2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Today we’re going to look a little bit into the history of Jeep vehicles, and how the whole thing got started. These Jeeps have come a long way to where they sit on Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Dealers‘ lots today.

1940 Willys Quad Original Pilot (J-0109)

1940 Willys Quad Original Pilot (J-0109)

In July 1940, the U.S. military informed automakers that it was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle” to replace the Army’s motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T vehicles. The Army invited 135 manufacturers to bid on production and developed a lengthy specification list for the vehicle, including the following:

  • 600-lb. load capacity
  • Wheelbase less than 75 inches
  • Height less than 36 inches
  • Smooth-running engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour
  • Rectangular-shaped body
  • Four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case
  • Fold-down windshield
  • Three bucket seats
  • Blackout and driving lights
  • Gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs.
1941 Willys MA (J-0273)

1941 Willys MA (J-0273)

At first, Willys-Overland and American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company were the only two companies answering the call. Soon, however, Ford Motor Company entered the picture, and competition began among the three over which company would receive the lucrative government contract.

Each company delivered its prototype to the Army in the summer of 1940 and received approval to build 70 sample vehicles. The Army took possession of these vehicles in November 1940 at Camp Holabird, Md.

Each of the three designs exceeded the Army’s specification of 1,300 lbs., but the Army soon realized that limit was far too low and raised it for the next round of vehicles. Further testing and evaluation led to the Army’s selection of Willys vehicle as the primary manufacturer.

Jeep Willys MB (J-0272)

Jeep Willys MB (J-0272)

Willys MA/MB
With modifications and improvements, the Willys Quad became the MA, and later the MB. But the Army, and the world, came to know it as the Jeep®.

Some claimed that the name came from the slurring of the letters “GP,” the military abbreviation for “General Purpose.” Others say the vehicle was named for a popular character named “Eugene the Jeep” in the Popeye cartoon strip. Whatever its origin, the name entered into the American lexicon and, for a while, served almost as a generic title for off-road vehicles, while the Jeep itself became an icon of the war.

1941 Jeep CJ-2A

1941 Jeep CJ-2A

The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument clusters on the dashboard and a hand brake on the left side. Willys struggled to reduce the weight to the new Army specification of 2,160 lbs. Items removed in order for the MA to reach that goal were reinstalled on the next-generation MB resulting in a final weight of approximately just 400 lbs. above the specifications.

Click Here for a more in depth look at the actual Jeeps themselves. To see more pictures of the vintage Jeeps, simply click any of the photos in this post. Thanks for checking out Chrysler Catchall!

1949 Jeep Willys

1949 Jeep Willys

1947 Jeep Station Wagon advertisement. Roominess, comfort and safety were all solid selling points for the Jeep Station Wagon.

1947 Jeep Station Wagon advertisement. Roominess, comfort and safety were all solid selling points for the Jeep Station Wagon.

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