Mac will be driving soon — a fact that he brings up with greater and greater frequency. I have mixed feelings on the whole situation. On one hand, it will be convenient for him to be able to drive himself to a job, or the mall, or to pick me up some Waffle Fries. On the other hand, I don’t ever want him to be in danger, ever, and I’ve seen some of you drive and, frankly, it scares me.
Earlier this year, we were driving my old Jeep Cherokee down an old street. We noticed ANOTHER old Jeep for sale, a Wrangler, and Mac said “Let’s stop and check it out, Dad.” Never wanting to turn down an opportunity to nose around an old Jeep with my son, I said “Sure”. Long story short, I bought him an old Jeep.
A few disclaimers: it was super cheap. Jeeps hold their value at a ridiculous rate, no matter how rusted out and beat up they are. Paul (our Jeepman’s Seller) was most interested in getting rid of his. Another disclaimer: I can fix Jeeps. New cars, with their safety features and complicated electronics are rather unfixable and frankly off-putting to this old luddite. But anything with AMC (American Motors Corp) bones is well known territory for me.
With Mac still a few months away from driving (I’m fine with that), he and I can spend time getting this thing in better shape — as if it could be improved, right? I mean, look at it!!
The ol’ Jeep is a 5 speed manual. The driving lessons have already been a… treat. I suggested to Mac that he’s probably the only kid in his grade who will know how to drive a stick.
Mac and I headed over to the local junkyard a few weeks back to harvest parts. We needed a new set of back seat brackets, a seat belt receiver, and a reason to walk through miles of rusty metal. They charge $2/person, plus a small fee for whatever you take with you. Parents, I cannot recommend this theme park enough!
Alas, the counterpart Jeep we found at the junkyard was stripped clean of the parts we needed. So we looked all over to find the very necessary seat belt receiver (the part with the button on it). Because of the Law™, you can’t just buy a replacement from O’Reilly Auto Parts, and good luck finding a dealer that happens to have a 26 year old part like this, even in the back of the shop where Rusty works and keeps to himself, mostly reading periodicals like Good Canadian Housekeeping and World Bowling Weekly.
Eventually we found what we were looking for, but not on another Jeep, and not even on another Chrysler vehicle. As it turns out, the seat belt receivers we needed were found on — of all things — a 1990 Ford Bronco II (the sequel). That’s right: Our AMC-inspried, Chrysler-built Jeep needed a Ford part. Take that, NAFTA. $1 and a few tetanus shots later, we were on our way!
I’ll tell you this: when I was his age (like 75 years ago), I would’ve loved it if someone bought me a rusty old Jeep that looked like it lost a fight at a bar. That wasn’t in the cards for me, but that’s ok, because I get to do something better: work on an old Jeep with my son. Sure, I drive it. But he reminds me it’s his Jeep — and he’s right about that. Still gotta find those rear seat brackets.
Did I mention it’s a 5 speed? And that I don’t want him to drive yet?