From the humble beginnings as basically a weapon on four wheels to today’s lineup of stylish SUVs, Jeep’s history is an interesting and unique one in the automotive world. Born out of necessity and arms race at the beginning of Second World War, Jeep grew from a military vehicle to a world class off-road brand which dominates the global market. Let’s see how everything started…
In the late ‘30s, it was clear that the world is going to be engaged in another bloody conflict and the US Army started developing army and military vehicles. Soon they realized that the military needs a small, light and reliable off-road vehicle for various battlefield duties. The army asked car manufacturers for prototypes and soon Ford, Willys, and Bantam delivered cars for testing. Those early models proved to be very tough and capable cars and those companies were awarded with a lucrative contract to produce it in high number just as the war started.
From the moment the Jeeps went into service, they were crucial to the Allies’ success on the front. From the muddy forests of the Normandy and sandy dunes of the Northen Africa to the Pacific front and the Liberation of Europe, Jeep was a faithful companion to Allied forces, earning praises for its toughness, durability, and quality. Even the famous Gen. Patton referred to the Jeep as one of the most important weapons in winning the Second World War.
After the war, Willys company obtained the rights to the Jeep name and products, so it started producing Jeeps as farm or work vehicles. The basic construction and off-road capabilities proved to be very useful for various civilian duties. However, Willys soon realized that the market for off-road vehicles was far greater and started introducing new forms, soon introducing Jeeps as everyday cars for people who needed capable cars. After the Willys Overland came Jeep Wagoneer which was the first true SUV, combining elegance with the capability of a Jeep.
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Jeeps become very popular as lifestyle cars with the plush Wagoneer and capable Wrangler. Besides that, Jeep was still used as a military vehicle by many of the world`s armies and saw duty in Korean and Vietnam war as well. In those days, Jeep and Land Rover were the only off-road companies in the world and Jeep had wider appeal and more interesting products.
In the early ‘80s, Jeep made another revolution by introducing a new Cherokee. This was the definitive SUV model for the era which combined modern design and features, powerful engines and off-road powertrain and proved capable of tackling every situation. The Cherokee was very popular and stayed in production until 1996 showed the way for further development of SUV class.
Today, Jeep is one of the key players in SUV and off-road vehicle market. With 7 models in the current lineup, there is a Jeep for anybody. From Wrangler Unlimited made for hardcore off-road fans to Grand Cherokee for urban buyers, Jeep is the ultimate off road with heritage and tradition that is unique in the industry.