Jasper Halford started the ultimate pandemic project at the age of 16: he wanted to build a car from scratch.
Now, more than two years later, he’s auctioning off a light blue 1984 Jeep CJ7 at Hot August Nights in Reno, and he’s going to donate the proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Halford’s “Wish Jeep,” as he and his sponsors call it, was originally a personal project. He restored his own CJ7 as a freshman in high school, and when the pandemic started he still had the shell of a second Jeep he had bought for parts.
He thought he would start the rebuild and eventually sell the car on Craigslist. But something about the Make-A-Wish Foundation spoke to her.
“I think the service (provided by Make-A-Wish) is really, really unique. There’s nothing quite like it. And I love that all the money you donate stays local,” he said. he declares.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the “wishes” of children with life-threatening illnesses. During the pandemic, the nonprofit put its wishes on hold and asked donors to send messages of hope instead. Videos and letters poured in from celebrities and wishing children, and Halford saw the campaign.
“Being able to see some of these wishes granted is really quite an experience,” he said.
He contacted the Make-A-Wish chapter in Northern California and Nevada, and with information on how to donate a car to the Foundation, Halford was sold.
The Wish Jeep DIY quickly turned into a community effort.
Halford’s first sponsor was a small powder coating shop in West Sacramento, just outside of his hometown of Pleasant Grove, California. Les Schwabs put tires on the car and Kniesel’s Collision gave it a bright blue Make-A-Wish paint job. Other sponsors donated parts and labor.
“Every part of this jeep has been touched and reviewed,” Halford said.
He also made a big sacrifice. He “cannibalized” his own Jeep for parts. Jasper’s father, Forest Halford, couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s been an incredible experience as a parent, to see his self-confidence grow, to see the support from the community, and to see him look outside of himself,” he said.
Alan Tom, Executive Director of Hot August Nights, is equally impressed and he is thrilled to see the car go to auction.
“It’s amazing in itself, what Jasper can do, at such a young age,” Tom said. The Jeep will be really great for the lucky bidder.
The Halfords took the car for a few test drives and they gave it their stamp of approval for on-road and off-road excursions.
How to bid on the Wish Jeep
Jasper Halford will say goodbye to the Wish Jeep on Friday, August 5 at 3:15 p.m. at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Hot August Nights will be accepting bids on the Jeep at its Collector Car Auction. Admission is $20.
Interested bidders can view car details and register to bid through the MAG auction website.
For Halford, it’s been more than two years since he started the project. He just completed his first year in the electrical engineering program at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana. He’s 19 now and he confidently says the Wish Jeep has sparked lasting friendships for him.
“(Small auto shops and small businesses) have always been the most willing (to help). I’ve met so many great people. A lot of those people – I’ll know them for the rest of my life,” he said. -he declares.
He already has his next project in mind. Halford says he will eventually restore his own Jeep, parts of which he sacrificed to the Wish Jeep.