What’s with all the people in Jeeps waving to each other?! It’s the "Jeep Wave." And if you own a Jeep, here’s why you should honor the community that you’re now a part of.
The history of the jeep started with World War I when it became apparent that a go-everywhere tough vehicle was needed, having four-wheel drive instead of two, and having an engine that would stand the tests of battle. The American Bantam Car Company created the first jeep prototype which was tested and proclaimed a success, while in 1939 Willys-Overland created the “Go Devil” engine. The U.S. Army, however, needed more and with World War II soon to begin, in late 1941 Bantam’s design was given to Willys-Overland and Ford, and the three auto makes vied for top spot. Eventually Willys was able to provide the ideal design after paring down the weight of its initial submission mainly with body work. Willys and Ford were both contracted to manufacture jeeps and with the start of World War II the jeep proved its versatility on every fighting front. The uses of the jeep during the war were endless, although it was not without its comfort flaws (early jeep seats were said to be so uncomfortable that they caused hemorrhoids, referred to by Army medics as the “jeep disease”). Thankfully that design flaw was solved over the years.
After World War II, the government’s contract that involved Ford in the manufacture of jeeps ended, and the design returned to Willys-Overland, which created its first post-war model: CJ-2A. By 1949, the name Jeep become a registered trademark of Willys-Overland, and the next Jeep model appeared: the CJ-3A (with a one-piece windshield).
In 1950, the Jeep assisted in the Korean War effort and after several other civilian designs the CJ-5 was created in 1955. Several acquisitions and many years later, Chrysler-Daimler now owned the Jeep starting in 1998. During these years several other versions of the CJ were manufactured, then the Wranglers (YJ, TJ, JK).
Source: History of Jeep
As you can see, the Jeep you own has a rich and exciting history, which is why you should recognize the other Jeeps on the road!
The Jeep Wave
“The trail is more important than the destination” (credit) and it’s important to acknowledge your kindred spirits on the road. There are a range of rules and hierarchies regarding the Jeep Wave, with definite preference given to older Jeep models, signs of the trail (MUD!), and modifications. And, the Wave consists of varying degrees of enthusiasm, from a hand held high outside the vehicle to two fingers lifted off the steering wheel. In my experience, I rarely received the Wave until I modified my Jeep in 2015. Now that I’m not just a stock JK owner anymore, I’ve become part of the "club" and it’s awesome to be recognized as someone who loves to go where the pavement doesn’t.
Jeep Talk provides a humorous article on the rules, categories, and hierarchies of the Jeep Wave, but "when in doubt, whip it out!”
And, courtesy of Stomper Off-road, here's a little diagram to help you out!