There are certain groups of people whom you should always envy because they’re having more fun than you. This includes anyone riding a Sea-Doo, anyone who rented a beach cabana, and anyone driving a Jeep Wrangler with no doors.
Living in the temperate South, I see doorless Wranglers all the time. You know what? Those people are never frowning. They’re never sullen. They’re laughing and smiling and basking in the pure exuberance of door-free driving. “Look at all the boring people,” they say, “droning along in their sensible metal boxes, unaware of the sublime battle between sunlight and the slipstream to make your left leg warm or cool.” Or that’s what I imagine them saying. Because I’d never taken the doors off a Wrangler, until now.
I don’t own a Wrangler, and when I test one, I don’t typically want to embark on a project that involves wrenches. But with the latest Wrangler-the JL model-Jeep endeavored to make the door-removal process as easy as possible. The thing even comes with the tools you need right there in the center console. So, on an unseasonably warm winter’s day, I decided to set a timer and find out how long it takes to transform a Wrangler from normal car to street-legal tube-frame buggy.
The process is basically the same for the front and rear: Roll down the windows, remove the door check arm, unplug the wiring, drop the two hinge bolts, pull off the limit strap, and lift it free. It’s a simple process-but not entirely idiot-proof, as I discovered.
First of all, you need to remove the limit strap (which just slides over a hook inside the car) while the door is mostly closed, so that there’s enough slack to get the loop free of the hook. I spent some non-quality-time with the door completely off the hinges trying to figure out how to free the strap. Answer: take it off while the door is still on the hinges.
And the front doors have a different wiring harness than the rears. It’s more elaborate and uses a flip-down release. Before I figured out the mechanism, I managed to stab myself under a fingernail with a plastic tab on the connector, proving that I can bloody myself in even the simplest circumstances.
Once I solved the riddle-just flip down the white connector clasp-the other door was easy. All told, removing the first door took 11 minutes. And that was with zero prior knowledge. Jeep recommends you have someone help lift the door off the hinges, but if you can lift 47 pounds, you can do it solo. The smaller rear doors weigh only 34 pounds. And either way, you can sling the window frame over your shoulder as you carry it, like a snazzy gigantic metal handbag.
The subsequent doors took just five minutes apiece. I stored the bolts in the handy holster back in the cargo area, which has labeled holes so you keep track of your hardware. Next to the storage for the door bolts, I noted the one marked “windshield.” Only four holes there. Hmmm. Four bolts to drop the windshield? Maybe next time.
For now, I can confirm that driving a Wrangler with no doors is as much fun as it looks. It feels wrong, seeing the shoulder of the road blurring past in your peripheral vision-like you’re getting away with something. And maybe you are, driving around all doorless during a brief window of midwinter sunshine. But that’s okay. When you’re ready to rejoin the ranks of the sensible, you’ve got four doors waiting at home.
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