The word “jeep” started out as army slang for any military vehicle and came from the initials GP, which stood for “General Purpose”. It wasn’t until 1940 when the first Jeep with a capital J was manufactured – a lightweight, 4x4 vehicle that shared many traits with the modern Jeeps we all know and love.
Jeeps may have started life as a World War II military vehicle, but it wasn’t long until someone spotted their commercial capabilities. The first Jeep went on sale to the public in 1945. This was the CJ or Civilian Jeep, made by Willys-Overland, the company which eventually became known the world over by the name of its most successful vehicle: Jeep.
Owners of modern Jeeps may owe a great deal to the vehicle’s humble origins, almost eighty years ago, but they have also made sure that their own jeeps are very much creations of the 21st century. Along with the improvements that Jeep has made to the appearance and engineering of their vehicles, many Jeep fans like to put their own personal spin on their jeeps, adding modifications which either improve the vehicle’s performance or, more frequently, its appearance.
Some of these colourful and creative mods have contributed to the Jeep Wrangler, the modern incarnation of the military jeep, recording its best ever sales. Which of the 19 mods below would you consider for your Jeep?
19 Oversized Rims
If you’re not that interested in making your jeep off-road ready but do want it to look super cool as you drive it on your morning commute, then you don’t even need to worry about leaving room for heavy tires.
Oversized rims allow you to focus much more on the style than the substance of your wheels, as the jeep’s high suspension leaves you a lot of room to play with. You could even go for something like those on the vehicle pictured above, with lots of shiny chrome hubcaps on display. Pair it with a colorful custom paint job, and you can easily see how jeeps are fast becoming some of the most stylish as well as the most practical vehicles on our streets.
18 Custom-Designed Vinyl
Custom paint jobs are popular with jeep owners. Whether you want to paint your vehicle in an unusual and striking color or you have an image in mind that you want to include, the jeep’s bodywork makes a great canvas to show off your creative ideas.
Paint isn’t the only medium which you can use to decorate your jeep. Wrapping cars in custom-designed vinyl may have been around for years, but it is only recently that much of the science has been perfected to the extent that the finished product looks as good as the vehicle pictured above.
When done well, vinyl wraps look just as good as custom paint jobs, and the processes involved mean that you can create much more complex designs for a lower price.
17 Vinyl Decal
If you can’t afford to wrap your whole jeep in patterned vinyl, or if you feel a whole-body design is a little ostentatious, you could always use a vinyl decal to make your vehicle stand out from the crowd and to display your own sense of style.
Decals can be as small or as big as you want them to be, and can demonstrate a sense of playfulness or a serious attitude toward the jeep lifestyle.
Who knows whether the owner of the jeep above, with its eye-catching tyre tracks decal is one of the former or the latter? There is literally no limit to what design you can choose for your decal, including what colors you would like to include. Let your imagination run wild!
The classic military jeep was a very basic vehicle with an open roof and sides to enable passengers and kit to be transported easily and relatively comfortably. Lots of people who buy modern jeeps also go for this open-top option, especially if they are lucky enough to live in a warm climate!
You can go for the stripped-back bare metal roll bars if you want to keep your jeep looking mean and edgy, or go for padded roll bars, as in the image above, for a softer, more appealing look.
Adding roll-bars to your jeep doesn’t just make it look good, either. They are also an additional safety feature, important whether you are only driving your jeep on roads or if you are planning to take it off-roading.
15 Spiderweb Shade
Of course, while keeping your jeep open stays true to the vehicle’s original design, it does leave both driver and passengers at the mercy of the elements. Wet weather might be the first problem that springs to mind, but sunshine is just as much of an issue. Who wants to have a jeep road trip ruined by the discovery that everyone on board has been badly burned by the sun?
It is easy enough to modify your jeep so that you can enjoy some shade without making any permanent change to your vehicle’s cool open-top design. Spiderweb shade is one of the most popular ways to achieve this; shades designed especially for jeeps which allow you to keep your cool even in the hottest temperatures.
14 Soft-Top Roof
If you like the idea of having an open-top jeep but live in an area where you would only get the chance to use it in the height of summer, there is a way to have the best of both worlds.
It is possible to modify a regular jeep to give it a soft-top roof, thereby offering passengers protection from the scorching sun when it’s needed. When it isn’t, you can simply roll it back and stick it in the trunk, transforming your regular jeep into something resembling the old-school military vehicle which inspired it.
You even have different options to choose from when selecting your soft-top, including whether to have shaded or clear “windows” and whether to choose a rectangular shape as above for more storage or a more stylish, angled rear windscreen.
13 Rock Sliders
Proud jeep owners often face a difficult choice, especially if they have spent a lot of money on modifying their vehicle’s exterior appearance. After all, jeeps are designed for off-road use, and are you really getting the most out of yours if you only ever ride it up and down the highway?
Off-road use often leads to damage, especially around the wheels and chassis of the jeep. One way to protect your pride and joy is to fit rock sliders, as on the jeep above.
These are not only a stylish way to finish your jeep’s exterior mods, but they also serve a practical purpose – they protect your vehicle's paint job from scrapes and scratches. The larger models can also act as a step to help passengers get on board.
12 Custom Bumper
It isn’t just the paint on the side of your jeep that could do with a little added protection, especially if you’re planning on heading off into the wilderness. After all, it is the front of your jeep which will bear the brunt of any bumps and scrapes from immovable objects in your path!
Jeeps come standard with a basic bumper, but one of the simplest and most effective modifications you can make is to install a custom bumper on the front of your jeep to protect the paint job on your hood and your front headlamps.
A tougher bumper is also important in the event that your jeep gets stuck. Standard bumpers aren’t always strong enough to withstand the forces needed to tow a jeep out of the mud!
11 Lifted Suspension
Jeeps and lifted suspension go hand in hand. The solid framework and chassis on these tough vehicles lend themselves to structural modifications. You know that you can tinker quite drastically with the suspension on a jeep, safe in the knowledge that the changes won’t have a significant negative impact on performance.
It is worth being aware that some states have rules about changes to vehicles’ suspensions, restricting the amount by which they can be lifted.
For example, in Georgia you are only allowed to lift the factory suspension by a maximum of two inches, in Illinois by a maximum of three inches, and in Connecticut by 4 inches.
Make sure you check local laws before spending your cash on changes to your jeep’s suspension.
10 Grab Handles
Even with the strongest will in the world and the best modifications, it’s not always going to be a smooth ride when you take your jeep off the main roads. Grab handles are a great internal modification to make things more comfortable for your passengers, and are also a great way to personalize the interior of your jeep.
Metal handles, usually affixed to the chassis at the window, are perhaps the most common type, but you can go for a much more fun and colorful option by choosing elasticated grab handles like the ones pictured above. As well as looking brighter, they also are a lot more flexible than the metal handles, which means that they are less likely to cause any injuries than the fixed-in-place metal variety.
9 Custom Wheels And Tires
One of the perks of driving a jeep is that it is a vehicle ideally suited to custom wheels and tires. These can be purely cosmetic – think rims and hubcaps – or more of a practical change, allowing you to get off the beaten path and enjoy exploring the natural world from behind the wheel of your jeep.
Some custom tires, however, allow you to make your jeep more robust and more beautiful all at the same time.
Rugged Ridge is a company which makes some of the most popular jeep wheels on the market; wheels which look great paired with chunky off-roading tires. Whatever color and style you want for both your wheels and your tires, this is a fantastic and very practical way to modify your jeep and to make it your own.
8 Window Decals
Decals are just for a jeep’s body, either. There are lots of other places on your jeep where you can express yourself with some creative and imaginative decals or stickers. Bumper stickers might suffice for drivers of ordinary cars, but when you have those big, expansive jeep windows to play with, you might as well think of them as your canvas!
You have to be careful that any tinting or decals that you apply don’t make the window too dark or obscure your view of the road, or you’ll run afoul of local law enforcement.
Those rectangular windows are ideally shaped for an American flag decal. What better way to show your love for your country while at the same time making your jeep look cool?
7 Interior Accents
Make sure you don’t neglect the interior of your jeep when it comes to making modifications. There’s lots of space inside a jeep for you to personalize and make your own. This can mean anything from installing a new stereo system to fitting interior accents like those in the picture above. These accents add a splash of color to the interior dashboard and wheel of your jeep. Any color goes! You can opt for a bright and breezy pink - like this driver - or a more sophisticated electric blue, or even the always popular sports car red.
Color isn’t the only choice you can make for interior decor; there are even wood-effect accents which you can install in your jeep if you want to give the interior a more vintage feel.
6 Colorful Upholstery
Don’t neglect the upholstery when it comes to making modifications to the interior of your jeep. Customizing the seats in your vehicle doesn’t just have to be about making them more comfortable – although a bit of extra padding doesn’t go amiss when you’re driving off-road!
Just remember that the inside of a jeep is quite an enclosed space. You don’t want too many colors and patterns that clash or you’ll end up with a headache every time you drive.
You can also play around with different colors, patterns and even textures when it comes to the upholstery inside your jeep. There is also nothing to stop you from fitting in a colored carpet, as long as you’re OK with it getting covered in mud after a long drive in the country.
5 Foot Peg To The Exterior Of The Jeep
If you’re a big fan of keeping your jeep looking as close to the original military vehicle as possible, then the first thing to do is to get rid of the doors! Doorless jeeps are particularly popular in coastal towns where you can drive them to - and even on - the beach.
If you’re removing your jeep's doors, you need to remember to remove and reapply the side mirrors, as your modified jeep isn’t road legal without them.
Another fun modification you can make to doorless jeeps is to add a foot peg to the exterior of your jeep so that you have somewhere to rest your foot as you roll along the highway. Not only will you feel cool while you’re doing it, but you’ll look pretty stylish as well!
4 Light Guards
Light guards are a pretty common sight on jeeps – even those which have never before been off-roading. If your jeep does go off-road, then light guards offer some protection to your headlamps so that they don’t suffer any accidental smashes while you’re piling up and down rocky mountainsides.
They can also be a neat way to add a touch of your own personality to your jeep; you can buy flower-shaped light guards, Star Wars light guards and even - as shown in the image above - Batman light guards, perhaps the kind of thing Bruce Wayne would have on his jeep? Just make sure you have plenty of actual light through the guard or you could end up causing a smash rather than preventing it.
3 LED Lights
Why stick with boring, old, ordinary lights in your headlamps when you can modify your jeep to use jazzy new LED lights? Not only are they better looking and much brighter than regular lights, but they are also much more efficient, easier to maintain, and longer-lasting.
In fact, an LED light can last for up to 11 years!
You can get more colors and even install LED lights elsewhere on the jeep than in the places you might expect. Take some inspiration from the modifications in The Fast and The Furious movies if you want to go really bright and colorful, but make sure you follow the rules about customized lighting if you don’t want to incur the wrath of the cops.
2 Roof/Roll Bar Lights
One of the most unconventional places where you can put lights on a jeep is on the roof. If you don’t have a roof, then the roll bar which runs along the top of your windscreen will do. These lighting rigs are not always legal on roads, but they can come in very handy when you’re driving off-road at night, when ordinary headlamps just won’t cut the mustard.
You can choose between something like the image above, a row of bright LED lights, or even go a bit more old school and stick a couple of big spotlight lamps up there.
As far as road legality goes, you should be ok having lighting rigs on your jeep as long as you don’t use the lights when on main roads. You will need to make sure that the two lighting systems be can operated independently.
1 Customized Knob On The Stick Shift
Some of the modifications on this list could end up being quite expensive, while others require mechanical knowledge and skill if you were to try and carry them out yourself. If you want to keep it simple, however, there are plenty of personal touches you can make to your jeep that cost only a few dollars, and which even the most mechanically challenged can do for themselves at home.
One such modification is to personalize your stick shift by adding a customized knob – something which reflects your own style, such as the macabre skull in the image above. There are plenty of different options, however, if you have a brighter outlook on life. The world is your oyster, and there are lots of these stick shift knobs on the market.s
Sources: www.etymonline.com, www.kaiserwillys.com, www.jeep.com, www.cnbc.com,