Forum member Alberto from Colombia has a 1989 Jeep YJ Wrangler built at the Brampton, Ontario, Canada Plant. "Brampton" brings back great memories, Alberto!
In 1988, the heyday of film photojournalism, I covered the Jeep Cup Rally Finals at Ontario. In those years, you could fly from the U.S. to Canada without a lot of fanfare (no passport required), and my flights took me from Southern California to Toronto.
I competed at 1987 and 1988 Jeep Cup Rally regional events as a media driver. 1987 was the first-year of the EFI 4.0L Jeep XJ Cherokee 4x4. My co-driver was Chuck Williams, and we drove a spanking new model from San Diego to Placerville, California. My resulting cover story for OFF-ROAD Magazine depicted the new Jeep YJ Wrangler negotiating a steep and rocky, wheel off the ground turn on a Sierra Nevada trail.
The next year, I did the Reno, Nevada Jeep Cup Rally Regional in a YJ Wrangler, scaling the rocks from Lockwood to Virginia City. Jeep® had just been acquired by Chrysler Corporation, and the rally finals would be held at Ontario, Canada. The finals included a visit to the Brampton Plant and chance to meet the enthusiast workforce that had come of age with AMC/Jeep® and now operated under the Pentastar banner.
Our driving route for the Finals was the wooded wetlands, old mining and logging roads and stream crossings above West Nipissing. The competition day began awkwardly when my open 35mm camera case fell unceremoniously out the door of a new Jeep YJ Wrangler...The driver, unaware that I was standing outside the vehicle and reaching for a lens in the camera case perched on the passenger seat, let out the clutch to merge our Jeep with the procession. I used Nikon FE2 bodies with a full lens complement, and all of this rolled out and across the ground. Quite fortunately, nothing but one relatively inexpensive UV filter received damage. This camera equipment lasted for many years after this shoot...
On assignment for three magazines, one in the U.S. and two abroad, made this a tight shoot. The country was rough, muddy and wet, and as the day unfolded, I forded icy streams afoot to catch memorable images, that eventually made covers and center spreads. One shot in particular captured a pair of controversial, square YJ headlamps that danced at the waterline of a swift moving north stream crossing. Following its magazine exposure, this color image came to life once more on the back cover of my Jeep Owner's Bible.
These were 4.2L Jeep inline six powered 4x4s that never missed a beat—with their Carter BBD carburetors! We drove similar Jeep YJs over the Rubicon Trail and at other Jeep Cup challenges. As new models, the carbureted 4.2L Wranglers proved their mettle on challenging and tough two-track trails.
The trip home from Canada was uneventful, though I did wonder about the images still undeveloped on Fuji 100 film. Those were the early years of X-ray baggage checks at airports, and our journalists' lead-lined film pouches got tested. There was no room for error with 3,000 miles of travel to the photo lab!
All turned out well, the three publications each got unique images from that bell-to-bell assignment. The Jeep YJ Wranglers did well, too, and the journalists and drivers enjoyed the many challenges. This all shined through on the pages of magazines across the globe.