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Buyers Are Swapping One American Icon For Another

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler continues to be instantly recognizable all over the world as time goes on, thanks to legendary off-road capabilities and a recognizable design language over the decades that the nameplate has been in service. It also feels like every time Jeep rolls out a new generation of the Wrangler, the brand might as well have won the Super Bowl. It’s the Wrangler that the entire Jeep brand orbits around, and it continues to retain customers in the fold, along with bringing in a few new faces.

Recurring customers for the new JL Jeep Wrangler are, of course, “primarily JK owners,” according to Jeep North America Director Scott Tallon. But then he mentioned a bit of a surprise customer: people willingly trading in their iconic American muscle cars/pony cars.

“The pony cars… a lot of them got traded in. Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even our Dodge Challenger,” said Tallon in an interview with MC&T.

The pony car/muscle car segment consisting of the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang has taken a dip in sales over the past few years, and it would be huge if the Wrangler was some sort of reason as to why.

It’s actually in all likelihood that this trade-in phenomenon perhaps points to something outside of the myopic spreadsheets. After all, the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger and Wrangler all have something in common: they are American icons. They’re lifestyle vehicles. They’re discretionary. Buyers don’t need them, they want them. They want these vehicles for the Americana: a style and personality that only these vehicles can deliver. Additionally, there’s another data point that drives this notion home. And that is in regards to full size trucks.

Jeep Wrangler Willys

“Continuing a trend we’ve seen for years was trade-ins from full-size pickup truck buyers… Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado,” said Tallon. While these vehicles are more utilitarian than the muscle cars, they share the same archetype as with the Jeep Wrangler.

As for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, trade-ins for these vehicles have largely been mid-size and full-size truck trade ins, according to Tallon. High on the list is the Toyota Tacoma, and then the Chevrolet Colorado.

Will the 2021 Ford Bronco have the same effect on the American icon market? We won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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