There are some days when the world seems out to get you, others when the forces of the universe seem to align in your favor. A few weeks ago the winds of change were blowing at my back and pushing me exactly where I wanted to go.
I finished my master's degree and got a big promotion at work (I promise I will finish that story soon). As a reward to myself, I had my eye on the totally redesigned 2007 Jeep Wrangler (designation JK). I had a 1995 Wrangler (designation YJ) for a couple of years, but traded it in when the novelty of a convertible top in lieu of air conditioning wore off. In Florida, especially in the summer, A/C ranks right up there with food, water, and 24.
In September, the new JKs started arriving at the dealerships, and I started drooling. The first one I sat in was a hardtop "Unlimited" model (meaning it had 4 doors--a first for the Wrangler). Right away, I disliked the hardtop and waited until they had a soft top before I took one out for a test drive. That one had a much smoother, quieter ride than I remembered from my YJ, but something still wasn't right.
It was the door.
My old YJ had the half-framed doors, which meant that you could remove the top half for a real open-aired driving experience. Those top halves were canvas and the windows were plastic that zipped out, rather than rolling down. Most people are accustomed to a higher level of luxury than the traditional Jeep half doors allowed, and Jeep didn't even manufacture the half-door models at the start of their production run (the brochure says "late availability"—whenever that is).
I told the dealer to give me a call when they knew the half-door models would start arriving, and I would test drive one then. He took my name and number and promised to do so.
I saw on a Jeep rumors website that production of the half-framed door models was scheduled to start in February. That gave me a date on which to focus.
Meanwhile I was anxious. I received the slick product brochure in the mail, pouring over every detail. Which model do I want—X, Sahara, or Rubicon? Wrangler 2-door or Wrangler Unlimited 4-door? Which options? What would it cost? I spent more time on the pricing and configuration website than I spent at work.
In late January I had my optimal package picked out, so I printed the specs and drove down to the dealer. I was in luck! Later that week, Jeep would start accepting orders for Wrangler Unlimited with half-framed doors.
I would be the first person this dealership sold one to.
That Friday, I drove down to the dealership with my deposit in hand. The sales manager happened to be keying in my order when I got there. Six to eight weeks and the 4x4 would roll off the delivery truck and into my life.
Last Friday, A called our salesman at the dealership to ask if he had a better idea of when the Jeep would arrive. He looked up the order in the computer and discovered that it had been built last Wednesday (February 14th) and was waiting for a truck to pick it up. Weather in Toledo had been pretty bad, so they had a backlog of vehicles waiting for delivery, but it would only take three to five days to get here once it shipped.
I really can't think about anything else right now. Even though they have only been around for six months, I have found a ton of websites devoted to JK Wranglers. I have trolled the message boards and searched on Google images, but except for the promo shots from Jeep and the prototype that made the rounds at the auto shows, no one else has posted a picture of the half doors yet. There are absolutely no pictures of the top half of the half doors, not even in the brochure.
You just might see one here first.
Update (Wednesday 2/21, 11AM):
Those putzes at the dealership screwed up when they looked up my Jeep in the computer. Mine is still waiting to be built, this week or next, so it will probably be another two weeks. ARRRRGH!!!