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Jeep: America's Most Patriotic Vehicle

May 26, 2014

In honor of Memorial Day 2014, we'd love to talk about the history of Jeep, America's most patriotic vehicle.  The first Jeeps were produced by Willys MB in 1941, making them the oldest off-road vehicles ever.  The Jeep went on to inspire other makes and models such as the Land Rover.  

The orignine of the name Jeep is said to have a similar origin as teh Humvee, or HMMWV, High-Mobility Multi-purposed Wheeled Vehicle where the phrase Government Purpose was slurred from GP to Jeep, although the phrase was used in the miliatry before that.  However, it is also said that the brand got it's name from the troops who named it after the little dog in Popeye.  The Pentagon gives Jeep a definition: 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.

In 1941 Willys showed off the Jeep's off-road abilities by driving it up the steps of the United States Capitol.  During World War II the government requested fleets, and over 640,000 Jeeps were produced by both Ford and Willys and enlsited into the military.  They accounted for 18% of all four wheeled military vehicles in the war.  Ford even built an amphibious jeep, they cleverly named the "Seep" - sea jeep, which turned out to be neither a good boat, or off-road vehicle.  Jeep went on to serve in the Viatnam war, and well, every war since.  

After the war Jeeps became increasingly popular and new models were in the works, including a submarine-like jeep that could drive underwater.  The Civilian Jeep series began in 1945.  

Over the years Jeep ownership has changed hands, starting with Willys back in 1940's, and then sold to Kaiser Motors in 1953, but they failed to make money.  American Motors Corporation purchased the brand in 1970 and finally bought out again by Chrsyler in 1987.  

Jeep's biggest selling point to not only the military, but to consumers is it's off-road capabilities.  Jeep's most iconic model, the Wrangler, is one of few remaining four-wheel vehicles with solid front and rear axles.  Their axles were durable, strong and most importantly, very easily customizable.  The solid axles made it very easy to lift the vehicle, and upgrade it's wheels and suspension to create an even more efficent off-roading fury.    Besides the Wrangler, the Jeep brand has also expanded over the years to produce an excellent line of sporty SUV's and vehicles such as the Cherokee, Compass, Renegade, and even the so-properly-named Patriot.    

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