How the Jeep came into civilian use post war

How the Jeep came into civilian use post war

The original Jeep was the result of an urgent wartime bidding process that the US government set up in July 1940. Although a number of less formal proposals preceded this by two or three years, the full and final specifications for this key element of WWII-era mechanized warfare weren't released to the North American auto industry until 1940.

To say the timeline was tight might be an understatement. In the end, only 2 (out of a whopping 135) manufacturers managed to produce a prototype of this lightweight, multifunctional recon vehicle in 49 days: American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland Motors. Ford joined the bidding later on, and ended up producing nearly half of all wartime Jeep vehicles.

The design and production competition proved fierce, and the models that entered the war were a combination of each company's designs and production capacity - which, at least in American Bantam's case, was vanishingly and sadly small. By the end of the war, Willys-Overland produced 363,000 Jeeps to Ford's 280,000.

How the Jeep came into civilian use post war

Regardless of manufacturer, the design of the original Jeep was strong, and only got stronger as Willys and Ford's collaboration deepened. True to design, the baseline Jeep saw action in every major theater of WWII, and it was hailed for its reliability and maneuverability in a wide range of terrains and mission profiles.

By 1944, Willys-Overland saw that the Jeep had commercial potential to match its wartime performance. The 1944 CJ-1 (for "Civilian Jeep") prototype has been lost to history, however. The CJ-2 was likewise never sold to the public.

Powered by the battle-tested L134 "Go-Devil" engine, the CJ-2A was the first commercially available Jeep, and its military pedigree goes even deeper than that; due to some early labor problems, many commercial CJ-2A vehicles were actually produced with surplus parts.

How the Jeep came into civilian use post war

It's tough to look at the early Willys Jeep models and not see the origins of today's Jeep Wrangler. From high ground clearance, to the removable top, to the distinct 7-slot grille, the ingredients were all there over 50 years ago. The roots of today's Jeep lineup run deep indeed!

But how was this capable 4x4 marketed to North American consumers? Let's take a look at an ad:

Versatility has always been the name of the game where Jeep is concerned - even as far back as 1948. 4-wheel-drive performance in a variety of terrains and weather conditions continues to be a hallmark of the modern Jeep, and the Trail Rated® system proves it in exacting detail.

Every Jeep you can find at Marine Chrysler has been graded for the features key to off-road performance: traction, articulation, maneuverability, ground clearance, and water fording. So whether you're looking for a family SUV to negotiate the streets of Metro Vancouver or a 4x4 off-road powerhouse to tackle the toughest terrain Canada has to offer, the Marine Chrysler team is ready to show you just how adaptable today's Jeep can be.

There's a lot of information out there about the military and civilian origins of today's Jeep. Check these sites to get started!

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