Using An Older Daily Driver

It takes a certain commitment to use an antique car as a daily driver; something akin to self flagellation. Saying there are trials and tribulations doesn't even come close. Every day wondering if the car will start? What might break next? Will I get to work and back home in the evening? Most importantly; what AM I thinking? I MUST be insane.

My insanity revolves around a 1997 Jeep Wrangler. Not really an antique as it's only 13 years old, but as it's somewhere in the neighbourhood of 160,000 miles it's rather long in the tooth. I drive it all winter as it's better in snow than any other vehicle I have and as of summer the list of projects is getting longer on a regular basis. I've recently been focusing on "optional" projects, like having a new carpet installed and having heat added to all three seats.  I also had my driver's seat mounted back about three inches so I have more leg room (the challenge of being 6'7" tall).  From the ice storm in December 2008 I got a rip in the ragtop, and while I have acquired a new top, I have to get the mounting clips for it so I can install it. So many little details to attend to and I know I've only really just begun.

There are also, of course, the issues of regular maintenance.  The brakes are still good, but getting a little old, so I expect some work there soon.  The compressor for the A/C is dead, but fortunately I really prefer to just take the door tops off and have free air flow anyway; I'll have to fix it some day, but at least it's not critical.

Once I have attended to the necessities, I have to think about what modifications I want. Certainly I want a lift kit and larger tires (the stock tires are _so_ minimal) and some more security consoles inside so the Amateur Radio equipment is secure as well as storage for recovery straps and the like. Then there are the front and rear bumpers (and a reasonable tire carrier). Oh, the list of projects is rather long and

So what's actually necessary and what's just a want? I suppose that's the real question when approaching the concept of using an older vehicle for a daily driver. Attending to safety and comfort is certainly of primary concern. After that I just wait and see how long the money lasts before the projects must simply wait until later.