Jeep 'Bolide' XJ-002

Update 21/03/2015: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the car as 'Boldie' and not 'Bolide'.


With the recent unveil of this year's Easter Jeep Safari concepts, I started looking for interesting Jeeps to feature here, and remembered seeing the 'Bolide' some time ago. If you were getting into the fibreglass recreational off-roader game in the late '60s, your choices were limited to, well, Volkswagen Beetle-based kits. 

You could buy a real Jeep, of course, but where's the fun in that? 

It seems as though someone convinced Kaiser-Jeep that the company should explore this niche, and it may have been one of the company's partners in this project: Borg Warner or, as allpar.com says, Andrew "Jack" Griffith*, who would have handled marketing and distribution of the truck.

I think the Bolide (the name for a bright meteor) would have worked out quite well for the companies involved. Built on a stock Jeep Commando pickup chassis complete with V6 engine, automatic transmission, and 3.31 rear end, it would have had the power to kick dirt in the face of anything with 'Manx' on its tail.

The only problem, of course, was timing. Approved before the AMC takeover of Jeep and finished during it, the Bolide at least received some publicity. It was shown at the 1970 New York Auto Show in the form you see above, sadly obscuring my favourite feature: its Zagato-like double-bubble roof.

After the show, it was returned to technical partner Borg Warner; it's not clear if this was planned from the beginning or done in reaction to the takeover. Passed through a number of stewards since, it's been repainted, modified, used, and probably abused. I mean, what else would you do with a tough Jeep chassis and robust Cycolac plastic body—commute to work?

Now, the one question I haven't answered: who designed and built it? Ever hear of Dann Deaver and the Bolide Motor Car Corporation of Huntington, New York? As it turns out, Geoffrey Hacker of forgottenfiberglass.com, has a great story on the firm, players, and another Bolide prototype—the swoopy, Porsche 904-like Can-Am 1.

Anyway, the XJ-002 is currently undergoing restoration, which is fantastic. Let's hope we see it again…attacking off-road parks with abandon!

Sources

* The first 1964 (TVR) Griffith was named after Andrew "Jack" Griffith—another legendary fibreglass sports car