Welcome to Colombia's weird Willys festival
Jason Barlow heads to South America, where overloaded classic Jeeps do wheelies in the street
Posted: 05 Feb 2014
His name is Pesebre. In Spanish, it means ‘nativity scene', but as noms de guerre go, it's spectacularly inappropriate. Pesebre, you see, is Colombia's number one exponent of pique, or wheelie. Not just any old wheelie, though. Pesebre drives a 1952 Willys Jeep, freighted with sackfuls of coffee beans for extra traction over the rear axle, so that its nose goes improbably skywards. Using little more than a metal pole jammed onto the clutch pedal and a trick diff lock, the Jeep can then rotate 360º in its own axis.
This is impressive. Pesebre, moustachioed and with the swarthy ruggedness of a gunslinger in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, looks as cool as only a man wheelieing and rotating a 61-year old Jeep possibly could. But it gets better. Once he's got momentum, Pesebre climbs out of the driver's door, teeters across the bonnet and dangles himself fully stretched off the nose of the still-spinning vehicle. Several thousand Colombians go nuts. Some of them are about two inches from the top of his head, as the Jeep circulates faster and faster.
Words: Jason Barlow
Pictures: Mark Fagelson
This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine