There aren’t many 100%-built American vehicles left. Domestic Content rules and regulations have made a mess out of that. But one vehicle stands out from the crowd, both as a long-standing example of American pride and the standard to which all similar vehicles are compared to.
The vehicle that gets my vote here is the original Willys Jeep. And this vehicle is so legendary… where is the place to start?
They were actually called the Willys MB Jeep; there was the Willys MA Jeep, which was an early production run model. But most of us just call them Jeeps. And the 60-hp “Go Devil” engine got all of them through the war.
And though many folks think that the name “Jeep” was derived from “GP (possibly “General Purpose);” others suggest it came from the cartoon character “Eugene the Jeep,” from the Popeye series. The debate will continue forever.
But the Jeep was/is truly original, has remained popular to this day, and even with updates, remains true to its original form and purpose. Basic, rugged, simple on- and off-road transportation. They say that, if a Jeep with chains on its tires can’t get there, then nothing can. And I can’t argue with that.
They were so popular with soldiers during World War II, many Jeeps were sent to their custodians when they came back to the USA; their car/Jeep lust did not end with V-J Day, V-E Day, or any time after the war ended. The first CJ-1 (Civilian Jeep) Jeep prototypes were almost identical to the military versions, except that they had a tailgate, drawbar, and a civilian-style canvas top. Several pre-production models followed until the first model, the 1945-1949 Willys-Overland CJ-2A, was offered for sale.
In “White Christmas“ (My favorite Holiday movie), the Jeep makes two appearances, both as a military personnel carrier (left) and later as General Waverly’s personal civilian ride at his Vermont ski lodge (below).
So I guess he, too, liked the vehicle so much that he decided he’d get one after the war was over. Even Bing got to drive it some. (I have sometimes wondered if that’s not the same Jeep, used in both scenes.)
The Jeep is the star of way too many movies to list in this post, but you can catch up on them here at the IMDB. And on TV, where would M*A*S*H have been without their trusty Jeeps? In fact, one of them is still “on location” more 34 years after the show’s finale, at the site where M*A*S*H was filmed.
This is the 2012 Jeep Wrangler, pretty much identical to the 2017. And at 76 years young, today’s Jeep looks pretty much like the first one. But instead of 60 ponies, the new one has 280 coming from its 3.6-liter V-6.
Yes, they make a 4-door, but you know what? This is the new Jeep I’d get; the classic 2-door. Let the folks in the rear climb over. Better yet, take the back seat out and let them get their own ride.
But I’d get a hardtop for the winter months. Maybe some slightly larger wheels and tires to fill in some of that wheel arch space. And I’d get the Sports Package, which includes A/C, power windows, remote entry, and cruise control. You know, the basic necessities.
A new Jeep Wrangler, the JL, will be here in the Fall. Rumors say that the windshield will be sloped farther backward and won’t fold down. The roll bar may be gone, replaced by body stampings. And a Jeep Wrangler pickup is not far off.
It would be fun to have a Jeep on the 4th of July. Take it to the park. Eat some barbeque, enjoy the watermelon, and right after dark, go see some fireworks. And what better vehicle is there to watch them from than sitting in a trusty old (or new) Jeep?
Image Credits: Our first Jeep image is from Willys-Jeep-mb. The 3 Jeeps image montage was found at AllPar.com. The first “White Christmas” frame image is from IMCDB.org. The second “White Christmas” Jeep image is from Pinimg.com. The 2012 2-door Jeep photo is from AutoFigures.com. The final Jeep logo came fromStationBay.com.