History of Jeep/AMC/Eagle Corporations

History of Jeep/AMC/Eagle Corporations

Getting to the modern Chrysler Corporation is an interesting journey that starts, really, in the age of an automotive renaissance. Like pieces of a puzzle that fit together to create the picture of what we know is the home to brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat today it pays to be attentive to the history behind them.

Let's start with the Jeeps

Let's start with the Jeep

Perhaps one of the most interesting points in the history of this modern, conglomerated Chrysler Corporation is the fact that many of the larger companies that were absorbed into it were around for years preceding its founding. Officially founded in 1925, the Jeep brand would only come to fit under its corporate umbrella when Chrysler acquired American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987.

This isn't to say that the Jeep brand wasn't already a world-recognized phenomenon, and, in fact, it was the primary reason that Chrysler took interest in AMC in the first place.

Back during the period of the Second World War, the United States Army reached out to a 135 automotive-related companies asking for working prototypes for a four-wheel-drive reconnaissance car to aid in the efforts overseas. American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland were the only to respond. Bantam hired on Karl Probst, who worked without salary but addressed the tight deadline with innovation and, if we can skim over the period, created a working prototype for testing purposes by September 21st.

Known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), the Army, recognizing that their need would not be met by Bantam's possible production output, presented the designs to Willys-Overland and Ford who went on to make their own reconnaissance vehicles.

The name "Jeep" is one that is somewhat masked in theories more than facts, with some that suggest it comes from the term Government Purposes (GP) or General Purposes (GP) and is a result of a slurring of the initialism or neologism. Others note that the word Jeep appears as early as the First World War, while others still consider the name to owe its origins to randomness.

Whatever the case may be, the Jeeps rolled out and in 1943 Willys-Overland filed for a brand-name application for Jeep and went on to make the first Civilian Jeep (CJ) in 1945. Post Second World War, Willys-Overland was the only company that continued to produce Jeep products and in 1950 was finally granted the ownership of the name Jeep as a registered trademark.

Switching owners over the following decades looked something like this: Willys-Overland to Kaiser Motors (in 1953) which became Kaiser-Jeep (in 1963).

American Motors Company

American Motors Company

American Motors Company enters the scene in 1970, although their history is much longer than that, having been founded in 1954. While it may have been a little unperturbed by modern standards considering the companies that existed prior to the proper founding of AMC, the company was able to piggyback on their previous fleets and reported in 1956 that they had produced over 2,000,000 cars.

Despite its share of curious shifts over the years, AMC remained relatively strong in the North American market for decades. AMC purchased Kaiser's Jeep outfit in 1970 and was reinvented in 1979 by French automaker Renault who invested in AMC in 1979.

On December 14th, 1987, the last AMC, the Eagle Wagon, left the assembly line.

Financial troubles resulted in Chrysler stepping in by 1987 and purchased AMC as well as its assets.

What Chrysler Tried to do with the Eagle Brand

What Chrysler Tried to do with the Eagle Brand

The following year that Chrysler acquired AMC, they launched a remarkably short-lived brand under the name Eagle. It is somewhat poetic that the last vehicle to be produced wholly be AMC became the name of a company that did poorly over its short existence.

The issue that most people point to is the fact that the Eagle brand had no reputation in the industry and its connection to Chrysler was greatly underplayed, even though they were sold in Chrysler-Plymouth, Dodge, and Mitsubishi dealerships under a variety of names.

The decade since it launched continued on the trend of slow sales and the last Eagle branded-vehicle rolled off production lines in 1998.

What has continued, however, is the naming convention, as Lee Iacocca, the Chairman of Chrysler had intended to use the name Liberty for the Eagle lineup, it would eventually carry to the Jeep brand.

A merger in 1998 with Daimler-Benz formed DaimlerChrysler operating under the Chrysler Group LLC until December 2014 when FIAT and Chrysler joined and became FIAT Chrysler Automobiles where the brand continues to evolve with new and incredible models.

Find your modern Jeep today at Marine Chrysler - your dealership for superior quality and the inventory you deserve!