Hey everyone – Tom back here today, and today we are diving into the world of the Jurassic Park Motorpool. More specifically, today we will be having a chat with Rachel – another UK-based Jurassic fan who has endeavoured to build her own replica Jurassic Park jeep.
Before we jump into today’s article, I wanted to say a big thanks to Dan from JP20, who was kind enough to put me in touch with Rachel. I had a blast podcasting with Dan at Paradise Wildlife Park a couple of weeks back (Listen here: ) where we spoke all about the process of building a replica Jeep. Make sure to follow JP20 here: https://www.facebook.com/JeepJP20/
Without any further ado, let’s learn a little bit more about the process of making your own Jurassic Park or Jurassic World replica vehicle:
Hey Rachel – thanks for talking to us! Firstly, we’ll start off light – how did you get into the Jurassic Park series?
Like most kids, I went through my phase of being crazy about dinosaurs – just that mine coincided with the 1993 release of the blockbuster film Jurassic Park.
I was 10 years old and I begged my parents to take me to see it. We were on holiday that summer in the UK and we finally went. It was a single screen cinema in an old theatre, rammed full of people – but I was enthralled!
I had never seen such amazing CGI – seeing all my favourite dinosaurs ‘alive' and real! The character Dr Ellie Sattler became an instant hero for me – she was smart, athletic, brave and strong! Christmas came, and my sister bought me a VHS copy of Jurassic Park for my present – I practically wore it out (I still have that copy!).
So obviously, we are at the point where we have five films now – which is your favourite and why?
Obviously, the original has a special place in my heart and will always for me be the best. After that, I would say, for me, that it’s closely followed by Jurassic World. I loved all the nods to the original Jurassic Park film and thought it was a great reboot of the franchise. After that, I’d say The Lost World comes in third with The Fallen Kingdom coming in fourth. Both films had great points, but equally some very cringe-worthy moments!
It’ll come as little surprise to fellow JP aficionados, that Jurassic Park III gets my boobie-prize as the worst of all the films. Talking dinosaurs? Really? Not even the Spinosaurus could save that mess of a film!
Okay, so today we are talking specifically about Jeeps – and about making your own Jurassic Park Jeep. What made you want your own Jurassic Park jeep?
I always found the jeeps in the film to be really cool. I got into messing around with cars in the early 2000s and being a time served engineer means I'm mechanically minded. I started cosplaying Dr Sattler about 5yrs ago and the JP jeep is the ultimate cosplay accessory! So, I started looking for the right base car and one landed in my lap at the right time!
When we spoke to Dan from JP20, he was explaining the difference between going for full accuracy and going partly there. How far are you planning to go with your Jeep?
For me, it’s important to get my jeep as “screen accurate” as far as possible. I'm very picky about being as exact as I can be. My jeep is a UK right-hand drive car, the film cars are all left-hand drive, so that’s one, practical concession. With that said I’ll be converting my UK spec Jeep to have all the US lighting features etc. The position of the steering wheel will be the only difference I'm willing to accept!
Have you decided on a number you’d like to go with for your own Jeep yet?
Yeah, I'm going to make a JP18. There are 4 Jeeps featured in the Jurassic Park film:
JP10 driven by the vet who cares for the sick Triceratops
JP12 driven (and crashed) by Dennis Nedry and lastly…
Jeeps 18 and 29 which are used when the group arrive by helicopter on the island.
Jeep 18 is in the famous scene when Ian Malcolm, Dr Grant and Dr Sattler first see the Brachiosaurus. Being the jeep that Ellie rode in, naturally it’s the jeep I’m going to build.
So, you’re already very into your cars and mechanics – something which other prospecting Jeep owners may not be! How have those skills crossed over, and has this been the hardest mechanical project you’ve worked on yet?
I’m an engineer by profession and a mechanic in my spare time. I’ve rebuilt cars from bare shells on a few occasions and carried out several engine conversions. In that respect, building a replica JP18 is straightforward, as there is little mechanical work involved, in theory. I know plenty of Jeep builders who aren't mechanically minded but it doesn’t stop them achieving their goals.
Unfortunately, The Jeep has been testing so far; It's my first American made project car, so I've had to buy some imperial tools! None of my tools fitted properly!
Unfortunately, I’ve had to get into this project further than planned; A month after I got my jeep my boyfriend hydro-locked (water was sucked into the engine) the original engine while teaching me how to drive my jeep off road through some water.
Finding a replacement engine and getting it fitted has taken longer than I hoped. Jeep parts are not as common in the UK as they are in America. We had to track down someone breaking a Cherokee to source a replacement engine and then getting it fitted has taken far longer than I hoped.
What’s been the hardest part to acquire for your own Jeep so far?
Where to start! The YJ Jeep Wrangler wasn’t sold a lot in the UK at the time, so spares and information are difficult. Add to that a lot of the ‘screen accurate’ parts were only sold in the USA and that was 25 years ago.
Fortunately for me, being a car enthusiast (I love Japanese 90s cars) I'm used to going the extra mile to find hard to get optional or aftermarket performance parts. It’s an attitude you need to have when looking for those rare parts.
Instead of hunting for tuning parts in Japan, I’ve been hunting for decals, lighting, winches, doors and many other parts. Much of it has come from America, but I’ve also had luck through Facebook and having international friends connects us all in a way I’ve never known before.
I've been lucky to get my hands on the correct front and rear fog lights in America, 2 full sets of Jeep wheels (one set I found in Italy) and a pair of half doors all at fair prices. But, as I say, luck, contacts and charm go a long way!
Have you encountered any problems during the build phase thus far? How did you overcome them?
As I mentioned – the blown engine has put a big hold on things moving forward. I'm really looking forward to having jp18 back on the road in the coming weeks and then planning for the respray!
What is your key piece of advice for anyone looking to join the Jurassic Park Motor pool and get involved? How would you start off?
I think with any project, do your homework first! Research all you can, not only about the base car, but also the parts you’ll need to make it into your choice of movie car. Research the costs and challenges of running and maintaining your Jeep too; they’re all old cars now so need some TLC!
Keep in mind as much as we love these vehicles the costs can spiral very very quickly. Also, think about what you want to do with it once built; shows are fun but ultimately do it for your own enjoyment and build the vehicle for yourself.
The Jurassic park motor pool is a fantastic resource for information and friendship from all over the globe.
Lastly, where can people keep up to date with the activities of JP18?
Facebook is, as ever, the best place. I have a dedicated page set up on Facebook which documents the build process and keep you up to date on what I’m up to with the build. Head on over to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JP18UK/
So, there you have it, guys!
Building your own Jurassic Park Jeep can be a tough process – but if you are a fan who wants to go the extra mile and really bring your fandom to life, then it may be something you want to do!