The rough and tumble Jeep Wrangler has lineage in the war effort, but that doesn’t stop folks from trying to turn the utilitarian 4x4 into something it is not. Take this TJ Wrangler on eBay, for example.
The Wrangler is uniquely American, flat-sided, and simple. No amount of fiberglass, bondo, or paint can turn it into a sleek and art deco pre-war full classic. You can try, however—as Ballistic Automotive Designs did—but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
The listing for this gold TJ, which is arguably the best Wrangler, indicates that this conversion was done in the late ’90s. It had to have been done in the extremely late ’90s because it is a 1999 Wrangler. The much-lauded inline-six is backed by a three-speed automatic. While many car buyers tend to favor a manual transmission, Jeep buyers rarely seem to care, since automatics are often the preferred choice off-road.
However, in the 44,000 miles that this custom has covered, it certainly hasn’t been off a paved road. The ad even says as much. It has been strictly a show car with its current owner. This leads to the big question—why?
Why take a highly capable offroader and neuter it, turning it into a mall-crawler? Actually, mall-crawler isn’t even the right term since there is no lift or chunky tires. It seems an odd choice to take an iconic and timeless design and tack on enough ’glass to attempt to change the silhouette.
I couldn’t find any information on Ballistic Automotive Designs (aka B.A.D.). The company has seemingly closed up shop. The ad states that 500 of these kits were created, which seems like a massive number to me. The TJ Wrangler stands a chance to be a true classic, but one that has been modified in this manner might be the last to appreciate, although the bidding is proving me wrong.
Replicas of pre-war cars exist. Good replicas. Ones that offer a significant portion of the experience from the vehicle that is desired. This is an extremely well-done body kit—that replicates nothing.
Maybe I’m just confused. This might be a gift to the automotive world. If you believe it is, please explain why in the comments below. I’m genuinely curious.