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#VanLife Has Become Immutably Popular

Jeep Van Wrangler
Screenshot from @samirscustoms via Instagram

In the middle of the 20th century, Jeep sold the Forward Control, or Jeep FC for short. At the time, it shared engineering with CJ-5, and its goal was to be a versatile commercial vehicle, offering a short turning radius and large cargo bed size thanks to the compact cab-over design. They could be found in all sorts of configurations, from pickup trucks, to response vehicles, to vans. These little work horses may not have been “Trail Rated” at the time, but it doesn’t change the fact that at one point, Jeep was part of the van life.

And that seems like the next wide open opportunity for the Jeep brand. There’s no denying that van customization for overlanding and off-road use has sprouted up in recent years like an uncontrollable sprawl of wild mint. But much of it is concentrated into the aftermarket, where third parties upfit everyday work vans into go-anywhere machines complete with stoves, beds and showers.

Jeep Van Wrangler
Screenshot from @samirscustoms via Instagram

So, will Jeep make an overlanding van? We asked a senior brand manager for the brand, and here’s what he had to say:

“I can’t talk about future product, but at the end of the day we’re not going to make a minivan. Whatever we did in terms of future product, it’s still going to be a Jeep,” said Brandon Girmus, senior brand manager of the Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. “It’s still going to be off-road capable. It’s still going to be Trail Rated. It’s still going to check all those boxes. We’re always looking for new ideas, and new places, and new directions we could take the Jeep brand. We’ll have to see what we come up with next.”

Earlier this year, a rendering of a modern Jeep van sparked the curiosity and attention of the blogosphere and social media. Imaginations were left running wild, but so far, the existence of an official Jeep van remains absent from the brand’s product portfolio. We imagine, however, that it won’t be for much longer.

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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