Birth of an Icon – The Early Days
For 75 years the Jeep® brand has been indelibly linked to freedom, adventure, authenticity and passion. The brand’s unwavering commitment to strength and meaningful engineering has helped forge an extraordinary, uncommon bond between the vehicles and their owners.Read More
1940 – 1950
Born in the heat of battle, the Go-Anywhere, Do-Anything® Jeep® 4×4 emerged a hero to thousands of Allied soldiers around the world. The equally heroic civilian Jeep vehicles of the 1940s firmly established the Jeep brand as the undisputed leader in 4×4 technology.
1940 WILLYS QUAD – THE FIRST JEEP® 4×4
In June 1940, with World War II on the horizon, the U.S. Army solicited bids from 135 automakers for a 1/4 ton “light reconnaissance vehicle” Read More
Willys-Overland delivered the prototype “Quad” (named for the 4×4 system it featured), to the U.S. Army on Armistice Day (Veteran’s Day), November of 1940. The design was completed in a remarkable 75 days.
Only two prototypes were made.
1941 WILLYS MA – THE LEND-LEASE JEEP® 4×4
The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument Read More
After arduous testing, Willys-Overland was awarded the contract in July of 1941 calling for the production of 16,000 revised MB models at a unit price of $738.74. Most of the MA’s were sent to the United States Allies in Russia and England under the Lend-Lease program. Today, the MA is the rarest of all pre-production Willys, with only about thirty models known to exist.
Improvements to the Willys MA over the Quad included: a handbrake; single piece wheels; rounded door cutouts; two circular-mounted instrument clusters; and a steering-column mounted gear shift.
1941-1945 WILLYS MB
FORGED IN BATTLE
It’s the stuff of legend; the U.S. Army requested a vehicle – and drove off in a hero. The Willys MB, its spirit forged by the fireRead More
The tough, simple, Jeep® 4×4 became the GI’s best friend – second only to his rifle. One MB was even awarded a Purple Heart and sent home. General George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff during World War II, and later U.S. Secretary of State, described the Jeep 4×4 as “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare”. Scripps Howard WWII Reporter Ernie Pyle once said, “It did everything. It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going.”
The MB started a revolution in the use of small military motor vehicles in the U.S. Army. Horses along with motorcycles, solo and side car, wererendered obsolete almost immediately. The all-purpose MB was amazingly versatile. They could be fitted with .30 or .50 caliber machine guns for combat. They were also widely modified for long range desert patrol, snow plowing, telephone cable laying, saw milling, as fire-fighting pumpers, field ambulances, tractors and, with suitable wheels, would even run on railway tracks.
MB’s could be loaded into transport aircraft for rapid deployment and were also small enough to fit into the large gliders used in the D-day invasion of Europe. Over the course of the war, customized field kits were developed for winter and desert conditions, deep-water fording, and other combat needs.
Although the Willys MB was not the first four-wheel-drive vehicle, the Go anywhere, Do anything® Jeep vehicle influenced every 4×4 built in its wake. The New York Museum of Modern Art includes a military Jeep 4×4 in its display of eight automobiles and regarded it as “one of the very few genuine expressions of machine art.”
1945-1949 JEEP CJ-2A
THE FIRST CIVILIAN JEEP® (CJ)
The mighty Willys MB emerged out of the cauldron of war ready for peace time service. The legendary G.I. workhorseRead More
According to Willys-Overland, there were 5.5 million farmers in the U.S., and of these, more than 4 million had neither a truck nor a tractor. The rugged and versatile CJ-2A was marketed by Willys-Overland as “The All-Around Farm Work-Horse”. It could do the job of two heavy draft horses, operating at a speed of four miles per hour, 10 hours a day, without overheating the engine. The CJ-2A “Universal” was to serve agriculture and industry all over the world in a thousand different ways.
Willys-Overland also advertised the CJ-2A as “A Powerhouse on Wheels”, pitching it as a work vehicle and mobile power to the masses. A variety of farm implements and industrial tools were devised for use in conjunction with an onboard power take-off unit. A belt-driven governor was controlled from the instrument panel, allowing regulation of engine speeds from 1,000 to 2,600 rpm. Sales were brisk despite the glut of MBs on the war surplus market.
Cash awards were offered by Popular Science magazine for “Ideas on Peacetime Jobs for Jeeps”. The contest stimulated America’s ingenuity and innovative nature. Soon, Jeep® vehicles were used as the platform for hundreds of applications. Of particular note: from 1949-1964, either a complete Jeep vehicle or chassis was used on all Zamboni® ice resurfacing machines. In 1949, the Model A took 10 minutes to do a job that used to take over an hour-and-a-half.
A much-modified version of the MB, the 1945 CJ-2A (MSRP: $1,090) had “Willys” embossed on the hood sides and windshield frame. It was offered to the public with better shock absorbers, springs and more comfortable seats for added comfort, revised transmission and transfer case gear ratios allowing low-speed hauling and highway speeds as high as 60 mph, beefier clutch, better cooling, a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, larger 7-inch headlights, an external fuel cap, a reinforced frame for greater rigidity, and an automatic windshield wiper on the driver’s side.
1949-1953 JEEP CJ-3A
The CJ-3A is considered by many to be the father of recreation vehicles. Introduced in late 1948,Read More
A farm version was offered from 1951-1953 and featured the options most farmers asked for, including a hydraulic lift, engine governor, drawbar, driveshaft guards and heavy-duty springs. A rear Power Take-Off and front bumper weights were optional.
The Jeep Tractor was a stripped-down version of the CJ-3A. It was bare bones to the point of having only one seat, no lights, front shocks, horn, tailgate or windshield. The Jeep Tractor featured a hydraulic 3-point lift and drawbar – and plenty of guts!
The engines were visually identical to the 2-series, “Go-Devil,” but featured revised piston and valve-tappet clearances, as well as a different flywheel. Front passenger leg and knee room were improved (rear passengers lost some room).
1955-1983 JEEP® CJ-5
Civilian Jeep for the Masses
In October 11, 1954, Kaiser announced the arrival of the CJ-5, and featured softer styling lines,Read More
Big news in 1965 was getting a new “Dauntless” V6 engine that produced 155 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. The V6 nearly double the power of the standard four-cylinder engine. Beginning in 1973, all Jeep CJs came equipped with AMC-built 304- or 360-cubic-inch V-8 engines. Spanning thirty years, the CJ-5 had the longest production run of any Jeep vehicle, and in the sixteen years of Kaiser ownership, Jeep vehicle manufacturing plants were established in thirty foreign countries, with Jeep vehicles marketed in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Many special editions were offered, including the 1964-1967 “luxury” Tuxedo Park, the 1969 Camper, the 1969 “462”, the 1970 Renegade I, the 1971 Renegade II, the 1972-1983 Golden Eagle, and 1973 and 1976 Super Jeep. The CJ-5 was a popular vehicle in fire departments and was outfitted to help put out brush fires. A two-wheel driver version DJ-5 was offered through 1974. A popular and enduring legend, the CJ-5 has probably logged more trail miles than any other Jeep vehicle.