The former online magazine JJournal.net had a short article about San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours, probably the oldest and largest of the 4x4 tour businesses in Colorado. They offer Jeep rentals to explore the hundreds of miles of trails in the Ouray, CO area, and guided tours in their custom-built open Jeep vehicles. "We drive, you look" has been their motto for over 50 years, and most of that driving has been in Jeeps.
The photos seen here are my enhanced, colorized versions of several archival photographs which were found for that article.
According to David Fetherston, in Jeep: Warhorse, Workhorse and Boulevard Cruiser, the tour business was started as Davis Scenic Tours in 1946, by Buddy Davis. The company was bought in 1959 by Francis "Bernie" Kuboske, who renamed it San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours, and modified a CJ-5 as his first new vehicle.
These photos show that Davis Tours were using stretched CJ-3Bs before 1959, although it's unclear whether they continued in use after the firm was bought by Kubeske. It's also unclear whether these Jeeps were in fact red, like most of the later San Juan Jeeps, or green (40K JPEG) like that first CJ-5 as seen in Fetherston's book. The portholes in the side of the hood are probably just a decorative touch inspired by Buick. The hood blocks also appear to have been modified.
Some of the archival photos are poor reproductions, but still the breathtaking scenery is obvious. And travellers today see the same scenery, although from slightly newer, stretched Jeep vehicles. Jeeps modified by the company have included Willys wagons, FC-170 and J-20 trucks, Scramblers, and a Ford Thunderbird on a Jeep chassis.
See also the grayscale versions of the first photo (60K JPEG) and the second photo (70K JPEG).
The mountain trails around Ouray, Colorado are now also travelled by other 4WD tour companies. The original San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours is at The Historic Western Hotel Lobby, 210 7th Avenue, Box 25, Ouray, Colorado 81427, and in Silverton, Colorado at the train. Telephone 970-325-0089 or toll free 888-624-8403.
If you call, maybe ask them if they still have any of the old 3B's kicking around.
Thanks to the former online Jeep magazine JJournal.net for the original feature. -- Derek Redmond
See also Craig Brockhaus' restoration of a San Juan FC-170 Forward Control Jeep.
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