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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Our tame fighter pilot wonders: Should this Jeepster be sent to the boneyard?

The first time I ever fired a missile from a moving plane was against an F-4 Phantom target drone. It was glorious and I walked around the house for a week making "Whoosh!"
https://www.hagerty.com/media/buying-and-selling/our-tame-fighter-pilot-jeepster-boneyard/
69 REPLIES 69
Bavarian
Pit Crew

Should be noted that Dick Cheney was the final executioner of the revised SR71 program. We still don t know what precipitated it , other than budget concerns.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Whatever the exact reason, it's still a tragedy!
buellerdan
Instructor

If you want to find out why.....follow the money.
farna
Instructor

It was simply an unneeded asset that took one hell of a lot of money just to get it off the ground. It really couldn't do anything that satellites and drones can't do now. I was a Search and Rescue controller on Okinawa in the late 80s. The "Habu" (what the Okinawans called the Blackbird -- after a deadly poisonous snake found on Okinawa, I think only there -- https://theaviationgeekclub.com/exclusive-the-story-of-how-iconic-sr-71-blackbirds-habu-logo-was-con...) was stationed there with the 9th Strategic Recon unit. I got to witness take-off preparations and eventual take-off of one. The prep took a crew of 20 or so (I forget exactly how many) doing all sorts of things. Prep had to start at least 30 minutes (look it up... I'm going from memory here!) before take-off to get fluids up to a temp they would flow at ambient temps (and it was hot and humid in the summer there!) and so the least amount of fuel leaked out (fittings and such had to have enough room for expansion at high temps/speed, so they all leaked!). There was an in-flight emergency and the runway was shut down for an additional 30 minutes or so while this was going on -- what a mess! Lots of wasted fuel and fluids as the team kept it ready to go as soon as the runway cleared Luckily the IFE wasn't much and the aircraft landed and cleared the runway, but there was still a hazardous mess to clean up -- the crew wasn't happy! After take-off the first thing an SR-71 did was meet up with a tanker to top off. Due to the leakage they only put enough on to take off and get to the rendezvous point (with a bit to spare in case of emergency, of course). Then it topped off and shortly after got up to speed. Those J58s drank fuel at low altitude/speed/take-off -- as noted, they were most efficient at high speed. It cost thousands just to get it in the air!!
CaptainRocket
Pit Crew

I was in the 44th AMU Vampires, 86-88. Loved watching, and hearing the Habu take off.
CitationMan
Gearhead

Oh man, I get your feelings on the Jeepster, I’ve been there with some old cars, but it’s like a family member at this point. I would put it in accessible storage for the next year, then see how you feel in a year. 

Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

That's an interesting idea, take a break from it and see where the relationship picks up afterwards...
petersalt
Advanced Driver

Actually, (though you never mentioned it..) sounds like there is a shortage of vehicle storage space at your hangar. Enlarge the garage .. or change houses to one with an existing big space. Gluck, you REALLY need to buy more cars rather than cut down.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

We have a military move coming up this summer, we'll see what that house brings garage-wise. Our current house is provided by Uncle Sam and has a 2-car garage, so our fleet spills over in the street. I'm guessing that will also be the case after our move. I agree though, more is always better!
DUB6
Specialist

I really enjoyed this story and the pictures. Tough decision to be sure - I'm currently in a similar situation regarding a family home that I first moved into in 1964 and has so-o-o-o many memories. First, congrats on the nice rebuild - it sounds and looks like a solid job, and the vehicle should be good for years to come. I'm inclined to think that the Jeepster should stay around for the daughters, but I get the idea that letting another family have time with it makes some sense. I think @CitationMan might have a reasonable idea: don't be hasty either way - regrets are there forever.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Glad to hear you enjoyed reading it and thanks for commenting!

The one thing I don't want to do here is be hasty. Without there being financial pressure I don't want to rush the decision for sure.
hyperv6
Racer

Owning collectible cars is an emotional thing. We generally buy the orvrestorevthem because they have become part of the family. There is no logic to it as they cost money but like how we keep dogs and cat we keep cars out of live not logic.

As for your SR 71. It is one of my favorite planes. But being in the military you should be aware it was not retired but replaced. There is a plane that is referred to under different names but never formerly announced. It’s pulse jet contrail has been photographed and for those who have witnessed it in the sky or radar were shocked at the speed it was flying. Not to mention the sonic booms over LA at 4 in the AM when returning. We should have a new favorite be it a SR72 or what.

As for the Jeep restoration was smart and I just hope as you pass it on later someone will keep it up and running for the future members in the family.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

My uncle has a 1996 4Runner that he bought brand new and runs as well as the day he purchased it. After he read this article he said that we should have a family car boneyard, but a boneyard that stores the vehicles so future family can enjoy them as much as we do.
JeepCJ5
Intermediate Driver

I enjoyed your article. I've been intrigued by the airplane boneyards out west and have wanted to visit them.

But now to the real point - please don't tell me you'd consider choosing to keep a 240,000 mile minivan over a restored sentimental Jeepster! It'd be different if it was a money based decision.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Well, I do have 5 children so a minivan makes a lot of sense, even if 3 of them kids are out of the house. I am surprised at how much I vacillate between selling the Jeepster and keeping it forever. Unless and until I emotionally remain in one of those camps (sell or keep) for an extended period of time, I'm not going to sell it. Better to keep it and be out $50 each month for insurance than rashly sell it and regret it!
Flashman
Technician

You have to love a guy who uses a word like saudade. I'm glad you're still contributing to Hagerty.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Thank for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it. The break from Hagerty, such as it was, wasn't due to Hagerty or Jack at all. Rather, we quite unexpectedly lost a family member on my wife's side of the family and priorities were understandably elsewhere. I'm glad Hagerty welcomed me back when I was ready and there are more stories in the queue.

Plus, I speak Spanish and German so languages and words are kind of a thing for me. My oldest was gifted a dictionary for their 6th birthday and they were over the moon excited, so I guess it runs in the family.
Spuds
Advanced Driver

It needs to go to the car guy/girl in the family.2,500 dollars with payments.Because you're an Uncle....🤠 👾 🤗

Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Love it!
pyrobirk
Pit Crew

I've never regretted selling a beloved car. There's always something else out there, and there's a lot of fun and enthusiasm that goes with a new project. I will say there are a few cars I've sold that I'd love to have back now (the '63 Bug I had in high school tops the list), but I wouldn't have wanted to have owned them all this time.
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

I wish I could be like that, as I'd love to own a '60 Comet.
Like my little brother asked: " If not now, when?". Well....It worked out very well for my two oldies but my wallet hates me now.
But a '60 Comet.... I keep dreaming.
It really is a sickness, Pyrobirk.
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

I am with you. If you made a thoughtful decision, the sale was the right thing to do at the time you did it. We can only drive them one at a time, and sometimes, collector cars aren't all that drivable, either, and they take up space.
Studenorton
Instructor

I thought the F-14 issue was well known. Iran operated them, and the US had to make sure that parts would *not* be available. Strong men wept.

When Danny Thomas was still with us ("Holy Toledo!"), and the Shriners was still a movement a lot of men would wait on a list to join, you'd have had a constant stream of guys wearing fezzes asking to buy that Jeepster. It was rite of passage in the Grotto, goofy guys doing wondrous things.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

Josh: Really enjoyed reading your "quandary " about what to do with your Jeepster! Being former military/aviation, I also enjoyed reading the aviation analogies as well. Some of your revelations caused me to burst out laughing, and in fact, I've decided to pull up and read all of your previous entries. Thanks for the interesting/enjoyable reads and your service! 🙂
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Glad you enjoyed this one and the other articles! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Punk
Instructor

Fun read! Thanks you. I would say that you will certainly miss the Jeep if you pass it on (as in sell, not junk), and we have all been there. I have sold cars that I miss but still know I did the right thing for the time. Hell I currently have 6 cars and am thinking about adding another. At least I have two places. But if the Jeep isn't costing you anything and you enjoy it, why shift it?
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Agreed on all counts. Despite all my vacillations, at the moment I don't intend to sell it. That said, we do have a cross-country military move coming up this summer and moving 5 cars isn't easy...
turbobill
Intermediate Driver

That's easy. Just buy a car hauler!
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

Creeping into the edges of my mind after 40 years with my '63 Valiant.
I won't attempt to calculate the money spent on this "throw away car" from the '60s.
But I choke at the thought of that and letting go.
Even replacing my 05 with something else causes great anxiety.
Maybe I'll wait and just get rid of some of my "collectible" junk instead. That's been bothering me more. Not forcing someone else have to get rid of it after I'm gone just seems like the right move.
BTW: I'm just down the street from the Davis -Monthan Boneyard. One right turn and down Escalante and I'm there.

Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

I hope you've gone and toured the boneyard, it's a very cool place!
97
Intermediate Driver

Josh. Great intro! A story unto its own.Wondered where you where going with it but didn’t really care.
My two cents would if you can afford the space and maintenance keep It! Got a feeling your kids will have a lot of great memories. Pass the torch
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

It's fun to keep the reader guessing, if only for a little while.

My kids love riding in the jeep and my daughter and I treasure the memories we have of working on it (I'd like her to get it eventually, but we'll see).
eDs70
Pit Crew

Boneyard? No way, it's the "Car Garden".
motolargo
Intermediate Driver

Great article! Thank you very much. In my humble opinion, the time to sell is when the vehicle does not get driven enough to justify the cost of license, insurance and maintenance. Another indicator that it's time to sell is that when you don't turn around for a fond look when you walk away from your car. The only advice I do have is that when you sell, pass it on to someone who lives as far away as possible. I recently sold my trusty old Honda Transalp to a neighbour. It was a lovingly maintained 30+ year old bike that looked and ran like a two year old bike. It took me many trouble free miles; even a trip to the Baja. It was lightly crashed in the first week of riding by the new owner. I drive by it about twice a week and it breaks my heart to see it sitting outside covered with snow. It will be junk by this time next year.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

That's solid advice and a tough frequent reminder on the Transalp. I've had some friends ask about buying it, but even if I were set on selling it I'd be reticent to sell to someone I know. Better to have it be long gone, I think, without a friend questioning every decision I made while restoring it.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Tough call. When we sell off one of our "children" we keep the memories (and hopefully lots of photos and video) but the buyer has purchased ownership of a new plaything as well as the right to cherish, abuse or neglect it. Personally I'd enjoy relating everything I could to an obsessed new owner but if it goes the other way you'd better be able to accept it. If you don't think you could, then yes selling to a distant buyer would be preferable. Have a Happy, Healthy, High Mileage New Year Everyone!

Spuds
Advanced Driver

My sale went great.Turned out my 97 was it,last year of the mechanical Cummins in my 4wd Dodge was my nephews dream truck,He is also a mechanic,replaced the 4spd auto with a 5 spd stick,Its better than it ever was and when he visits,in the snow because of what it is,I get to see it looking fine and hear it growling up the road.Just asked him to not paint it camo like he wanted and destroy its original value,which after owning it he saw why and original it remains,GREAT sale there,2,500 payments....awesome!
StanF512
Pit Crew

Don't sell...do a restomod, and make a vehicle that your wife will want to drive. Add a newer fuel injected drivetrain...add a coil or coilver suspension...add air conditioning...add tilt steering...add more comfortable seats with headrests...add seat belts with shoulder harness...
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

I've had those exact same thoughts!
Rick2
Instructor

I always liked the Jeepsters put out a price and email me!
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

My brother-in-law, who is single and owns more vehicles than my five, jokingly said this was the best For Sale ad he's seen in a while! I promise it wasn't written for that purpose, but you never know!
38Chevy454
Intermediate Driver

I have a similar vehicle. My 68 GTO, father bought new and he saved trading it off so I could drive it when I was 16. It was good shape, but at 16 my father and I rebuilt the engine (stock, numbers matching), and repainted it in orig verdoro green color lacquer. Then it was too nice to drive to college. I've had the GTO now for 42 years. I am going to pass it on to my nephew when I am no longer able to enjoy the car. It's in my will that specifically lists it as going to him.
So that's another option for you Jake, keep the Jeepster and then give it to a family member at some point in the future.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Loved the GTO story, thanks for sharing it and I think it's great you're going to pass it on to your nephew.
Gene_M
Detailer

You send that Jeepster to the boneyard, we're gonna send you to the boneyard! Happy New Year!
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

As well you should! Happy New Year to you!
0luke1
Pit Crew

I flew helicopters, but all Naval Aviators know that the minimum number of vehicles before classification as “frivolous” is one more than you currently have - and convertibles don’t count. It’s in NATOPS somewhere.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Definitely in NATOPS somewhere.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Josh is a far better writer than any fighter pilot needs to be.
Josh_Arakes
Advanced Driver

Thanks for reading and for the compliment! I'm glad you enjoyed it.