There are very few contemporary vehicles to which the term timelessly cool can be applied, but the 2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th anniversary edition is one of them. Sure, purists will point out that the civilian Jeep first manufactured in 1945 was the CJ-2A, not the Wrangler, which was launched in 1986. But however you slice it and whatever you call it, the Wrangler, in all its four-wheel-drive, stripped-down simplicity, is a direct descendant of the legendary CJ, and it’s still the most bang-for-your-buck bad-ass utilitarian vehicle you can get. Think we’re being overdramatic? Name another ride with the same kind of history that you can buy for about $24,000 (base model) and that holds its own both in rural Texas and on Rodeo Drive.
The fact that the Jeep (originally called the Willys MB) began as a basic mode of transportation for U.S. troops in World War II is the foundation of its decades-long cred. The association isn’t just historical: In 2006, Wrangler production moved to the same Toledo, Ohio plant that assembled the military Jeeps.
Under the hood, the specialty Jeep is equipped with the same 3.6-liter V6 engine found in other Wranglers, and it puts out a hearty 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. For the most part, its performance features are the same as on standard models, aside from some extra off-road equipment.
But most people aren’t going to challenge the beefy four-by-four’s capabilities. It’s on the aesthetic front that this special edition shines: The most arresting elements can be found in such details as the low-gloss bronze accents and commemorative badging, especially when paired on a “sarge” green model—just one of six color options for the limited-edition Wrangler. These customizations push the starting price well past the entry level, to $34,675 (as listed for the two-door model). But considering the 2016 Wrangler is one of the last models to be built on Jeep’s popular JK platform, which will end its decade-long run in 2017, you can justify the expenditure as an investment in a collectible. And with Jeep’s rich backstory and outstanding performance, no one will challenge your thinking.