a significant enough body change to classify it as a different car. And it kept them for two whole generations, until 1994. The Silver Dawn, the same basic car with some funky additions meant to be a stop-gap in late 1994 until the fourth generation Silver Spirit came out in 1995, got rid of them in in favour of aerodynamic mirrors. Technically this means the Bentley Brooklands and Turbo of the same era also count, since they just used the same bodies.

          I can’t think of anything else that either lasted after 1987 that hasn’t already been listed, or counts as a “new” car for the model year. Window mounted mirrors became such an industry standard that they wiped out vent windows.

    2. Ford no longer exists in this universe. The recalls and lawsuits from the exploding glovebox hinges on the ’69 Edsel Granada put them out of business.

      1. Ford no longer exists and yet somehow AMC still does but in dire enough straits to get absorbed by Chrysler? Nah. Market share alone would allow them to expand enough to remain independent. Therefore Ford is still kicking.

  3. Still sounds like this fictional vehicle was in pretty darn good shape by David Tracy standards. There needs to be a follow up article about fixing all the major mechanical problems when it broke down 37 seconds after publishing this article.

  4. Although I have a great deal of trouble believing that a perpetually cash-strapped AMC would do the bespoke engineering and put in some of the features you mentioned (air gate, drawer glovebox, unique sliding roof, ‘ramble’ seat, Jeep Pack, etc.) it’s always an incredibly fun ride down your alternative universe lanes.

    You even perfectly capture the nonchalant bravado of DT just going for it and working mechanical wonders to keep hopeless basket cases going.

    Now, where do I find a long-bed Honcho?

    1. Origami- you might be right, but what I always loved about AMC was that they tried different things despite their lack of money. I mean, is the love-it-or-hate-it Pacer really something that a relatively struggling company should have done? Probably not, and we’re all glad that they did.

      Also, things like the air gate and sliding roof were ASC/semi-aftermarket things, which also explains why I put such a high (for the time) new price tag on it.

    1. I’m a married man, SquareTaillight! I do not have a crush on a guy who drives rugged old Jeeps and bathes in the North Sea, appealing as that sounds.

  5. Great work! But one question arose because I read July’s Jeepster post immediately before this one: Both the Jeepster and the OffRoadster are high-option variants, so why would the OffRoadster’s RambleSeat (bo space, like the OffRoadster itself and the progenitor of the style, WordPerfect, which definitely was a thing in 1987) have Volvo- grid headrests instead of the seven-slot headrests used in the Jeepster’s back seat? (See https://images-stag.jazelc.com/uploads/theautopian-m2en/interior2-1024×576.jpg)

    1. AlterId- the only reason was that the RambleSeat is blow molded plastic (like the AirGate); the process is like what it used on things like coolers, and it would be tough to get six open slots that small molded in (the headrests on the Jeepster could be done with injection molding, which allows for smaller slots). More than you needed to know, but that was my thinking!

  6. The Bishop has invented a new category of writing. This is the real “Auto Fiction” and not “autofiction” as in fictionalized autobiography.

  7. I miss vent windows. Back in the day when I used to smoke, if you managed to keep your cigarette in the right place the suction from the wing window would whip the smoke and ash right out.

  8. There was an AMC show car that was like a Subaru BRAT based on an Eagle. I saw it abandoned in a junk yard in Detroit in the mid ’90s long after it was supposed to have been destroyed. I found an old photo of it at the Detroit library back then (IIRC, it was a 1979 show car, originally metallic brown, though it was primer gray when I saw it), but it’s tough to find any info on it today.

  9. The key slot to the left of the glovedrawer shoots bolts on either side of it, doesn’t it? Because that pull sure looks like an oh shit handle. And you’ll want to Velcro the turtle for off-road action. Or stuff him in the JeepPack and hang it off a hanger-hook in the back. The AirGate is awesome and makes an instant playpen for drive-ins and when the babysitter doesn’t show and you have to go tend the still. The faux reinforced front reminds me more of a roo-bar than American brush guard, but it looks good and that’s just quibbling. The sunroof crank is spot-on-and love that you basically tell us to Google that shit.

    Great tableau. It’s got an out of focus Max Headroom-y vibe. Nice detail with the other Jeep lurking ominously in the background and the kid peeling potatoes out of a boxcar getting ready to Tom Sawyer his buddy there. And good job crawling into faux David’s skin. Little creepy, but well done.

    9.7/10. Will reread again later with pleasure

  10. The first thirty seconds or so of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” is pure technical drumming mastery.

    It may have an equal number of moving clanging parts as any badly worn engine, but the timing is more spot on than any new engine ever was.

    If I started any car and it’s engine sounded like the drum intro to “Hot For Teacher” I’d feel comfortable driving it across the country (Maybe that’s what that imagined engine is supposed to sound like?).

    Alex Van Halen was really giving Buddy Rich a run for his money on those drums when he came up with that beat.

  11. “I think I have five or six good salvaged handles in a dresser drawer at home…doesn’t everyone?”
    You really nailed the DT character with that line. This is an outstanding article so far. Back to it….

  12. Even Parallel Universe DT collects rust.

    Now I wonder if there is a Parallel DT that is anti-rust and punts anything with a flake to a new owner. The multiverse may collapse, but fun to think about.

  13. “I get maybe half a mile and the thing is struggling up any kind of incline”

    Sir, I was born and raised in Coal City. There ain’t no inclines anywhere. Flat as a board for a 50 mile radius.

    1. UncouthSloth- I said ‘any kind of incline’ so maybe an ‘on ramp’, but Coal City is obviously a few miles from I-55. I think that is the interchange with the Braidwood Inn that was used in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?

      1. You are correct: 3 miles from I-55, via the Illinois 113 interchange. The next interchange south on I-55 is Reed Road which is where the Braidwood Inn stood.

        Fun Fact 1: The Braidwood Inn, which was and is a real place, once served as a poor-man’s Sybaris, with Jungle Rooms and the like.

        Fun Fact 2: John Candy was a prince amongst men; during a break in shooting, he bought us punks ice cream bars as we were gawking.

        Fun Fact 3: when I tell people I’m from Coal City, IL, everyone assumes I am a hillbilly, which is correct. But only indirectly: people also assume it looks like West Virginia, a rundown hamlet with one main drag clinging to the side of a mountain. Of course we have no mountains, and we have 2 main (intersecting) drags. Yes, there were once coal mines, and my forefathers migrated from KY/WV for work. Why they thought there would be coal underneath flat-ass Illinois farmland is beyond me, but there was.

        1. Uncouth- glad to hear that John Candy was as nice as I hoped he would be!

          I know a lot of locations from those movies since I’m in the thick of it. I’m just about to go pick up pizza from a place below the SAVE FERRIS water tower after I buy Diet Coke from the grocery store in ‘She’s Having A Baby’. I live in the world of John Hughes.

  14. Where is this universe’s David, anyhow? LA? Troy, Mich.? Are his stereo and TV set up? Has he run a load of valve covers through the dishwasher yet?

  15. Epic. The only thing that shattered the illusion for me was the idea that David is capable of so many pop music references.

    Everyone knows that alternate universe David tragically lost his hearing at an early age, after spending most of his early childhood in a futile battle to fix the timing on the rattling cacophony of plastic pistons under the hood of his AMC Polymer Pacer, an early (and less successful) competitor to the Little Tikes Cosy Coupe.

  16. It wouldn’t have mattered; Chrysler would have killed them anyway. The Dodge/Ram unit carried a lot of weight back then., and when they said no, that was it. But when Sergio Marchionne came onto the scene, Ram’s swagger days were over.

    1. IDM3- yes, I did mention that in the article. I figured they would have kept it around for a bit (like they did with the Eagle-branded cars) but certainly not after the ‘new’ semi-truck-nose Ram was introduced.

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