I have owned four different CJ’s over the years. I still own a 1985 CJ-7. They are the vehicle that defined Jeeping. I love them. But I’m thinking about letting my CJ-7 go because I fear it’s not safe.
This is not a lecture. I’m taking an opportunity to tell a story and to get you thinking about what you drive and where you drive it.
My neighbor’s name is Mike. He’s a machinist and CNC operator at work. He’s a really good fabricator and a great neighbor. He finally got ahold of a CJ-8 and has been building it up to do some overlanding in the Nevada desert. He was prepping his CJ-7 to sell.
On May 27th, just before 5am, Mike was driving to work in his CJ-8. He got cut off and the two vehicles collided sending Mike’s Jeep off the road, rolling over and crashing in to a tree. The Jeep caught fire. Mike was caught inside. A near-by Sheriff’s deputy was first on scene and pulled Mike to safety. But Mike wasn’t alright. He suffered head trauma, crushed C5 vertebrae, broken foot and more. Everyone who has saw the accident site says the roll bar saved his life.
Although it had a roll bar (not a cage), it did not have any air bags or crumple zones. It wadded up like stepping on an aluminum can, with Mike inside.
Miraculously, Mike is up and walking with a walker. His spirits are very high. He came home the other day and has a long road to recovery. But Mike is selling his CJ-7 and will not replace the CJ-8. He’s selling his 60’s era Ford Falcon wagon. Mike’s plan moving forward is to buy a newer Toyota Tacoma, with multiple airbags and several crumple zones. He’s swapping rigs because he wants his family to be safe driving with him. He’ll build up the Tacoma to do overlanding across Nevada.
The CJs are great rigs for wheeling. I would love to see them continue wheeling forever. But I’m thinking we should avoid driving them on the road if we don’t have to. That would include to and from the trail.
I’m thinking, if I keep my CJ-7, I will set it up to flat towing. I’ll pull it to the trail, wheel the heck out of it and tow it home. But I’ll no longer use it to drive across town to go to the hardware store or to swing by Super Burrito. It’s just not safe in a high-speed collision.
Mike’s family has set-up a ‘Go Fund Me’ account in order to deal with the medical costs associated with Mike’s accident. I didn’t write this article to solicit funds but if you can spare $20 please do. I wrote it to get those who own older rigs to think about not driving them on the street. I don’t want to see any wheeler lose their life. I want them to wheel forever.
Go Fund Me link:
Please be safe out there!