Willys Quad Original Pilot.
26th January 2006.
are today, at least in the politically civilised
democracies, a symbol of peaceful enjoyment of life at
full, it remains that this niche sector's roots go deep
down to darker political ages.
They go down to painful war years, just
like those still inflicted today by a few remaining
despots who are, luckily, on their way out, one after the
As soon as World
War II ended, the Jeep
concept started its ramification, first into agricultural
and similar utilitarian duties, before getting its
cosmopolitan rights to the heart of the city, gradually
since the late seventies.
history goes back to June
1940, when the U.S. military informed automakers that it
was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle”
to replace the Army’s motorcycle and modified Ford
The Army invited 135 manufacturers to
bid on production and had developed a lengthy
specification list for the vehicle, including the
under 75 inches
under 36 inches
engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour
transfer case with four-wheel drive
and driving lights
vehicle weight under 1,300 lbs.
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
The companies produced prototypes for
testing in record time. Bantam’s chief engineer,
along with a team of Bantam executives, worked out a
design and the company built its field car within 49 days.
Willys-Overland Vice President of
Engineering Delmar G. Roos designed the Willys Quad. Ford
developed its Model GP (General Purpose), known as
the Pygmy, which was powered by an adapted Ford/Ferguson
Each of the companies 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.
The next round of contracts was issued
in March of 1941. Bantam was to produce 1,500 Model
40 BRC vehicles, Ford would build 1,500 modified and
improved GP Pygmies, and Willys would build 1,500 Quads.
Further testing and evaluation led to
the Army’s selection of the Willys vehicle as the
Subsequently, most of the Bantams and Ford
GPs produced were sent to
Great Britain and Russia as part of the lend-lease
program. In Great Britain, the Ford vehicle was
popularly known as the “Blitz Buggy.”
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 awhile, served almost
as a generic title for off-road vehicles, while the Jeep
itself became an icon of the war.
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.
Willys-Overland would build more than
368,000 vehicles, and Ford, under license, some 277,000,
for the U.S. Army. The rugged, reliable olive-drab
vehicle would forever be known for helping win a world
Willys trademarked the “Jeep”
name after the war and planned to turn the vehicle
into an off-road utility vehicle for the farm — the
civilian Universal Jeep. One of Willys’ slogans at
the time was “The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep,”
and the company set about making sure the world recognized
Willys as the creator of the vehicle.
Jeep CJ - The first civilian
Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A, was produced in 1945. Willys
advertisements marketed the Jeep as a work vehicle for
farmers and construction workers. It came with a tailgate,
side-mounted spare tire, larger headlights, an external
fuel cap and many more items that its military
predecessors did not include.
The CJ-2A was produced for four years,
and in 1948 the CJ-3A was introduced. It was
very similar to the previous model but featured a
one-piece windscreen, and retained the original L-head
The CJ Model was updated in 1953,
becoming the CJ-3B. It had a taller front grille and
hood than its military predecessor in order to accommodate
the new Hurricane F-Head four-cylinder engine.
The CJ-3B remained in production until 1968
and a total of 155,494 were manufactured in the U.S.
In 1953, Willys-Overland
was sold to Henry J. Kaiser for $60
million. The Kaiser Company began an extensive
research and development program that would broaden the
Jeep product range.
Two years later in 1955, Kaiser
introduced the CJ-5, based on the 1951 Korean War M-38A1,
with its rounded front-fender design. It was slightly
larger than the CJ-3B, as it featured an increased
wheelbase and overall length. Improvements in
engines, axles, transmissions and seating comfort made the
CJ-5 an ideal vehicle for the public’s growing interest
in off-road vehicles.
The CJ-5 featured softer styling lines,
including rounded body contours. A long-wheelbase
model was introduced and was known as CJ-6. Apart
from a longer wheelbase, the CJ-6 was almost identical to
the CJ-5. Jeep also introduced a forward-control
cab-over-engine variation to the CJ line in 1956.
The Jeep CJ-5 had the longest
production run of any Jeep vehicle, from 1954 to
1984. In the 16 years of Kaiser ownership,
manufacturing plants were established in 30 foreign
countries, and Jeep vehicles were marketed in more than
Jeep Wagoneer, the Cherokee precursor.
In 1962, Jeep introduced the
first automatic transmission in a four-wheel-drive
vehicle, in the Wagoneer line, the predecessor to
the Jeep Cherokee. The 1962 Jeep Wagoneer was also
the first four-wheel-drive vehicle with an independent
In 1965, a new “Dauntless” V-6
engine was introduced as an option on both the 81-inch
wheelbase CJ-5 and 101-inch wheelbase CJ-6. The
155-horsepower engine almost doubled the horsepower of the
standard four-cylinder engine. It was the first time
a Jeep CJ could be equipped with a V-6.
In 1970 Kaiser Jeep was purchased by
American Motors Corporation (AMC). Four-wheel-drive
vehicles had become more popular than ever, and by 1978,
total Jeep vehicle production was up to 600 vehicles a
day — more than three times production at the start
of the decade.
All Jeep CJs came equipped with
AMC-built 304- or 360-cubic-inch V-8 engines. AMC
equipped both the CJ-5 and CJ-6 with heavier axles, bigger
brakes and a wider track.
Another first introduced by Jeep in 1973
was Quadra-Trac®, the first automatic full-time
four-wheel-drive system. Quadra-Trac® was available
in full-size Jeep trucks and wagons as well as the CJ-7.
In 1976, AMC introduced the CJ-7, the
first major change in Jeep design in 20 years. The CJ-7
had a slightly longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 to allow
space for an automatic transmission. For the first time,
the CJ-7 offered an optional molded plastic top and steel
doors. Both the 93.5-inch wheelbase CJ-7 and
83.5-inch wheelbase CJ-5 models were built until 1983 when
demand for the CJ-7 left AMC no choice but to discontinue
the CJ-5, after a 30-year production run.
In 1979, French automaker Renault
acquired a majority stake in AMC (with Jeep being part of
Jeep Scrambler CJ-8.
The Scrambler, introduced in 1981, was
a Jeep similar to the CJ-7 but with a longer wheelbase,
known internationally as the CJ-8.
Jeep Wrangler (YJ) - In 1983,
the growing market for compact four-wheel-drive vehicles
still sought the utilitarian virtues of the Jeep CJ
series, but consumers also were seeking more of the “creature
comforts” found in passenger cars. AMC responded to
this demand by discontinuing the CJ series and introducing
the 1987 Jeep Wrangler (YJ).
Although the Wrangler shared the
familiar open-body profile of the CJ-7, it contained few
common parts with its famous predecessor. Mechanically,
the Wrangler had more in common with the Cherokee than the
CJ-7. The Wrangler YJ had square headlights, which
was a first (and last) for this type of Jeep. The YJ model
exceeded 630,000 units.
Jeep Wrangler with the square headlights:
a first... and last.
On August 5, 1987, about a year after
the introduction of the Wrangler,
Renault sold its stake in American Motors Corporation to
Chrysler Corporation. After
the assassination of Renault's President, Georges Besse by
extreme left activists in Action Direct on 17th Nov. 1986,
the French company retreated from the U.S. to concentrate
again on its home market, Europe and its other traditional
overseas markets (Renault owns today 44.4 percent of
Japan's number two carmaker Nissan Motor Co.).
Being part of the
Corporation, the Jeep brand
became part of Chrysler which integrated it in its
Jeep Wrangler Sport.
Jeep Wrangler (TJ) - The 1997
Jeep Wrangler (TJ) looked very similar to the CJ-7. Its
‘retro’ look was quite deliberate, but very different
from a mechanical standpoint. Nearly 80 percent of the
vehicle parts were newly designed. The TJ used a four-link
coil suspension, similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and
featured a new interior, including driver and passenger
The Jeep Wrangler (TJ) retained several
classic Jeep features such as round headlights, a
fold-down windshield (first seen in 1940) and removable
doors, as well as a choice of a soft top or removable hard
top. A factory-fitted sport bar was also standard.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - Enter
the then-best-equipped Jeep ever – the 2003 Jeep
Wrangler Rubicon. This vehicle earned the right to be
called by the legendary trail name, as it was equipped
with push-button-actuated locking front and rear Dana 44
axles, a 4:1 low-range transfer case, 32-inch tires and
many more options not available on any production Jeep
(MY 2006) Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - In
2004, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was introduced —
a longer-wheelbase Wrangler, featuring 13 inches more
cargo room and 2 inches of additional second-row leg
room. While maintaining the unmatched open-air fun
and 4x4 capability of the original Jeep Wrangler, the
Unlimited model offered more refined on-road comfort, as
well as even more versatility.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
- With the 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, Jeep
married its top off-road rig — the Jeep Wrangler
Rubicon — to the new, roomier, versatile Jeep
Wrangler Unlimited. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
featured locking front and rear differentials, front and
rear Dana model 44 axles, four-wheel disc brakes and a 4:1
low-range transfer case.
Since Chrysler Corporation merged with
Daimler-Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler, the Jeep
trademark belongs to the German-American group.
Jeep four-wheel-drive vehicles are
built and sold at the rate of more than 600,000 vehicles
each year. Chrysler Group manufactures Jeep vehicles
in the U.S., Austria, China, Malaysia, Thailand,
Indonesia, Venezuela, Argentina and Egypt.