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History of the Civilian Jeep®

 

John North Willys

 

In 1908, John North Willys purchased the Overland Automotive Company, which by then was located in Indianapolis, Indiana. As Runabout sales grew, production was moved in 1908 to the newly purchased Pope-Toledo automobile manufacturing plant in Toledo, Ohio. 

Overland Model 79 Speedster

 1914 Overland Model 79 Speedster. In 1912 the Willys-Overland Company was formed and, in addition to the Runabout, began producing the Willys-Knight series automobile and the popular "Whippet." In 1936, as the result of a Depression-era bankruptcy reorganization, the company became Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.

  In 1939, the idea of a universal military vehicle was in the making. The army needed a replacement for the vehicles they had been using. They used motorcycles and side cars from World War l, and vehicles like the modified Ford Model T. The military wanted new standards for the vehicles they used. The military submitted the standards to American auto makers. 

  • load capacity of 600 pounds

  • wheelbase under 75 inches

  • height under 36 inches

  • engine run smoothly from 3 to 50 miles per hour

  • rectangular shaped body

  • two speed transfer case with four wheel drive

  • windshield that folds down

  • three bucket seats

  • blackout and driving lights

  • Gross vehicle weight under 1200 pounds

  135 companies had been invited to submit designs but only three did. They were Ford Motor company, Willys-Overland, and American Bantam Car Company. The initial contract for 70 jeeps was given to Bantam. Their model was a failure when tested by the military. World War II had already broken out. More prototypes were accepted from the other two companies. Willys-Overland model was the best, followed by Ford, and then Bantam.

Willys-Overland MB

In 1940 Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. started there vehicle development with the design and manufacture of a prototype for America’s first four-wheel drive 1/4-ton utility vehicle. Willys-Overland was granted the production contract and began production in 1941. In all, more than 350,000 "Jeeps" were produced during the 1940’s in support of the war effort. The military paid $738.74 per vehicle. During the War Ford built the vehicle using Willys-Overland blue prints.

  As part of the war effort, Willys-Overland also became a supplier of munitions and military materials, including the "Robomb", the allied version of the German V-2 rocket, bullet cores, shells, projectiles and parts for aircraft landing gears.

  The name "Jeep" also has an interesting history. The name is generally accepted to have come from the Ford name for its general purpose vehicle, of GP for short.  When slurred together it sounds like "Jeep." Willys made the word "Jeep" its trademark.

  After the Second World War, Willys soon realized that there would be a huge market for a civilian version of the Jeep with returned servicemen. Willys had begun to promote the versatility of the Jeep vehicle as a work and recreational vehicle as early as 1942, but all Jeep production had been allocated to supplying the armed services.

CJ-2A

The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A, was produced in 1945. Willys advertisements marketed the Jeep as 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 4 cylinder engine.Jeep CJ3B

 

The CJ Model was updated in 1953, becoming the CJ-3B. It had a taller front grille and hood than its military predecessor, 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 the Henry J. Kaiser interests for $60 million. The Kaiser company began an extensive research and development program that would broaden Jeep product range.

Jeep CJ5

Two years later in 1955, Kaiser introduced the CJ-5. It was based on the 1951 Korean War M-38A1, with its rounded-front-fender design. It was slightly larger than the CJ-3B as it had an increased wheelbase, overall length and was wider. Improvements in engines, axles, transmissions and seating comfort made the CJ-5 the 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 a 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 150 countries.

  Jeep introduced the first automatic transmission in a four wheel drive vehicle in 1962, in their Wagoneer line (a predecessor to the Jeep Cherokee). The 1962 Jeep Wagoneer was also the first four wheel drive with an independent front suspension.

  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. 4WD vehicles had become more popular than ever, and by 1978, total Jeep vehicle production was up to 600 vehicles a day, over three times what it had been at the start of the decade.

  All Jeep CJ's came equipped with AMC-built engines, and all were available with 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 4WD system. Quadra-Trac® was available in full size Jeep trucks and wagons as well as the CJ-7.

Jeep CJ7In 1976, AMC introduced the the CJ-7, the first major change in Jeep design in 20 years. The CJ-7 had a slightly longer wheelbase than a CJ-5 to allow an automatic transmission to be fitted. For the first time, the CJ-7 offered an optional moulded 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 having enjoyed a 30-year production run, and concentrate on the CJ-7.

  The Scrambler, a Jeep similar to the CJ-7 but with a longer wheelbase, known internationally as the CJ-8 was also produced.

Jeep YJEnter the Wrangler (YJ)

In 1983, the growing market for compact 4WD vehicles still sought the utilitarian virtues of the Jeep CJ series, but consumers also were seeking more of the "creature features" associated with passenger cars. AMC responded to this demand in 1986 by discontinuing the CJ series and by 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 YJ had square headlights, which was a first (and last) for this type of Jeep. 630,000 were built.

  On August 5, 1987, about a year after the introduction of the Wrangler, American Motors Corporation was sold to the Chrysler Corporation and the popular Jeep brand became a part of the Jeep/Eagle Division of Chrysler Corporation.

1997 Jeep TJThe 1997 Wrangler (TJ)

The 1997 Jeep Wrangler looks very similar to the CJ-7, indeed its 'retro' look is quite deliberate, but it is almost totally different mechanically. Nearly 80% of the vehicle parts are newly designed. The TJ uses 4 wheel coil suspension, similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a totally new interior, including driver and passenger SRS (Air Bags).

  The in-line, 6 cylinder, fuel injected, 4.0 litre (241 cubic inch) OHV engine delivers 130 kw (180 horsepower) and is also used in the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models.

  The Wrangler retains several 'classic' Jeep features such as round headlights, a fold-down windscreen (first seen in 1940) and removable doors as well as a choice of a soft top or removable hard top. A factory fitted roll bar is also standard.

      2003 Jeep Rubicon

  Enter the best equipped Jeep ever, 2003 Rubicon            

The 2003 TJ became available with some unique options. The package was only available in the new name Rubicon. This vehicle deserved the right to be called by the legendary trail name. Equipped with push button actuated locking Dana 44 axles front and rear, 4 to 1 low crawl ratio transfercase with the flange output shaft instead of a weak slip yoke and many more options not available on any production Jeep ever before. 

  Since Willys obtained the first United States Trademark Registration for the Jeep name in 1950, ownership of the Jeep trademark, which is now registered internationally, has passed from Willys-Overland to Kaiser to American Motors Corporation then Chrysler Corporation. Today with the Mercedes Benz and Chrysler merge the Jeep trademark belongs to Daimler Chrysler.

 Jeep four wheel drive vehicles, the Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, are now being built and sold at the rate of over 600,000 each year. Daimler Chrysler manufactures Jeeps in the USA, Austria, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Venezuela, Argentina and Egypt.

Jeep® Production

 

 
 

 

Willys Overland logo®

1945 Willys-Series CJ-2A 
1946 Willys-Series CJ-2A
1947 Willys-Jeep®Pickup 
1948 Willys-Jeep® Truck 4x4 
1949 Willys-Jeep® Truck 4x2 
1950 Willys-Jeep®Pickup 4x2
Willys-Jeep®VJ-3 
1951 Willys-Jeep®M-38 
1952 Willys-Jeep®Sedan 4x2 
1953 Willys-Jeep®CJ-3B 
1954 Willys-Jeep®Sedan Delivery 4x4 
1955 Jeep® CJ-5
Willys-Jeep®Utility Wagon 
1956 Willys-Jeep® CJ-6 Long WB DJ-3A 
1957 Willys-Jeep® FC-150 1/4Ton Pickup
FC-170 
1958 FC-150 1Ton,JA-3CB(AU Only) 
1959 DJ-Surrey,Gala
Maverick Utility Wagon 4x2 
1960 Fleet Vans US Postal Contract 
1961 Fleet Van Walk-in Delivery Truck 
1962 FC-170 1-Ton Platform 4x4
6-cyl Introduction 
 
 
Jeep logo®

 


1963  Name Change Kaiser Jeep® Corp.
Wagoneer/Gladiator-Series J-100-310 
1964 Jeep®CJ5A "Tuxedo Park" 
1965 DJ-5 DJ-6
(M606 V-8 Foreign Market Only) 
1966 No Major Changes "Dauntless" V-6 Introduction 
1967 Jeep® M-715
Jeepster Commando 
1968 Jeepster Commando 
1969 CJ-6 "462 Limited Edition" 

AMC logo

1970 American Motor Corporation AMC purchased Kaiser-Jeep 
1971 No Changes 
1972 CJ-5 Hard Top 
1973 J-Trucks Quadra-Trac 4WD Option
CJ-5 Renegade 
1974 Jeep® Cherokee S 
1975 Cherokee Chief,J-Series Pickup Pioneer 
1976 CJ-7 "Automatic Transmission",J10 Honcho 
1977 CJ-5/7 "Golden Eagle" 
1978 No Major Changes
CJ-5 Limited Edition "Silver Anniversary" 
1979 No Major Changes 
1980 CJ-Larado Edition 
1981 CJ-8 "Scrambler", J10 Larado Pickup
1982 CJ-7 Limited Introduced. 1982 was the first year that the AMC 304 V8 was no longer offered as an option. 
1983 Select-Trac Replaces Quadra-Trac
Beijing Jeep® Corp. Joing Venture AMC 
1984 Cherokee Down Size XJ
End of CJ-5 Production,4-cyl Intro 
1985 XJ Pioneer Four Door Wagon 
1986 End of CJ Series Modoels,Wrangler YJ Intro.
Commanche mini Pickup,Based On XJ Series 

    chrysler logo®

 
1987 AMC-Jeep® Eagle Sold To Chrysler Corperation 8-5-87 
1993 Jeep® Grand Cherokee ZJ Intro. 
1995 Last Jeep® YJ Produced 
1996 No Jeep® Wranglers YJ's Produced 
1997 Jeep® TJ Introduction 

Daimler Chrysler®

1998 Mercedes Benz and Chrysler merge to form Daimler Chrysler.
1999 Jeep® Grand Cherokee® WJ
2000 Jeep® Sales Sore
2002 Jeep® Liberty introduced 
2003 Jeep® Rubicon introduced 

 

Click here for graph of production of Jeep models.





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