Future Jeeper, starting out in 1953, in a '50 Dodge...my take: Note the date, it was pre Nardelli and Marchionne and I was still full of optimism. Your Turn: Norm Layton on growing up Mopar by Mopar Norm February 6, 2008 6:25 AM MoparNorm is the screenname of Norman Layton, an auto enthusiast and Californian who frequents this blog. Norm sent us this nice missive about growing up around the brand and how it continues to influence him today. I didn’t start life as a loyal Mopar fan. Instead, my love developed over the years. At the ripe old age of 3, I fell in love with my Dad’s 1950 Dodge Pickup. That truck reigned supreme in my young life until dad brought home a brand new 1959 Jeep FC170. That was my first real introduction to the world of trucks, as my dad took me with him to shop for and take delivery of that Green beauty at the Jeep dealership. The sight of fresh, perfect paint, and the smells of glue, rubber and trim that make up that unmistakable “new car smell” are still imprinted on my mind nearly 50 years later. Our family soon outgrew the Jeep and it was replaced by a 1964 Dodge W200 Power Wagon—a real beast of a truck that now I proudly own and am currently restoring to like-new condition. Mix that in with the first Jeep I owned—a 1959 CJ-5—and you’ll understand why I was happy beyond words when Chrysler purchased ownership of Jeep. With the merging of these two great brands my passion for Chrysler vehicles was increased exponentially. This enthusiasm has not been tempered, but rather increased via the 12 Jeeps and 7 Dodges I have owned over the years. My constant promoting of Chrysler products has led to many friendships, and nearly all of my close and extended family members have become loyal owners of Jeeps and Dodges, mainly to escape my constant sales pitches about the greatest vehicles in the world. My wife owned a foreign brand when we met, but she soon graduated to a Grand Wagoneer and now owns a Liberty, I’m happy to report that after many thousands of satisfied miles, they have all become repeat buyers of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products. I'd like to imagine that we have most likely, and almost single-handedly, kept hundreds of Chrysler employees busy and many dealerships and loan officers happy. My passion for Jeep and Dodge vehicles has led to many wonderful experiences. These largely grew from Jeeping; Jeep camping adventures and countless off-road experiences and onward to the early days of organized off-road racing. Then my interest moved on to NASCAR, Dodge truck clubs, and Camp Jeep. My enthusiasm increased from talking with various Jeep and Dodge engineers at Camp Jeep and Dodge events. I’m proud to be the 3rd generation of a 4th generation Chrysler family. It was a great day when my daughters told me they wanted to buy Jeeps. The memories that you make while exploring this great country, both on the highway and in the backcountry, are the ties that bind generations and people together. These vehicles shorten distances and extend friendships beyond regions that are normally possible. My current Cummins-powered Ram is among the finest medium duty trucks in the world. In day-in and day-out service it has never let me down or missed a beat, so I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you to all the employees and managers of Chrysler LLC. The future is now and it’s filled with excitement, but it is important to remember our past and the how and why we came to be an American Icon. A lot more dreams are realized after a vehicle rolls off the assembly line than you can ever imagine.