When I was about 8 years old, I saw a movie that would become my favorite movie of all time. Although technically a horror film, it never actually scared me – it instead filled me with awe and inspiration. That film was of course, Jurassic Park.
From the first time I saw that film, and I heard that beautiful score of music, the first time I went to that park, I have been in love with it. I still feel my heart swell when the music plays, and I still feel amazed when I see that first dinosaur.
It should be no surprise then, that I would try to find any way to bring a part of that film into my real life. I was discussing with my roommate how much I loved the film, and we came across the Jurassic Park Motor Pool – a group of people dedicated to replicating the Jeeps used in the film. We decided that night that one day, I would have to have one of these in my life. Did not have a clue how or when, but one day.
Apparently, “one day” would be a few weeks later, when a co-worker would spot a YJ parked on the side of the road for sale not far from our office. It sort of felt like fate? (Granted, if I had known then when I know now, I would have waited and found a different Jeep… but we live and learn!)
So I had to figure out how to get a loan, met with the owner, determined it didn’t have any major rust and it ran okay, and I bought her.
She was a 1990 Jeep Wrangler Sahara – so I was 2 years away from being the correct model, but she was the right edition, and at least a YJ. She did run and her body was in excellent shape. She was a hard top rather than a soft top, but she came with a bikini top. She came with full-doors instead of half-doors. Her interior was grey and tan instead of green, and she was a 4.2L instead of the 4.0L.
To me, my silly brain just saw – ‘just needs a paint job and new top and perfect!’ Ha!
Of course, the first thing I did was to take her to Tire Kingdom to get a very quick look over, and found out her 16 year old tires were un-safe, and had to be immediately replaced.
All the same, I was not going to be deterred – and I was ready to start my new project! So I picked my new number and nicknamed her Rexy, and ordered her keychain and mirror tag.
The first bump in the road came only 72 miles after buying her when she quit running. That would take me a good…. year(?) to solve.
In the meantime, I started working on the interior. Where I learned the previous owner glued the carpet down.
It took me an entire weekend with a bottle of Goo-Gone and a razor blade to scrape out the glue residue to get this out. It was not a fun weekend.
Normally, the Jeeps use carpet to be screen-accurate, but I choose to use Monstaliner instead, since it can be tintable and keep it water-proof.
The dash also had to be repainted and reassembled, going from the original tan into a cinder.
Then for fun, I had a horn button customized with the Ingen logo.
Eventually, the outside of the Jeep got the Monstaliner paint job as well, with her number on the side as well:
Lastly, had to get her running again. This was the part I honestly couldn’t figure out for myself. I had to get her towed out to a lovely shop in St. Petersburg called Jeepetos, who fixed her up for me! When I got her back, they were able to fix her based on what I was attempting to do – and her engine now looks like this:
She’s not completely finished still – her seats need to be redone, she still needs to have new shocks, leaf springs, and her fog lights need to be changed over, and a few other odds and ends, but we’re getting there. So far I’ve been working on her for about two years, and she has been a frustrating, challenging project – but that is just what makes her special.