Should I Buy A New Jeep Wrangler JL That I Helped Engineer?

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It’s crazy that my manager, who hired me and sat at the desk adjacent to mine for two years, ended up becoming the JL’s chief engineer. We met at the launch event, and embraced. It was a beautiful moment.

It’s crazy that my manager, who hired me and sat at the desk adjacent to mine for two years, ended up becoming the JL’s chief engineer. We met at the launch event, and embraced. It was a beautiful moment.
Image: David Tracy

I keep flip-flopping on this. I’ve never bought a new car. Especially as someone with wrenching skills, I just find it financially foolish. And yet, because I was on the Jeep Wrangler JL engineering team, part of me wants to order a brand spankin’ new one. Stick shift, base model, green with tan top; maybe half doors. Is this a bad idea?

My opportunity to buy a new car is slipping away. The only new vehicle I’d ever even consider purchasing is a Jeep Wrangler JL, and that’s because it has the best-engineered cooling system of any vehicle to ever roam this earth. Ahem, anyway. [Brushes shoulder].

I can tell when my emotions are getting the best of me, and I’d say right now is one of those times. Buying a new car is a bad idea. Despite a Wrangler’s good resale value, in ten years, it’ll be worth at least $10,000 less than it is today. Meanwhile, my current crop of cars is actually appreciating in value, and the ones I’ve whipped into shape (my Jeep J10, manual Jeep Grand Cherokee, 1965 Mustang) are requiring only modest, cheap repairs here and there. They’re dead reliable and making me money. Not that I look at cars as investments.

Really, I shouldn’t buy a new Wrangler. It’s a bad idea. But then again, you only get one shot to order a car that you helped engineer; does this matter, or should I just buy one in ten years?

I don’t know. But I’m running out of time to make this decision, because though I’d never buy a first model-year vehicle, I wouldn’t want a final model-year car, either. As a vehicle gets old-in-the-tooth, automakers pull out more and more content in a practice that, at Chrysler, is known as “Technical Cost Reduction.” So if I wait too long, the base JL might be cheapened to the point where it’s not as good of a value proposition (shoot, you already have to pay for any paint color that isn’t white). Plus, who knows how long Jeep will offer the manual V6 that I want.

So, time is of the essence; that brings me to the question: If I were to buy a new JL, should it be this, the base Sport with half doors:

Image for article titled Buying A Brand New Car Is A Terrible Idea, But What If You Helped Engineer That Car?

Image: Jeep

Are those awesome half doors worth paying for if I have to deal with these hideous uppers?:

Image for article titled Buying A Brand New Car Is A Terrible Idea, But What If You Helped Engineer That Car?

Image: Jeep

God that two-piece front window; horrible.

Anyway, I have to choose between the half door and the tan top; the problem is, I can’t get the tan top on the base JL. I have to get the “Sport S,” which costs a little more, but also comes with air conditioning standard:

Image for article titled Buying A Brand New Car Is A Terrible Idea, But What If You Helped Engineer That Car?

Image: Jeep

Image for article titled Buying A Brand New Car Is A Terrible Idea, But What If You Helped Engineer That Car?

Image: Jeep

Both equipped with AC, the price between the two is a wash. So the question is: Half door or tan top? The half-door model looks better with the roof off, but with the roof on, it’s tan top all day.

As for the interiors, I’d want the tan seats:

Image for article titled Buying A Brand New Car Is A Terrible Idea, But What If You Helped Engineer That Car?

Image: Jeep

These machines would cost about $35,500. That’s roughly 15 times what I traditionally pay for cars. Should I do it, or should I wait 50 years, when I can buy a thoroughly-decayed one for $300 and a pack of Juicy Fruit? But who knows, I might not last that long. Maybe I can wait 30 years? Even then, who knows how good my wrenching skills will be.

Then there’s the concern about the long-term viability of owning an inefficient ICE-powered car. Is gas going to cost $8 in 10 years? Will this Jeep’s value plummet even further?

I really need to stop tempting myself with Jeep’s Build and Price site and click back over to my comfort zone, Facebook Marketplace — the land filled with cheap Jeep YJs and Jeep FJ Fleetvans.

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