A series of cross-country rallies for race-equipped CJ-3Bs? This was the annual "Jeep Cross" circuit, organized in Spain in the 1970's and 80's by Motor Iberica, parent company of Jeep manufacturer EBRO. The overall winning team took home the "Cup of Spain."
This photo was taken at the Gran Cross Rally of Catalunya in northeast Spain in 1980, the year the Jeep Cross name was officially changed to "Gran Cross."
According to an April 1980 report on the race in Spanish (250K JPEG), there were typically 16 to 20 Jeeps in a race. This one ran between Girona and La Bisbal, a distance of about 30km (19 miles) through the mountains.
Jeep Cross drivers competed in either Comandos (EBRO's version of the North American Commando) or CJ-3B Bravos. For the 1980 Gran Cross series the vehicles were split into two divisions based on engine size, because of the dominance in 1979 of the Comandos with the 71HP Perkins 4-165 diesel over the Bravos with the 61HP 4-108 Perkins.
Along with EBRO, the huge oil and gas company Repsol was a principal sponsor of the Jeep Cross series. Most of the Jeeps lined up here at Girona advertise sponsorship by Repsol.
The cover photo on a 1970's EBRO brochure was taken at the first Jeep Cross race, and captures a Bravo marked as entry number 5 flying down a dirt road, and the driver's hair flying in the breeze. This photo became well-known after appearing in Auto Aventura magazine, and also becoming one of the first photos in "Jeeps Around the World" on CJ3B.info.
Jeep 5 had a roll bar, which was standard equipment for the Bravo, plus a lap belt and a little rope that could be clipped across each door opening!
The Bravo had the fuel tank under the passenger rather than the driver's seat, which may have helped the driver feel marginally safer.
The cover of a Jeep Cross rule book advertises the Copa de España or "Cup of Spain", as well as "Motor Iberica Grand Prize" and the "Repsol Trophy." Another sketch from the booklet (30K GIF) shows a Jeep carrying the Repsol name and logo on its bumper, hood and body.
Although the cover shows a driver in an apparently stock Jeep, restrained only by the lap belt, the diagram below of required and recommended safety equipment is from the same book. It requires bucket seats, shoulder harnesses, 6-point roll cage, fire extinguisher, tow hooks and mud flaps, and recommends safety mesh all around.
This Bravo is equipped with protective screens on the sides, although not yet in front or overhead. It belongs to the owner of Automotrac, a Jeep workshop in Molins de Rei, near Barcelona.
Another detail seen in some of these pictures is a rear-mounted spare tire, suggesting that the teams may have needed to be prepared to change a tire during a race. Later photos confirm this, showing spares lying in the back of the Jeeps for quicker access.
In 2022, Jaime Gomis in Barcelona met Xavier Rigol, whose father and uncle drove in the Jeep Cross 1979 series. His father Josep Antón Rigol is on the left in this photo, and his uncle Juan on the right. The name Talleres Rigol Jeep ("Rigol Jeep Workshop") emblazoned on the windshield was the brothers' garage in La Palma de Cervelló, near Barcelona.
This picture (CJ3B.info's February 2021 cover photo) was taken outside Josep Antón and Juan's garage Talleres Rigol Jeep. In the foreground is their long-wheelbase Bravo L with its big Firestone tires.
Long-wheelbase CJ-3Bs were popular in Spain, built under the VIASA, EBRO and AVIA brand names from about 1960-1985 as the "CJ-6" and later "Bravo L" (see Room for Sunbathing on CJ3B.info.) They don't show up in many Jeep Cross photos, but for drivers who didn't hesitate to go airborne on the rough courses the 101-inch (2565mm) wheelbase was probably a good choice.
No doubt the Rigol brothers had to take a good look at the suspension after every race.
Josep Antón and Juan had their names on the side of the Jeep, along with their blood type (O+). Sponsorship credits include Cremsa, the Jeep dealership in Barcelona, and the spare tire can be seen in the back.
Also among the photos in the Rigol album was this short-wheelbase Bravo. It shows that by 1979 some competitors had removed the stock windshields behind their safety mesh. The name Real Automovil Club de Catalunya ("Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya" or RACC) across the front suggests this is one of the yellow Bravos in the photo above taken at the Rigol garage.
The RACC has long been involved in organizing motor racing, as well as serving as an auto club offering roadside assistance.
An October 1979 article (200K JPEG) from Velocidad magazine, described the results of the Jeep Cross of Aragon, held in Huesca. The text in Spanish reports a victory by the team of Prieto and Antón in an EBRO Comando, and a crash by favorites Juvanteny and Reixach in their Bravo CJ-3B.
It predicts an exciting final race of the series in Madrid in November 1979, since the winner of the 1979 Cup of Spain would not be decided until then.
Another photo found by Jaime Gomis was taken just prior to the race in Huesca. An EBRO Comando and several CJ-3B Bravos have full cages and some have the windshields removed; these are pretty clearly full-time racing vehicles.
This shows license plate "S 6624 G" from the photo above, in action on a rocky section of the Huesca course in front of a big crowd enjoying the action. It does suggest why some drivers might prefer not to have the mesh enclosure.
Comparing this shot with one of a Comando taken at the same location in the Velocidad article (200K JPEG) indicates they both date from 1979. Comparing it with another 1979 article (250K JPEG) confirms that this Bravo is the team of García and Sañudo
Seen here prior to a race, possibly the following year, their Bravo finally has the safety screens. It carries the names of some different sponsors, including front mud flaps advertising Iresa, the Spanish company manufacturing exhaust manifolds and other aftermarket racing equipment.
The final Castile Jeep Cross rally of 1979, at San Lorenzo de El Escorial, on Sunday, 25 November 1979 is the subject of one of a couple of Jeep Cross newsreels on YouTube.
A poster for that 25 November 1979 race states that it was the ultima prueba puntuable or "last scoring test." The narration in the video confirms that Juvanteny and Reixach came back from their loss in the previous race, to win in the Bravo S of Team Andretti-Diez.
There is also video from an earlier 1979 Jeep Cross event held in Manresa, on YouTube.
When EBRO entered a rally called "Expedición Africa 2000" they mounted some more aggressive tires. (Why this race was tagged "2000" is not clear, since the photo appeared in the same late-70's EBRO brochure.)
The Jeep Cross apparently disappeared when Nissan of Japan bought EBRO's parent company Motor Inerica in 1985, but this was not the end of off-road Jeep racing in Spain. This long-wheelbase Bravo L is seen in a 1985 article (200K JPEG) from the magazine Auto Sport Hebdo describing the "Todo Terreno Montes de Cuenca" (Cuenca Mountains All-Terrain) off-road rally which as of 2010 is still held, with a variety of specially-prepared vehicles.
Thanks to Josep Bordas, Jaime Gomis and Ricardo Suárez. Also to 1000 Lagos for clippings. -- Derek Redmond
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