Jeep CJ-5 Finally Completes Globe Trip 30 Years Later

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Jeep CJ-5

This Jeep CJ-5 faced many obstacles over the years, but it ultimately prevailed. 

Most of us have accumulated hundreds of thousands of miles, both on and off-road, in our years behind the wheel. But those miles were likely spent navigating the perilous commute to work or the rocks of our local trails. But it took Loren and Patricia Upton a whopping 30 years to cover 56,000 miles in their 1966 Jeep CJ-5. Except this journey was a little bit different than your average grocery store run. The Upton duo spent five years driving their vintage Jeep across the globe on a north to south route (minus Antarctica). And then, three decades later, they finally drove that final mile.

The epic journey stopped just short of completion thanks to nothing less than political unrest. The duo began their trip at the Atlantic Ocean in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on June 15, 1984, before traversing all of the Americas. From there, they reconvened at the southernmost point of Africa on September of 1987.

Jeep CJ-5

The Jeep CJ-5, which the Upton couple affectionately refers to as the “Sand Ship Discovery,” then headed north for two years before it reached Gamvik, Norway, on July 4, 1989. Along the way, the Jeep completed the first motorized vehicle all-land crossing of the Darién Gap. This swamp-infested jungle, located between Panama and Columbia, took an amazing 741 days in itself to traverse.

But by October of 1988, the Uptons encountered an obstacle that even they couldn’t overcome. Political unrest in the Israeli-occupied West Bank into Jordan and Lebanon forced the couple to take a ferry to Jordan, the only break in this epic all-land trip.

Jeep CJ-5

Fast forward to 2016. Loren’s nephew Laurence started a GoFundMe page with the intentions of helping restore the Jeep CJ-5. And allowing Loren and Patricia to officially complete their journey. With the help of countless volunteers and supporters, the Sand Ship Discovery was rejuvenated, along with the not-quite-complete road trip. And on May 3, 2018, the couple was finally able to cover that final mile. Be sure and check out the entire story, along with a documented restoration process, by heading over here!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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