Jeep Wrangler

​"JeepⓇ is freedom, because it's the car that takes anyone anywhere"

Jeep Day 2019 brings together lovers and experts in São Paulo to celebrate the 4x4 spirit

April 12, 2019 - "In all the good memories I have in my mind there is a Jeep involved," says off-road accessory manufacturer Leonardo Almeida, 47, showing his tattoo with the jeep logo on his left arm as a present to himself on his 40th birthday. This passion love would come up on the skin, in the eyes or in the memory of all the fans who met at the Equestrian Club Santo Amaro in São Paulo on another Jeep Day, an international day celebrated on April 4, The Day of the 4x4.

Leonardo says that as a child, he accompanied his grandfather to the farm loading milk cans in the back of the family's Jeep. They were special moments, shared only between the two. When he turned 12, even without knowing how to drive, Leonardo got a Brazil Jeep Club ID card as a birthday present, where he always sought technical advice to reform the more than 20 models he has had over the years. "There I met some Brazilian off-road legends, made friends that I still have today and even chose my groomsmen for my wedding. It's a story that cannot be separated from me, just like your own child. That's why I wear the brand on my arm", he says.

Among the friends in the 'Jeep Clube do Brasil' is Nelson Almeida, 67, no less than the founder of the association. Unlike Leonardo, Nelson's story with Jeep began later when he was 22 searching for his first car. With little money available, he ended up buying a Willys MB 1944 (pictured below), the first Jeep, in an army scrap yard. It was 1974, a time when everyone was crazy for a buggy and Nelson decided to turn his classic Jeep into one of those models. But one book changed the whole story.

Nelson Almeida with his Jeep

"In order to reform the Jeep I purchased a book which was a volume from an entire collection about World War II but only featuring the Willys MB. It fascinated me and I realized I had one of those cars in my hands. That's when I decided to leave it as it was originally. And then, the rush to have a car was over, because it took me two years to finish the restoration", says Nelson, laughing.

During this period he met people who also liked Jeeps and who had transformed them into a lifestyle, aligning adventure, passion and companionship. That was when he decided to found the club. "The launch was during the Automobile Show of 1981, in the building where the 'Bienal' is held in the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo. That's how the 4x4 officially started in Brazil", says Nelson. The gusts for the Jeep Day in São Paulo were able to see Nelson's old Jeep, which now belongs to a collector.

 Fernando Cury with his 1972 Rural

A little of everything

Another rarity exhibited was the impressive 1972 Rural owned by businessman Fernando Cury, 54, who on a daily basis runs his Arab food. The car has been part of his family since his father got it, brand new, from the dealership. Completely restored, the Rural (pictured above) became an exhibition item, next to a 1954 Jeep Willys and another 1965, which Fernando also uses on a daily basis. He admits that he has "plastic cars" as he refers, with good humor, the current vehicles. "But I only use it on rainy days," he says. "I need to preserve my Jeep!"

While they enjoyed the exhibited cars and listened to the stories of all those Jeep lovers, the guests split up between an off-road test drive with the entire Jeep line and a miniature off-road circuit. Some people even found it more difficult to drive the remote controled cars on the mini circuit (pictured below) than the real vehicles. They also had the chance to see the new generation of Wrangler and the special series Renegade Willys and Compass S, released during the event.

 An obstacle course with small remote-controlled Jeeps

At the Mopar accessory brand booth, the artist Conrado Almada illustrated Jeep Wranglers to the liking of the guest. The orders went from a son's name to camouflaged engravings. The most unusual, says the artist, was an illustration inspired by the Disney movie Frozen. And, just like Mopar does on real cars, the orders were also done with care.

Journalist Karina Simões, 34, arrived at the event in her 1951 Jeep Willys she got from her father when she was only two. She says that since then, 62-year-old Toninho Simões – as he is known among jeep fans – has made several reforms to the model. "The last one, in fact, was done right in time for me to come to the event, that's why it still needs some adjustments", says Karina. As she has been writing about the about the automotive sector, Karina says that she left the tracks "due to a real lack of time", she explains laughing. She says that in the meantime she's using her Jeep through the city on a daily basis. She also loves to recall her participation in 2015, through an invitation fromJeep, in what is considered to be the "temple" of the world's off road: the Moab circuit in the United States. . "The city is the mecca of the off road. It was fantastic", she sums up.

João Barone

João Barone, the drummer for the band the Paralamas do Sucesso and Jeep lover was also there. This time he went on stage (pictured above) to talk about his adventures on his Jeep Willys MB 1944, similar to the one his father had during World War II as a fighter in the Brazilian Expeditionary Force – one reason that aroused his passion for the vehicle.

For him, more than a means of transportation, the Jeep symbolizes the inventions that came up due to the war, and then served for civilian purposes in times of peace. "In Brazil, even the brand is synonymous with pioneering. It was one of the first brands to be assembled here. First, it was used for military purposes and then to help bring progress to the hinterland. In addition, it is closely associated with the idea of freedom because it can take anyone anywhere. In my conception, the Jeep is the most rock n' roll vehicle of all". Coming from those who understand both music and Jeep, there is no doubt about it.

Words: Patrícia Büll

Pictures: Marketing

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