by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
PHILADELPHIA — Most automotive shows around the country do a great job displaying anything, and everything, new that respective automakers want to show off.
That means bright lights, spinning stages and shiny vehicles with tires so black that you’d think they’ll never get dirty.
Employees with microphones, barking out information about this award or that top ranking. Other scurrying around with IPads, looking to snatch email addresses—promising to send out the latest vehicle sale or discount.
And yet, just a few steps down the hall, in a separate section of the Philadelphia Convention center, sits the New Jersey Jeep Invasion display area. A section that is every bit as scenic and powerful, as it is quiet.
The Philadelphia Auto Show is currently underway through February 17 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, and organizers estimate it should soar past last year’s 250,000 attendance number.
Every major automaker is represented and all kinds of vehicles are polished to perfection. Jeep even brought back its interactive 'Camp Jeep' experience that allows show attendees a chance to ride around a small obstacle course inside one of the brand's top vehicles.
For Jamie Longmuir, New Jersey Jeep Invasion's event manager, the show's attendance goals and experiences are nice and all, but he just likes having a nice display that catches attention.
”I didn’t want to just bring in a bunch of JLs or JKs and put them around here,” Longmuir said. “I think that would have been boring and I wanted something neat. Something memorable.”
The Invasion, now in its eight year, is held on the massive Wildwood, New Jersey beach in late June and attracts around 2,500 Jeeps for a weekend of fun under the sun, as well as a chance to interact with many of the industry’s biggest manufacturers and retailers.
On an cloudy and lukewarm early February afternoon, though, the Invasion was all about some scenic Jeep vehicles—both new and old.
First is a restored 1971 DJ mail Jeep with left-hand drive. That’s right, left hand. For a spell it was puzzling, until a letter carrier happened to stop by and explain that no, it was not a carrier's Jeep, but a supervisor one. They put left hand drive in those vehicle as supervisors did not need the normal right-hand set up for mail delivery.
Next is a modded-up Beach Patrol Firecracker Red Gladiator from a New Jersey dealership that is going to be featured on television in an upcoming Motor Trend show.
Third is a restored 1967 Jeepster convertible, complete with a power top, automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive. Not quite one-of-a-kind, but close. Longmuir said it is one of just 3,000 ever produced.
Then comes a granite crystal and red Spider-Man Jeep—a wild, modded up JKU complete with Spider-Man graphics that has proven to be a major kid-pleaser so far at the show.
”That is the one children just flock to and get their picture around or inside,” Longmuir said.
Finally, the last display may just be the coolest project at the entire Philadelphia Auto Show. It is a father-son project involving a completely restored 1943 Willys Jeep, as well as a child-sized Willys replica that are mirror images. The child-sized one is set on a John Deere body and even runs.
”They built the small one complete with a working engine,” Longmuir said. “It is really just an amazing project and all because a dad wanted to spend time with his son creating some memories.”
As far as the upcoming NJ Jeep Invasion, the show had to move dates this year because Wildwood is hosting a major Country Music festival during the Invasion’s normal June weekend slot. However, the date change to June 26-28 has only served to help the event, Longmuir said.
”Right now, it is definitely tracking higher than last year and we’re very excited about Invasion weekend,” he said. “It is always a great time and we invite everyone to come down to Wildwood for the event.”
For more information on the New Jersey Jeep Invasion, and to register, check out its website.