WARREN, MICHIGAN – Everyone should own a Jeep once in their life. It should be mandatory, like elementary school, or driver’s licenses. Quite simply, a Jeep is a Jeep. There’s no mistaking one on the road. And driving one? You have to experience being behind the wheel to understand.
For Krista Kunkel, aka the Michigan Jeep Girl, owning a Jeep has opened up an entirely new world for her. The Jeep passion began the day she bought her ’98 Wrangler six years ago, and continues to grow this day. Krista has even tattooed the iconic image on her hip.
But the experience goes beyond the aesthetics.
Driving a Jeep is entering in a whole community of people. Every time you drive by another they wave to you. I think the best word to describe owning a Jeep is, Camaraderie.
Happy would be another word. Generally people choose a car that reflects their personality, whether subconsciously or not, and Jeeps project happy, don’t you think?
In getting to know Krista, it’s clear how important an uplifted state of mind is for her.
I try to take a positive experience out of every situation. I believe every hand you’re dealt offers you a learning experience, and if you choose to accept it, you will progress in life.
The twenty-five year old, who grew up with a backyard mechanic dad, didn’t develop an interest in mechanics herself until a not-so-great experience at a shop.
It really hit a home run when I had an issue with my Jeep and took it to a local place and they treated me like an idiot female. I was so mad they wouldn’t actually come see what I was talking about, I took my Jeep home and got on the Internet. There is a whole community of information online at the tip of your fingers about stuff that pertains to Jeeps.
I think my Jeep and I are a lot alike. We are both versatile. The thing with Jeeps is you can change whatever you want. It’s a real-life transformer toy.
And transform her stock Jeep, she did.
THE WORK DONE SO FAR
- 35 Km2 Mud tires on black soft 8 wheels
- Truck Lite Headlights
- Custom front steering
- Durango box
- 4 inch RC lift kit with a 1.25 body lift
- Rancho shocks
- Custom front made bumper
- Poison Spyder crusher corners
- Poison Spyder Rocker knockers
- Smittybilt rear bumper/tire carrier combo
- Rampage frameless soft top
- Bestop full soft doors
- Ebay front fender flares
- Smash hole motorsports LED lights
- Sandblasted frame and custom fixed & new paint job.
As you can see, Krista has primarily focused on appearance. In the beginning, it was all about BIG for her. Lots of lift and BIG tires. Now, she better understands the importance of performance .
If I knew back then what I know now, I would have saved ALL my money and researched everything better.
But that’s all part of the learning curve. Most of us have those same frustrations with decisions we made early on, like why the hell didn’t I strip the inside of my ’48 Ford’s tailgate before clear-coating? Anyway…
Krista’s knowledge has come a long way since she bought her Jeep six years ago.
This girl is more than another pretty face; she’s someone who works hard and pushes to learn as much as she can, someone who doesn’t believe in getting something for nothing.
I have never expected anyone to do anything for free and have paid people to teach me. That’s the thing other ladies should ask for. They should ask to be taught how to do something, not to hope someone will do it for them.
Krista’s Jeep is also not just a pretty face. Her Jeep does what it was intended to do:
You get this sort of adrenaline rush and you kinda tip toe into the first obstacle. We have a saying in the Jeep world that the skinny pedal is NOT your friend. I know what my Jeep is built to handle and what I need to watch out for with running these tires on a stock axle set up. Just because you lift them, doesn’t mean they are ready for everything out there. I could easily blow my rear axle out with the tires I’m running if I go too hard.
Living in Michigan gives Krista close proximity to some of the best off roading in the country, with gorgeous woods full of hidden gems, logging history, ghost stories, and plenty of ORV trails. Plus, it’s a pretty quick jump to get “Up North.”
The good thing about Michigan is you can drive North and find legal trails to drive on and be able to come home the same day without getting too wild and busting up your rig.
Being a Jeep girl is living a life of adventure and exploration. For Krista, the key to her happiness is simple:
I like Jeeps and I like to laugh.
Keeping up with Krista:
- In her effort to spread the knowledge and to further her own, she has started a You Tube channel dedicated to helping other Jeep Girls, or “JeepHers,” where she’ll post videos from the basics and up. (youtube.com/MichiganJeepGirl)
- You can also follow along on her Facebook Page, MICHIGAN JEEP GIRL, Instagram, and Twitter @Mjgbuild!
Until next time…