October 9, 2010

I only watch Annabel Langbein's show for the Jeep

"Wish that sheila would
get out of the way
so I could see the Jeep better."
I happened to be listening to National Radio the other day, not  even vulgar talkback, and caught a critic cheerfully admitting that a highlight for him of Annabel Langbein's The Free Range Cook on TV One was looking at her backside in tight jeans. I hadn't noticed this highlight myself because I watch the show only for the recipes … well, no, that's not true. I watch it for the appearances in the titles and in most episodes of the yellow Jeep ute which would have been one of the batch assembled (as well as being converted from LHD) in Auckland by Nissan at its Stoddard Road, Mt Roskill, factory.

I emailed Annabel for more information but the ensuing silence suggests that some blog on 4WDs does not rate as a priority on her to-do list; maybe she's too busy driving the Jeep gathering fresh ingredients for the next episode of the show, which airs on Saturday evenings. (UPDATE: The series has now ended.) However, a bit of research shows it to be a 1980 model Jeep J-Series, a J9M46YC to be precise, that has been around the clock more than once.

Here's an interesting snippet on the big Jeep that appears on the Australian Jeep  Offroad forum:

In 1981, the Jeep Australia plant began full assembly of the SJ Cherokee wagons and J20 trucks from AMC-supplied CKD kits. This meant the Aussie management could offer fresher, and better-built, stock to the dealers. But the locally-assembled vehicles were still far from perfect. At a dealer meeting, a GM /Jeep dealer stunned two visiting AMC senior executives by standing up and asking, ‘When will Jeep begin supplying life-jackets with every vehicle?’ The execs didn’t know what he was talking about. Then the dealer told them that the Jeeps had so many water leaks, his staff was worried that some of their customers would drown! At the time, some Jeep dealers reckoned JEEP stood for Just Expect Every Problem.

Water leaking through the door and tailgate seals was one of the more-common customer complaints. While the service people at the dealerships conducted frustrating searches for crinkled and/or poorly-fitted seals, the hidden culprit was the poorly-stamped body panels. Time heals everything but body-stamping dies; they just wear down. When Jeep released the full-sized wagon back in 1962, no-one would have predicted that it would stay in production for 28 years. But the declining demand over time meant that it was never economic to consider spending the millions required to make new dies. And it meant that the longer production continued, the worse the sealing problem became. AMC decided to give the old bus the flick once the XJ was released 1984.

Another shot, "borrowed" from her website


  1. Do you have any more info about the Nissan assembled J-trucks? I have one that I believe was originally used at Whenuapai Airbase, and which if pictured in the Jeep sales brochure for NZ, and I'd really like to find out more about them, but this blog post is the most information I have been able to find so far.


  2. Sorry, Fen, I have little more. I was living overseas at the time and my info came from the excellent book, Assembly, by Mark Webster, ISBN 0 7900 0846 7. They look like a great truck and you're lucky to have it. I've seen them in the flesh in Australia, but never here.

  3. Thanks Phil. I'm from the UK so know virtually nothing about them - either as a model generally nor the NZ assembled ones. It looks like they were popular with fire departments in NZ in 1980, but mine is a '79. I also have a 1980 for spares, but as it is orange I guess it wasn't a fire truck either. I'll try to track down the book as I'm generally interested in post-veteran vehicles.