The Jeep brand is everywhere and considering its reach and the amount of time Jeeps have been around, there are plenty of Jeep stories to tell. We thought that an article that looks at some of the more interesting ones would be entertaining.
Ford, Willys, and Bantam designed the original Jeep
Knowing that World War II was at our doorstep, the military asked Congress for a “rush order” of small four wheel drive vehicles to use in war. They approached over a hundred companies but only Bantum, Willys and Ford were interested and proposed designs.
The government liked the Bantam concept best but was concerned about them having the ability to build thousands of Jeeps. The Army then approached Willys and Ford for quotes. Ford accepted and built a prototype of the Bantam design and included a number of innovations. They called the vehicle the “Pygmy.” Willys Corporation was also interested and built the “Quad” with the Bantam plans and incorporated four-wheel steering.
The original jeep was designed in two days
A designer working for Bantam Corporation, Karl Probst, starting on July 17, 1940, fleshed out the design of the first Jeep in just two days. By July 22nd, the entire proposal—including cost estimates—was handed over to the U.S. Army.
The front’s legendary shape actually came from Ford
Despite the bulk of the design coming from Bantam, the Army chose Fords Pygmy’s flat front grill design. As the guys at Millers Jeep (Martinsburg, WV) relate, the Jeep the faithful are not fond of the connection.
No one really knows how the name was born
Many people insist that “jeep” is a truncation of General Purpose vehicle, or GP. While automotive historians argue over this, the name was minted during WW II and it has been used since. Just after the war, Willy’s-Overland registered “Jeep” as a trademark.
The “CJ” name is for Civilian Jeep
For the first time, Jeeps were available to civilians after the war and Willys-Overland named them with a “CJ” prefix. The CJ name was used from 1945 until 1986.
The Willys Station Wagon was the forerunner to the modern SUV
Willys originally intended to sell its vehicles for farming use. As it turns out, almost as soon as the war ended, the Willys Station Wagon became the vehicle of choice for those who enjoyed off-roading.
The Wagoneer was the first SUV
When it came time to replace the Willy’s Station Wagon, the Jeep Wagoneer was designed. It was a more modern vehicle with modern conveniences like an automatic transmission and power steering.
The Rubicon Trail Story
In 1953, a man named Mark A. Smith organized the first Jeep “Jamboree” across the Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe. They’ve never stopped since, and today Jeep brands special editions with the famous Rubicon name.
The Expediciones De Las Americas is the ultimate road trip
A couple of decades after starting the Rubicon Jamboree, Mark A. Smith led an expedition of Jeeps on the longest off-road trip in history, trekking 21,000 miles over some of the world’s nastiest terrain from the southernmost tip of Chile to the northern reaches of Alaska.
The USPS makes the mail Jeeps
In case you were wondering about mail trucks, they are genuine Jeeps and the company has been building them for over 30 years. in the early 1980s, Jeep established a separate facility for the production of government vehicles. After the AMC takeover, that facility became AM General, which went on to produce the famous Hummer.