When I was a kid my cousin had a Wrangler YJ. 3 inch lift riding on 33’s with a spray can camouflage exterior, it was redneck royalty. In the summer we would take the doors off and rip around town with the radio blasting some CCR or Zeppelin occasionally dodging the law on an old access road in search of the next great party spot. To this day I’m amazed we didn’t get pulled over more often. I didn’t know it then but that was the beginning of a lifelong love of the Jeep brand.
Straight out of high school I purchased my first Wrangler. It was a white 2001 TJ. This thing was stripped down. Rug ripped out so the drain holes were easily accessible, no back seat, and the soft top wouldn’t zip closed completely. It was love at first sight. You never forget the first car you ever bought with your own money. Since then I’ve owned several more.
Now, if you’re familiar with Jeep culture you will have noticed that when two Jeep’s pass each other both drivers wave. The history behind this is a little muddy but the common belief is that during war time military Jeep’s would wave instead of salute when passing each other so as not to give away high ranking officials. Thus started a tradition still held to this day. A tradition that I’ve only noticed shared with one other culture, motorcycling.
I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was in short pants and had a hobby horse. I can remember my father taking my little hand and waving to passing motorcyclists as we circled my grandma’s block. Back then the wave was up high, not the two fingered salute that’s thrown low nowadays. When I bought my first motorcycle years later I remember how excited I became when another rider waved at me for the first time. You realize your part of a community.
Even though I don’t believe the motorcycle wave was born out of military origins, it was initiated as a sort of acknowledgement of solidarity against convention and the shared experience of being on two wheels. You could argue about which came first, the motorcycle or the Jeep wave but honestly I think that would be a waste of time. The first series production motorcycle to be made was Hildebrand & Wolfmuller (Motorrad) in 1894 in Germany. The first concept of the jeep was in 1940 when the Bantam Pilot was delivered to the US Army for consideration as a light 4X4 reconnaissance and scout vehicle. From 1941-1945 the Willys MB beat out Ford’s GP’s and Bantam’s BRC-40’s and became the military’s preferred vehicle. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
Now that I’ve probably lost you with my history lesson let’s get back to the point here. We are unique. Both motorcyclists and Jeep enthusiasts. Others have tried to imitate our culture but they are missing that time honored tradition. I believe the wave is rooted in respect and comradery. Hopefully, it will continue long after I’m gone. So when you see a motorcycle or a Jeep remember to wave!