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Jeep is an automobile marque (and registered trademark) of Chrysler. It is the oldest off-road vehicle (also sport utility vehicle – SUV) brand, with Land Rover coming in second. The original vehicle which first appeared as the prototype Bantam BRC became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the US Army and allies during the World War II and postwar period. Many vehicles serving similar military and civilian roles have since been created by many nations. Jeeps were also used by the U.S. Postal Service in the 20th century for mail services.


Origin of the term "jeep"

There are many explanations of the origin of the word "jeep," all of which have proven difficult to verify. Probably the most popular notion holds that the vehicle bore the designation "GP" (for "Government Purposes" or "General Purpose"), which was phonetically slurred into the word jeep. However, R. Lee Ermey, on his television series Mail Call, disputes this, saying that the vehicle was designed for specific duties, was never referred to as "General Purpose," and that the name may have been derived from Ford's nomenclature referring to the vehicle as GP (G for government use, and P to designate its wheelbase). "GP" does appear in connection with the vehicle in the TM 9-803 manual, which describes the vehicle as a machine, and the vehicle is designated a "GP" in TM 9-2800, Standard Motor Vehicles, September 1, 1949, but whether the average jeep-driving GI would have been familiar with either of these manuals is open to debate.

Many, including Ermey, suggest that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicles that they informally named it after Eugene the Jeep, a character in the Popeye cartoons that "could go anywhere."

Words of the Fighting Forces by Clinton A. Sanders, a dictionary of military slang, published in 1942, in the library at The Pentagonmarker gives this definition:

Jeep: A four-wheel drive vehicle of one-half- to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the bantam-cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the ½-ton command vehicle. Also referred to as "any small plane, helicopter, or gadget."

This definition is supported by the use of the term "jeep carrier" to refer to the Navy's small escort carriers.

Early in 1941, Willys-Overland demonstrated the vehicle's off-road capability by having it drive up the steps of the United States Capitolmarker, driven by Willy's test driver Irving "Red" Haussman, who had recently heard soldiers at Fort Holabirdmarker calling it a "jeep." When asked by syndicated columnist Katherine Hillyer for the Washington Daily News (or by a bystander, according to another account) what it was called, Irving answered, "It's a jeep."

Katherine Hillyer's article was published nationally on February 20, 1941, and included a picture of the vehicle with the caption:

LAWMAKERS TAKE A RIDE- With Senator Meade, of New York, at the wheel, and Representative Thomas, of New Jersey, sitting beside him, one of the Army's new scout cars, known as "jeeps" or "quads", climbs up the Capitol steps in a demonstration yesterday. Soldiers in the rear seat for gunners were unperturbed.

This exposure caused all other jeep references to fade, leaving the 4x4 truck with the name.

Willys-Overland Inc. was later awarded the sole privilege of owning the name "Jeep" as registered trademark.

The term was also in military slang use to mean something untried, or untested.

The origins of the vehicle: the first jeeps

Bantam BRC 40
Dashboard of World War II era jeep.
Jeep with 50 cal.
Browning machine gun
The first jeep prototype (the Bantam BRC) was built for the United States Army Quartermaster Corps (QMC) by American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvaniamarker, followed by two other competing prototypes produced by Ford and Willys-Overland. The American Bantam Car Company actually built and designed the vehicle that first met the Army's criteria, but its engine did not meet the Army's torque requirements. Plus, the Army felt that the company was too small to supply the number needed and it allowed Willys and Ford to make second attempts on their designs after seeing Bantam's vehicle in action.

Quantities (1,500) of each of the three models were then extensively field tested. During the bidding process for 16,000 "jeeps", Willys-Overland's chief engineer Delmar "Barney" Roos made extensive design changes to meet a revised weight specification (a maximum of , including oil and water). He was thus able to retain a powerful but comparatively heavy engine, and thus won the initial contract. Willys had designed what would become the standardized jeep, designating it a model MB military vehicle and building it at their plant in Toledo, Ohiomarker.

After another round of testing in June 1941, the three designs from Bantam, Ford, and Willys were judged acceptable, with the Willys model having a more powerful engine and transmission, as well as a stronger frame and radiator. The QMC moved to release contracts for mass production. Bantam was not prepared as Ford or Willys to undertake large-scale production despite its early role in developing the basic design. Although the QMC supported the production to Ford, the experiences in World War I made the Army insistent on standardization. Ford made a concession to manufacture the Willis design, and "sweetened" the deal by providing tooling for critical components which would be bottlenecks for mass-production (axles, constant velocity joints, and transfer cases). Willys also decided to offer their design as an "irrevocable non-exclusive license to the U.S. Government" rather than risk losing business in a future "winner-take-all" contract.

The Army designated 1/4-ton 4x4 Truck built by Willys-Overland were Model MB, while vehicles built by Ford were Model GPW (G = government vehicle, P designated the 80" wheelbase, and W = the Willys engine design). There were several differences between the two. The versions produced by Ford had every component (including bolt heads) marked with Ford logos. Willys also followed the Ford pattern by stamping its name into body parts, but stopped this in 1942. The cost per vehicle trended upwards as the war continued from the price under the first contract from Willys at US$648.74 (Ford's was $782.59 per unit). Willys and Ford, under the direction of Charles E. Sorensen (Vice-President of Ford during World War II), produced more than 600,000 jeeps. Besides just being a "truck" the jeep was used for many other purposes.

The jeep was widely copied around the world, including in France by Delahaye and by Hotchkiss et Cie (after 1954, Hotchkiss manufactured Jeeps under license from Willys), and in Japan by Mitsubishi Motors. There were several versions created, including a railway jeep and an amphibious jeep. As part of the war effort, Jeeps were also supplied to the Soviet Red Army during World War II. During the jeep's service in Korea the name was referred to as "Just Enough Essential Parts" by the troops due to the very basic design.

The utilitarian good looks of the original Jeep have been hailed by industrial designers and museum curators alike. The Museum of Modern Art described the Jeep as a masterpiece of functionalist design, and has periodically exhibited the Jeep as part of its collection.

As a generic military term, "Jeep" is often used to describe any small military Light Utility Vehicle similar to the original Willy MB jeep. In the United States military, the jeep has been supplanted by a number of vehicles (e.g. Ford's M151 MUTT) of which the latest is the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or "Humvee").

Jeeps became famous following the war, as they became available on the surplus market. Some ads claimed to offer "Jeeps still in the factory crate" as a way to get people to buy information on US surplus sales (this information was available free from the government). This legend has persisted since the 1940's, despite the fact that Jeeps were, in fact, never shipped from the factory in crates.

Another legend -- true, in this case -- rising around the Jeep comes from the Jeepney, a unique type of taxi or bus created in the Philippinesmarker. The first Jeepneys were military-surplus MB and GPWs, left behind in the war-ravaged country following WWII and Filipino independence. Jeepneys were built from Jeeps by lengthening and widening the rear "tub" of the vehicle, allowing more passengers to ride. Over the years, Jeepneys have become the most ubiquitous symbol of the modern Philippines, even as they have been decorated in more elaborate and flamboyant styles by their owners.

The M715

Jeep M715
In 1965, Jeep developed the M715 1.25 ton army truck, which served extensively in Vietnam. Today it serves other countries, and is still being produced by Kia under license.The CJ ("Civilian Jeep") series began in 1945 with the CJ2A. These early Jeeps are commonly referred to as "flatfenders" because their front fenders were flat across the front, even with the grill. The CJ-4 exists only as a 1951 prototype, and is the missing link between the flatfendered CJ-2's and 3' and the round-fendered CJ-5.

The Jeep marque

The marque has gone through many owners, starting in 1941 with Willys, which produced the first Civilian Jeep . Willys was sold to Kaiser in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. American Motors (AMC) purchased Kaiser's money-losing Jeep operations in 1970. The utility vehicles complemented AMC's passenger car business by sharing components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep's international and government markets.

The French automaker Renault began investing in AMC in 1979. However, by 1987, the automobile markets had changed and even Renault itself was experiencing financial troubles. At the same time, Chrysler Corporation wanted to capture the Jeep brand, as well as other assets of AMC. Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987, shortly after the Jeep CJ was replaced with the AMC-designed Jeep Wrangler or YJ. Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler eventually sold most of their interest in Chrysler to a private equity company in 2007. Chrysler and the Jeep division now operate under the name Chrysler Group LLC.

Jeeps have been built under licence by various manufacturers around the world including Mahindra in India, EBRO in Spain, and several in South America. Mitsubishi built more than 30 different Jeep models in Japan between 1953 and 1998. Most of them were based on the CJ-3B model of the original Willys-Kaiser design.

Toledo, Ohiomarker has been the headquarters of the Jeep marque since its inception, and the city has always been proud of this heritage. Although no longer produced in the same factory as the World War II originals, two streets in the vicinity of the old plant are named Willys Parkway and Jeep Parkway.

American Motors set up the first automobile-manufacturing joint venture in the People's Republic of Chinamarker on January 15, 1984. The result was Beijing Jeep Corporation, Ltd., in partnership with Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation, to produce the Jeep Cherokee in Beijing. Manufacture continued after Chrysler's buyout of AMC. This joint venture is now part of DaimlerChrysler and DaimlerChrysler China Invest Corporation. The original 1984 XJ model was updated and called the "Jeep 2500" toward the end of its production that ended after 2005.

Jeep vehicles have "model designations" in addition to their common names. <<HTTP:></<HTTP:>/>>

A division of Chrysler Group LLC, the most recent successor company to Willys, now holds trademark status on the name "Jeep" and the distinctive 7-slot front grille design. The original 9-slot grille associated with all WW2 jeeps was designed by Ford for their GPW, and because it weighed less than the original "Slat Grille" of Willys, (an arrangement of flat bars) was incorporated into the "standardized jeep" design.

AM General

The history of the Humvee has ties with Jeep. In 1971, Jeep's Defense and Government Products Division was turned into AM General, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Motors Corporation, which also owned Jeep. In 1979, while still owned by American Motors, AM General began the first steps toward designing the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. AM General also continued manufacturing the DJ, which Jeep created in 1953.

The General Motors Hummer and Chrysler Jeep have been waging battle in US courts over the right to use seven slots in their respective radiator grills. Chrysler Jeep claims it has the exclusive rights to use the seven vertical slits since it is the sole remaining assignee of the various companies since Willys gave their post-war jeeps seven slots instead of Ford's nine-slot design for the Jeep.

Off-road abilities

Jeep Wrangler off-roading

Jeep advertising has always emphasized the vehicle's off-road capabilities. Today, the Wrangler is the only light-duty vehicle offered in North America with solid axles front and rear. These axles are known for their durability due to their overall strength and lack of rubber boots. Most Wranglers come with a Dana 35 rear axle and a Dana 30 up front. The upgraded Rubicon model of the Wrangler is equipped with electronically activated lockers, Dana 44 axles front and rear with 4.10 gears, a 4:1 transfer case and heavy duty shocks.

Another plus of solid axle vehicles is they tend to be easier and cheaper to "lift." This "lifting" increases the distance between the center of the axle hub and chassis of the vehicle. By increasing this distance, larger tires can be installed, which will increase the ground clearance of the Jeep, allowing it to traverse even larger and more difficult obstacles. Many owners equip theirs with roll-bars, taller tires, locking differentials, extra lights, and a winch to pull the vehicle out from the mud or sand when stuck.

Useful features of the smaller Jeeps are their short wheelbases, narrow frames, and ample approach, breakover, and departure angles, allowing them to fit places where full-size trucks could never go. Jeeps also feature a removable soft top (with available hard tops) and removable doors (half or full-sized) for fair weather, the only remaining utility vehicle so equipped.

Jeep events

The Jeep Jamboree

Jamborees are two-day off-road events held throughout the year in which Jeep owners can bring their friends and families to meet other Jeepers, tour scenic trails, and test the limits of their vehicles. Any Jeep with a low-range transfer case is allowed, although Full Size Jeeps require prior approval. Only registered participants are allowed to take part in the trail rides and activities; no spectators are allowed. Participants can choose to camp at a local campground, stay in a motel, or find other lodging. The day starts off with breakfast, followed by a general meeting that discusses the trail of the day, as well as the driving techniques required. The trail run is concluded by sundown.

Camp Jeep

Camp Jeep is an annual, three-day, multi-activity oriented event which includes mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, tubing, arts and crafts, and performances by top bands. Children are encouraged to participate as much as adults (events permitting). Man-made obstacle courses are also offered, as well as trail rides (although the latter must be reserved in advance). "Jeep 101" courses are offered for people just getting started in the off-road world, with experienced guides demonstrating proper driving techniques and the vehicles' 4x4 systems. There is no actual camping at Camp Jeep; participants may camp locally or stay at a motel.

Summary of Jeep ownership

Jeep model list

Historical and military models

World War II era jeep built by Ford, using the Willys-Overland design
Willys jeep

FC Trucks, VJ Jeepsters, & FJ Vans

  • 1948-1950 Willys VJ Jeepster
  • 1948-1949 VJ2 Jeepster
  • 1949-1951 VJ3 Jeepster
  • 1949 Alcoa Aluminum-bodied Jeepster Coupe (proto-type)
  • 1962 The Brazilian Jeepster (proto-type)
  • Jeepster Safari (concept)

(Foward Control Jeep)

(Fleetvan Jeep)

  • 1966-1971 C101- Jeepster Commando
    • Hurst Jeepster
    • Hurst Half Cab (only 100 produced)
    • Revival Jeepster
    • Commando convertible
    • open body roadster
  • 1972-1973 C104— Jeep Commando
    • Commando Half Cab

CJ models

(Civilian Jeep)
1982 Jeep Scrambler
  • 1944 Agrijeep CJ-1
  • 1944-1945 CJ-2
  • 1945-1949 CJ-2A
  • 1949-1953 CJ-3A
  • 1950 CJ-V35
  • 1950 CJ-4- Prototype
  • 1950 CJ-4M- Prototype
  • 1950 CJ-4MA- Prototypes
  • 1953-1968 CJ-3B
  • 1954-1983 CJ-5
    • 1961-1963 Tuxedo Park Mark III
    • 1969 Camper
    • 1969 462
    • 1970 Renegade I
    • 1971 Renegade II
    • 1972-1983 Renegade Models
    • 1973 Super Jeep
    • 1977-1980 Golden Eagle
    • 1977 Golden Eagle California Edition - limited production that were only available through California AMC Dealerships
    • 1980 Golden Hawk
    • 1979 Silver Anniversary CJ-5 Limited Edition - estimated that perhaps only 1,000 were ever built
  • 1955-1975 CJ-6
  • 1955-1968 CJ-3B Long- Spain
  • 1960-1977 Jeep Rural- Brazil
  • 1964-1967 CJ-5A/CJ-6A Tuxedo Park
  • 1976-1986 CJ-7
    • 1982 — Jamboree Limited Edition (2500 examples)
  • 1979 — CJ-5 Silver Anniversary Limited Edition - estimated that perhaps only 1000 were built)
  • 1981-1985 CJ-8 Scrambler
  • 1981-1985 CJ-10

DJ models

(Dispatcher Jeep)

SJ models

(Full Size Jeep)
1974 Cherokee S in action.

XJ models

  • 1984-2001 XJ Cherokee
    • 1984-2001 — Base "SE"
    • 1984-1988 — Chief
    • 1984-1990 — Pioneer
    • 1985-1992 — Laredo
    • 1987-1992/1998-2001 — Limited
    • 1988-2001 — Sport
    • 1991-1992 — Briarwood
    • 1993-1997 — Country
    • 1996-2001 — Classic
  • 1984-1990 XJ Wagoneer
    • 1984-1985 — Broughwood
    • 1984-1990 — Limited

MJ models

(Metric Ton Jeep Commanche)
  • 1986-1992 MJ Comanche
    • 1986 — Custom
    • 1986 — X
    • 1986 — XLS
    • 1987-1992 — Base SE
    • 1987-1990 — Chief
    • 1987-1992 — Laredo
    • 1987-1990 — Pioneer
    • 1987-1992 — SporTruck
    • 1987-1992 — Eliminator

YJ, TJ, LJ and JK models

(Jeep Wrangler)
1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ
  • 1987-1995 Wrangler YJ
    • 1991-1993 Renegade
    • 1988-1995 Wrangler Long- Venezuela

  • 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ, Sport, Sharaha models
    • 2002 TJ Se, X, Sport, Sharaha models
    • 2003 TJ Rubicon, Sahara, Sport, X, Se models
    • 2004-2006 LJ Unlimited(extended version TJ) Rubicon, Sport, X, Se models
    • 2004-2005 - Willys Edition (2004-1997 made, 2005-2001 made)
    • 2004 — Columbia Editionmarker
    • 2006 - Golden Eagle Edition

2006 Golden Eagle

  • 2007-2009 Wrangler JK

ZJ, WJ, and WK models

(Jeep Grand Cherokee)
First generation ZJ
1994 ZJ Laredo Model
  • 1993-1998 ZJ Grand Cherokee
    • 1993–1995 – Base SE
    • 1993–1998 – Laredo
    • 1993–1998 – Limited
    • 1995–1997 – Orvis "Limited Edition"
    • 1997–1998 – TSi
    • 1998 - 5.9 Limited
  • 1993 ZJ Jeep Grand Wagoneer

  • 1999-2004 WJ Grand Cherokee
    • 2002–2003 — Sport
    • 2002–2004 — Special edition
    • 2002–2004 — Overland
    • 2004 — Columbia Editionmarker

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee — Five-passenger family-oriented SUV.
    • WK — The newest Grand Cherokee, 2005-present ("WK" is the designator for the new Grand Cherokee, it is one of the few non-J-designated Jeeps).

KJ models

(Jeep Liberty)

Current models

The Jeep brand currently produces six models:

Concept vehicles

Jeeps around the world

Jeeps have been built and/or assembled around the world by various companies.

  • Argentina - IKA Jeeps 1956-current; now owned by Chrysler
  • Australia - Willys Motors Australia - 1940s-1980s
  • Belgium -
The Troller T4

Further reading

  • Hartwell D The Mighty Jeep American Heritage Magazine, Vol 12 No 1, December 1960

See also


  • Jeep, written by Jim Allen, published in 2001 by MBI Publishing Company
  • Standard catalog of JEEP, written by Patrick Foster, published in 2003 by Krause Publications


  2. "Invention of the Jeep" Waymark
  3. Leigh Brown, Patricia, Where Do You Hang The 747?, New York Times, December 13, 1998
  4. MOMA Press Release, The Museum of Modern Art Displays Entire Automotive Collection, page 2 (June 2002)
  5. Mann, Jim. (1997). Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3327-X.
  6. Dunne, Timothy. "Can Chrysler Rebound in China?" Business Week, November 2, 2007. Retrieved on January 22, 2008.
  7. Toledo-built Jeeps' sales results abroad mirror those in North American market
  15. Jeeps Around the World on The CJ3B Page
  16. Jeeps in Argentina on The CJ3B Page
  17. Jeeps in Australia on The CJ3B Page
  18. Jeeps in Brasil on The CJ3B Page
  19. Kaiser Jeep in Canada 1959-69 on The CJ3B Page
  20. Jeeps in Colombia on The CJ3B Page
  21. Jeeps in France on The CJ3B Page
  22. Mahindra Jeeps on The CJ3B Page
  23. Jeeps in Italy on The CJ3B Page
  24. Jeeps in Japan on The CJ3B Page
  25. Jeeps in Korea on The CJ3B Page
  26. Jeeps in Mexico on The CJ3B Page
  27. Jeeps in the Netherlands on The CJ3B Page
  28. Jeepneys of the Philippines on The CJ3B Page
  29., Philippine firm brings old WWII jeeps back to life
  30., Electric minibuses start commercial operations in Philippines
  31., Enforcers to drive E-jeeps
  32. Jeeps in Spain on The CJ3B Page
  33. Jeeps in Turkey on The CJ3B Page

External links

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