A post in a Land Rover group on Facebook alerted me to this: the True North Collections Jeep Wrangler—described in TNC’s words as, “AN AMERICAN LEGEND REIMAGINED.”
Uh oh. Any time I see the word “re-imagined” these days, the first thing I think of is a ghastly tart job on some unfortunate, formerly workmanlike and practical classic vehicle: diamond-pleated, contrasting-stitched, distressed-leather upholstery, digitized (and leatherized) dashboard, video monitors in the headrests of the Recaro seats, extraneous exterior styling bits.
Usually you’ll find special badging embossed in the leather and/or displayed in bronze escutcheons on the fenders.
(There are exceptions. Singer’s glorious “re-imagined” Porsches reach a sublime plateau of craftsmanship and performance we might have expected had God spent the eighth day working on his personal 911. Another story entirely. But in general such projects have all the taste of a Middle Eastern potentate’s bathroom.)
My initial reaction to the TNC Wrangler—advertised as a 2017 model with only 400 miles on the odometer— was that for some inexplicable reason they tried to turn a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited into an original-version Land Rover Defender 110. Second reaction—same thing. The all-white U.N. paint job recalls the 500 limited-edition NAS 110s of 1993-1995. There’s the raised, Defenderesque roof with not one, but two Alpine windows, just so we get the point. folding, Defenderesque steps. The weird white solid-disk wheels, however, don’t very well replicate Land Rover Wolf wheels. De rigueur tail lamp brush guards are there. But, no checker plate on the bonnet?
Then there are the limb risers.
On all but a very few vehicles, limb risers (also called brush wires) are more or less the ultimate poseur accessory. They were originally designed for vehicles that had to push through extremely thick brush—think overgrown Central America rain forest. A few regions in the U.S. grow vegetation quickly enough that vehicles on a legitimate route might employ them effectively—narrow forest trails back east, for example. Otherwise, unless you’re driving somewhere you probably shouldn’t be, they’re strictly a fashion statement.
Look at these closely. Assuming an owner of a TNC Wrangler might actually take his vehicle somewhere limb risers might be necessary, I’m dubious that the flimsy looking mounting hardware would hold up to the stress of shoving chest-high branches and limbs up to roof height. And if it did? Take a look at the roof rack, which will function as a beautiful limb-catchment device, with a front mounting bracket a good three feet behind the front edge. Any limbs raised there would be stuffed into the gap between roof and rack, and either rip the rack off its mounts or rip bushels of branches off passing trees and leave them wedged in place. An automatic firewood-gathering device, perhaps? Let’s hope you didn’t pick up a fer-de-lance with the kindling. Additionally, the dinky Hella driving lamps perched atop the front bumper’s bull bar would either be ripped off as well or at the very least wind up aimed skyward.
There’s a winch in the bumper as well, but I can’t tell anything about it from the photos, and the TNC site is silent on its specs.
On to the interior, about which, sure enough, TNC says, “We took the stock interior and elevated it with bespoke vintage inspired brown leather leather.” (sic) The photos only show snippets, but I have to say this facet of the vehicle at least appears restrained and handsome—if you’re into leather upholstery in an overlanding vehicle. They also note “billet aluminum shifter, AC vents, and knobs to replace the original plastic.” (Have you ever thoughtlessly grabbed a billet aluminum shifter that’s been basking in the summer Arizona sun for an hour or two? I have.)
Obviously I’ve not seen this vehicle in person, much less driven it. But it’s fair to wonder about their target customer. A serious explorer, or just someone who wants the look and attention? Perhaps the final paragraph in the (consistently atrociously edited) pitch is a clue:
“Included with the sale of this Wrangler is our bespoke leather luggage option, and handmade bespoke key tag with the Editon (sic) # of the vehicle as well as a coffee table book with breathtaking imagery of this Jeep in city and mountain settings. There is no truck/suv on the market today, this unique and this much press (sic) anywhere in this price range.”
If you’re, um, interested, the True North Collections site is here.
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