I have been in the motor industry for close to 20 years. Before that, motoring has run in my family for three generations. Over the years I have worked with many brands, each with their own enthusiasts but I have never come across followers as loyal as those who belong to the Jeep Tribe. There is an essence, a “Spirit of Jeep” that flows through these people. I used to consider The Rubicon Trail the spiritual home of the Jeep vehicle – but have slowly come to realise that the spiritual home of these vehicles is deep inside each and every owner.
Photo credits: Jacqui Ikin, Kirsty Kennedy, Chelsea Manike
If you’re a petrol head, it stands to reason that you could well be defined by your choice of transport. In fact, throughout the ages, many a “statement” has been made by an individual’s chosen brand. One’s vehicle could be considered a reflection, an extension of who you are. Whilst this may not always be entirely true, one can say without a shadow of a doubt that some brands simply attract a very specific type of person. The Jeep brand engenders passion. It is seldom just a means of getting from A to B. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Jeep is, quite literally, a legend in this sphere. Let’s take it a step further. The Jeep brand, and its associated lifestyle and cult like following is a direct result of Jeep owners who have incredible brand loyalty. In 2018, at the annual “The Gathering” (Society of Cult Brands), Jeep was awarded the status of a “Cult Brand” Honoree – the first and only automotive brand to be recognized by the association. To give you some background, The Gathering (founded in 2013) is an exclusive summit which focuses on exposing the principles and practices employed by the world’s most successful brands.
Photo credits: Lindz/Itumeleng Moeng, Hleli Dlamini, John Killian, Ketshepaone Lobelo
Another surprising honour bestowed upon Jeep was the inclusion in a display by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1951. The curator at the time described it as a “sturdy sardine can on wheels”! MoMA is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. It is full of extraordinary exhibitions, as well as collections of modern and contemporary art. There is currently a 1953 Willys Jeep (acquired 2002) on display – which is the only American car in the collection. Paul Galloway, the collection specialist at MoMA who oversees architecture and design, says that “The visual model for this vehicle still dictates the look of Jeeps made to this very day. As a symbol for American machine art and machine aesthetics, there’s nothing better.”
Little love locks were provided to place on the bridge just as they used to do in Paris
Ultimately, the Jeep brand is an authentic SUV brand, with its roots deep within the history of USA. It brings capability, craftsmanship and versatility to people who seek extraordinary journeys. Jeepers are passionate and loyal, identifying as a part of this legendary brand. Since 1941, Jeep has delivered an open invitation to live life to the fullest. When one purchases a Jeep, it is not only about the vehicle (although I’ve heard it said that buying a Jeep Wrangler is like buying a starter kit – and most of them are very specifically “dressed”). You become part of a lifestyle, you belong to the Tribe. Jeep is a love, representing the ability to get away from civilisation, a chance to get enjoyably dirty, the ability to drop the top and experience the open air, to drop the windshield and feel the wind on your face. Jeepers are passionate people who love freedom, adventure and fun, as you can clearly see in the photos below!
Photo credits: Wayne Beuthin, Madoda Blose, Nditsheni Mungoni
“Jeep Life” is a term used to encompass everything pertaining to a lifestyle enjoyed by those owning these vehicles. Jeep has even influenced the English language. Considered a ‘valid’ scrabble word, “Jeeping” is a verb which refers to the act of going “four wheeling” in any vehicle. A rough, two-spoor track is often referred to as a “Jeep Track” (noun), even when being traversed by other brands. From unlimited merchandise (encompassing their own clothing line and even strollers) and a special wave used to greet other owners (known as the “Jeep Wave), all the way through to MOPAR, which is a mashup of two words – ‘MOtor’ and ‘PARts’. Created by the Chrysler Corporation to launch its line of parts and accessories in 1937, it began with a single, paradigm-changing product – “MoPar antifreeze”. Today, MOPAR is one of the automotive industry’s most recognized brands, which celebrated its 85th birthday this year. Beyond parts, accessories, and customer service, the brand is most associated with performance, from its long history with NASCAR to legendary dragsters and sponsorships that continue today. Camp Jeep is a regular event across the world, where people get to spend a weekend together Jeeping and enjoying life.
Lucia & Praise, Lucelle & Abie, Makgotso & Malesela
In South Africa the brand holds less market share than in the land of its birth (America), but the local Jeep public are just as passionate! This leads to the point of the story. Jeep International Go Topless Day… in America, mid-May is the start of summer. Jeepers there have celebrated by keeping their shirts on (mostly) and taking their tops off (the Jeep Wranglers) and driving around in large convoys. The world followed, and since 2008 Go Topless Day has been a Jeep thang.
Photo credits: Pule Makena, Wayne Beuthin, Guyot Rethaa
South Africa followed suit, and on Saturday 21st May Topless Day was celebrated in style – with all models of Jeep vehicles. Complete with an icy cold front, high winds, dark gloomy skies and drizzle, the weather did not play along! That said, not a single Jeeper cancelled or failed to pitch up – not even the weather dampened the spirits of 115 Jeeps and 275 people, all from the general public and four different Jeep dealerships . They joined in the convoy and converged on Little Paris in Hartbeespoort. Everyone received a “Swag Bag” with branded goodies to commemorate the day, as well as a bunch of discount vouchers to various attractions in the area. Little love locks were provided to place on the bridge just as they used to do in Paris.
Even Werner from Little Paris has a Jeep! Photo Credit: Brigitte Barrett, proud Jeeper Nditsheni Mungoni, #DuckDuckJeep Photo credit: Brigitte Barrett
I’m not sure there is another motoring brand that is able to squeeze every single moment of fun out of an occasion as well as the Jeep public – some were still in Harties a day later, having spent the evening and taken advantage of the vouchers on the Sunday morning. The group WhatsApp blew up with images of people enjoying themselves, including a Lego building endeavor (won at the event) which took place at home early on Sunday morning. After a two year dearth of events, Jeepers are clearly ready to get out and celebrate life. It was so good to get back to the Jeep peeps and enjoy a wonderful morning of camaraderie. Jeep definitely brings people together in a really good way – a heart-warming celebration of enthusiasm and passion for a legendary brand, owned by adventurous individuals determined to enjoy every adventure.
Photo credits: Alex Ketete, Alex Ketete, John Killian
#jeeplife #jeepgotoplessday #SouthAfricaWillTravelAgain #TourismStrong
Should you wish to be a part of this wonderful Jeep adventures tribe, simply fill in the enquiry form below and they will keep you updated regarding future Jeep events taking place throughout the country. This is one tribe, that really does have a great country-wide community vibe.
Alternatively you can contact JeepLifeSA on 082-338-8809, which is also the name of their official Facebook fan page.
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