Days after I’d posted a story lamenting the fact that AMC’s groundbreaking Eagle is harder to find on the used market than I’d hoped, I got a call from just the person I needed. George Parsons owns and operates Montana Overland and the vast inventory of Jeep Ranch, which has kept some of America’s favorite 4x4s on the road for 30 years.
The Jeep Ranch has been in Montana for 27 years, which coincides roughly with George’s full-time investment in the Jeep parts business. Before that, George, who runs the ranch with his son Chad, had lived in Florida. George told us that he and Chad had initially concentrated on the wagons and pickups built by Willys that expanded the Jeep brand shortly after WWII. Their collection of Willys eventually expanded to include those vehicles’ Kaiser successors, the Wagoneer and Gladiator/J-Series pickups. AMC’s unibody SUVs joined the mix soon afterward, with XJ Cherokees and ZJ Grand Cherokees arriving at the ranch in droves as they, too, developed a following.
“We go all the way back to 1947. The newest thing we’ve got is an ’05 Jeep Liberty,” George told us. On the other end of the availability spectrum, the Parsons simply can’t find enough inventory to be viable when it comes to Commandos, Jeepsters, and forward-control Jeeps. It seems those vehicles spend more time on display than they do in use; George notes that there’s much less demand for parts: “They don’t wreck ’em fast enough around here.”
What about Eagles, though? George was in the process of acquiring another low-mileage AMC wagon to add to their aviary, which includes more than a dozen of the innovative, all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive runabouts. “We’ve got 12 that we know of,” he says. “Because I keep buying them, we lose count.” However, those dozen-or-so Eagles are in the minority, when it comes to cargo-haulers: “We have in excess of 350 wagon and pickups,” George says.
The Eagles that George shared with us were all of the four-door variety, but we also love the rakish two-doors.
After all this time in the used-Jeep and Jeep-parts businesses, George says he’s considering selling off all the trucks and SUVs so that someone else can help keep them on the road. There’s enough inventory to split Willys pickups/wagons, the Gladiator pickups and Wagoneers, and the XJs and ZJ into separate businesses.
In the meantime, George says that sales have been pretty good recently: “Everyone’s working on their Jeeps because they’re stuck at home.” Getting a vintage Jeep back up and running certainly seems like a worthy use of time to us. After all, there are few better ways to social distance than taking your Jeep off-road.