What is the Jeep wave? According to UrbanDictionary.com the Jeep Wave is:
When two Jeep Wranglers pass each other on opposite sides of the road, one of the drivers initiates the wave and the other waves back symbolizing some sort of bondage between Jeep owners.
Mike Miller, March 26, 2005
It’s pretty obvious that the author of the definition never owned a Jeep or he would have noted the long history that surrounds the Jeep wave and the camaraderie associated with owning a Jeep.
There is no clear origin of the Jeep wave, but three possible theories exist. Let’s explore them.
World War II Jeep Wave
The Jeep made its debut in World War II as one of the most versatile vehicles of the war. It was during this time that the first Jeep wave was thought to take place. In war time saluting an officer would tip off the enemy who was in command. This made officers an easy target. It was thought that all Jeeps would wave as they passed as a method to keep the enemy unsure if the occupants were officers or not.
Returning G.I. Jeep Wave
After World War II, many of the soldiers returned to the U.S. with fond memories of the little Jeep that greatly influenced the war. It was these returning soldiers that first purchased the civilian models for home and farm use. These earlier Jeepers would wave at passing Jeeps due to the likelihood they both served in the war.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
It wasn’t until recently that Jeeps have grown in popularity. The introduction of the Wrangler Unlimited turned the cramped, rough riding Jeep into a vehicle capable of holding a family of five comfortably. Prior to this change only individuals that saw the Jeep for what it truly was, a vehicle that could go anywhere it wanted, drove Jeeps. The most popular Jeep wave belief was that Jeepers would recognize other Jeep owners with a wave to show camaraderie in owning such a great vehicle.
Why Some Jeep Owners Don’t Wave
I talked above about how the popularity of Jeeps have grown in the last few years. This growth is largely due to the 4 door Wrangler. More and more individuals are buying the Jeep, not for off-roading, but for driving to the mall and around town. The Wrangler Unlimited has become the new soccer van.
I’ve found that most stock Jeep owners, 2007 and later, will not wave unless they have modified their rig. I’ve also found that most older Jeep owners will not wave at newer Jeeps unless they know the other driver or see that the driver has used the Jeep for something other than picking up the dry cleaning. In my new shiny 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon I received only a few waves until I put on my steel bumper with huge stinger bar and a window sticker that reads, “Go Topless”. Now I get waves from other modified Jeep owners, but still ignored by the soccer moms. I’ve also found that I get more waves when I’m driving my no doors, rusty, beat-up 1988 Wrangler.
Keeping the Tradition Alive
No matter how the Jeep wave was started or what type of Jeep you’re driving, it’s important to keep this tradition going. So wave next time you see a Jeep driving by and take the time to educate whose owners who don’t know about the Jeep Wave.