Few visions draw the mind’s eye back to the good old days like the sight of a Willys flat fender tooling down a country two-track. It imparts a visceral sense of freedom, of a warm breeze blowing through your hair, and the open road rather than schedules and deadlines on the horizon. Gather a few dozen such classic steeds together and it’s cause for celebration. Earlier this month I headed to Suwanee, Georgia, for a trail ride in the local area and a day at the Omix-ADA Jeep Heritage Expo.
Omix-ADA (parent company of Rugged Ridge and Alloy USA) has deep roots in the Jeep circles. As the largest independent manufacturer and distributor of Jeep parts and accessories, they’ve been behind the 7-slot grille movement for more than a quarter century. Owner Al Azadi, who grew up kicking around his dad’s Jeep dealership, eventually followed his dream of being the go-to source for all things Jeep and opened a retail outlet. With an understanding that it’s hard to find parts for older models, he has scoured the planet for old new stock, purchasing shipping containers of authentic OE inventory. The endeavor culminated into one of the most comprehensive offerings of everything from Willys CJ-2A fenders to CJ-5 brake kits, much of it with the Willys, Kaiser, AMC, or Chrysler stamp. And yes, they also offer a full array of products for XJs, YJs, TJs, and new Wrangler JKs.
This year marked the second annual Expo, and included tours of their Jeep museum, kids games, an RC course, raffle, food, and music. By midday there were hundreds of enthusiast Jeeps lining the parking lot of their 250,000-foot facility for a show-and-shine vehicle display. The museum, which includes dozens of rare specimens such as a prototype Bantam BRC, Willys MA, and Ford GP, is not to be missed. They even have a Ford GPA Amphibious from Jeeping legend Mark A. Smith’s collection. Stay tuned to Expedition Portal, as we’re going to take you on a detailed tour of the museum and its 40-plus classic 7-slot grilles. Also, if you are in Georgia next June, we highly advise swinging by Omix-ADA for the Jeep Heritage Expo. www.omix-ada.com