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Jim Carter’s 100mph Plaque

• CATEGORIES: Features

jim-carter-sign1Scott Gilbert from Cincinnati called me last week. We talked about a few Alaska or Rust loose ends, then he asked if I’d seen a 100mph club plaque on eBay.

“No, I haven’t seen that,” I responded.
Scott explained, “It’s a cool plaque with a Willys speedometer on it. I thought it was an unusual piece, so I’ve been watching it ever since the seller listed it at $100. It’s now down to $20, plus $10 shipping.”
“Well, that’s definitely a better price,” I told him.
“The strange thing is, I’ve tried to find out more about the plaque, but can’t find anything. So, I figured I’d try you,” he said. Then he asked, “Have you ever heard of the Wandering Willys Jeep Club or the 100mph club?”
“Well, as a matter of fact I have …,” I paused for a moment, then added, “My parents co-founded the club in 1969. So, I know that club pretty well. In fact, it’s still around.”
At this point I stopped. If Scott was listening carefully, he probably heard the creaking sounds of the gears in my brain slowly grinding, triggered by our conversation. Wandering Willys + 100mph Club. That sounded familiar. Then, I realized he was still talking.
“… and the Wandering Willys name is on the plaque and there’s a person’s name on it, too …”
I stopped him, “Wait, I know the name! It says Jim Carter!”
He was genuinely shocked. “You are right, but how did you know?”
“Because I remember it. I was there the day Jim went 100mph in his jeep!”

Here’s the story ….

The Wandering Willys Jeep Club was founded in 1969 in Seattle’s Eastside area. Jim & Patti Carter were charter members as were my parents, Karl & Marge Eilers (there were seven other charter members). 

Karl had grown up with Jim in Salt Lake City and Marge had grown up with Patti in Seattle, so the couples were good friends by the time the jeep club was founded. 

In May of 1982, I was 16 years old. The Wandering Willys Jeep Club was on a jeep trip with about eight members traveling to an area above Cle Elum, a small town in the Cascade Mountains along I-90 east of Seattle. We expected to reach some snow that day and sure enough we did.

Jim was driving his modified fiberglass flattie named Otis (my all-time favorite jeep). He was crawling over some frozen snow on the trail when it gave way and he sunk enough to where he was high centered. Attempting to escape, he tried spinning his wheels, but he was too stuck. At that point he realized there was no friction on the tires, so he slowly pressed the gas pedal. He made it up to 100 mph on his speedometer, before backing off the gas. But, he backed off too quickly, breaking his front driveline. It was a silly thing to do and he, not usually prone to doing things like that, found himself getting teased by everyone. The plaque memorialized the event and was probably presented to him at a later club meeting.


Otis circa 1982 with Patti Carter (Jim’s wife) driving.

So, that might have been the end of it. I told Scott he was welcome to bid on it, as I didn’t want to pay $30 for it. However, subsequently the eBay auction ended with no bids. So, following the auction, I wrote to the seller, telling him where and how he probably acquired the plaque, the story behind it, and the fact that I didn’t think it was worth anything, but for me it had sentimental value. I wished him luck with the sale.

The seller responded, telling me he loved the story and wanting to give the object to me for free. I told him his offer was gracious, but I would only accept if I paid for shipping. He agreed, so I bought the plaque for a penny and paid shipping. It arrived a couple days ago.

jim-carter-sign2 jim-carter-sign3

So, for me it is a neat story and plaque, now with an even better history.

And, for a little Otis retrospective … Otis circa 1969 as a truer CJ-3A:

Otis circa early 1970s:


Otis shortly after the new Parkette fiberglass body was sanded and installed, along with a new suspension.


A side shot of Otis stuck in the mud. That’s Jim to the right and that might be Patti in front of him (I can’t tell). The “supervisor” to the left in the white t-shirt is my dad. This is a late 70’s early 80s photo.



11 Comments on “Jim Carter’s 100mph Plaque

  1. Marty Tilford

    That is such an awesome story!!!! It’s amazing how small of a world we live in. Can you email me your story and pictures I think it would make a great article for Tripower!!!

  2. David Eilers Post author

    No connection, other than he read the email I sent him via eBay and enjoyed it enough that he wanted to give me the plaque for free.

  3. Cody R. Maverick

    Where did the eBay seller get the plaque? How did it go from being presented to Jim Carter way back in the day to ending up being put up for sale?

  4. David Eilers Post author

    I guess I glossed over that part of the story.

    Jim and Patti downsized their home this past summer. As a part of the move, they had some type of estate/moving sale (I only found out last month that they had moved). The eBay seller (who lives in Bellingham, which is north of Seattle) bought it there. It was the only jeep-related item he had for sale on eBay.

  5. Joe in Mesa

    Great story, Dave 🙂
    Was Otis the “inspiration”, so to speak, for Lost Biscuit? Appears to have similar line/ridge along the sides of the tub.

  6. David Eilers Post author

    Yes. Otis was my inspirtion. I couldn’t find a Parkette body when I started with Biscuit, but I did find a Bobcat fiberglass body (that was in horrible shape, so it needed all kinds of work anyway-best part was I traded it for an axle I didn’t need). So, I made my own “Parkette”, except I placed the stripes a little differently.

  7. Dan B.

    Awesome story.

    Also that intact black King-Seeley speedo needle is rarer than hen’s teeth. That one even still has the rare factory red tip!

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