The Jeep Wave

Posted on: 2015-10-17

The Jeep Wave

The Jeep wave – a common courtesy extended between Jeep owners that acknowledges the mutual respect for each other’s ride. It’s a gesture signifying the realization of the true capabilities of a Jeep. Since purchasing my ’99 Wrangler, I’ve made a point to wave at as many other Jeeps as possible. But where did it all start? I had always assumed it was military tradition, so I looked in to it and found this interesting story on bham-jk.

The Jeep Wave – This History Behind it:

New Jeep owners soon discover a tradition that has been around perhaps as long as Jeeps, the Jeep Wave. Some may think it strange or even silly, but before you judge perhaps take a moment and consider this:

During World War II the Jeep was always on the move, often running back and forth from the front lines delivering vital supplies or urgent messages, or to carry wounded soldiers, attempt rescues or bring reinforcements. Some say this is where the Jeep wave began as a way to know friend from foe or to acknowledge an officer without a salute that might alert enemies of a high ranking official. Or perhaps it was just a simple gesture from soldiers in one Jeep to another Jeep as they passed. A sign of camaraderie and respect between courageous souls in dark and dangerous times.

Other’s say the Jeep wave began after the war when the soldiers returned home. During the war the Jeep had earned a place in the hearts of many soldiers and as a result, many of those who made it home, wanted to own their own Jeep. Often the drivers of Jeeps passing on roadways would wave at each other, as they knew most likely each other had served.

Finally some claim the wave began only when civilians started buying Jeeps and taking them off road. The shared fun and excitment of tackling seemingly impossible trails and obstacles in the nimble Jeep, naturally builds a kinship with other Jeepers. The wave acknowledges that shared understanding and appreciation of the Jeep’s amazing capabilities and the enjoyment ownership can bring.

So next time you see a Jeep, give a wave and if you don’t get one in return, don’t be offended, just consider it a wave for the ‘One and Only Jeep’ and what it represents, our freedom and the brave souls who fought for it.

Some other groups, like, like to extrapolate the wave a bit further:

The Jeep Wave: An honor bestowed upon those drivers with the superior intelligence, taste, class, and discomfort tolerance to own the ultimate vehicle – the Jeep. Generally consists of vigorous side-to-side motion of one or both hands, but may be modified to suit circumstances and locally accepted etiquette. Examples of commonly accepted modifications:

  • Top off: One handed wave above windshield or outside body tub
  • Top off during blizzard: Shiver and nod, hands may remain frozen to steering wheel
  • Southern/rural locations: Raise fingers from steering wheel, nod

It’s not what you buy, it’s what you build and what you do with it. In keeping with this cardinal rule of Jeeping, categories have been established to account for each part of the equation which is:

  • The Jeep Waving Hierarchy: Based on the vehicle itself. Takes into account the nostalgia factor, the discomfort tolerance quotient, and the amount of owner dedication required to maintain the steed.
  • The Modifying Sub-categories: Based on what you do with your Jeep.
  • Equipment Adjustments: What you build.

Finally, there’s always the humorous way to look at the Jeep wave, as shown on JeepForum