The Jeep Is 75 Years Old And Tougher Than Ever

History
Jeeps on display at Aldham Old Time Rally in 2015.
Photo via Flickr

War is one of if not the most effective agents of invention. And World War II, being the greatest conflict in global history, gave rise to industrial, technological, and mechanical advancements in a way that no era had witnessed before. It heralded the age of the computer, brought about nuclear warfare, and gave us a vehicle so iconic, and so badass, that we still drive it today: the Jeep.


During World War I, the world’s strongest militaries made moves to mechanize. Automobiles, as a result, became a big part of that. In order to stay competitive, the U.S. Army developed four-wheel drive trucks with the help of Four Wheel Drive Auto (FWD) and the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. And while those vehicles, known as the Marmon-Herrington converted Ford 1/2 ton truck, sufficed for the first world war, they would not be advanced enough for the second.

Shortly before the start of World War II, the Department of War decided it would require a light reconnaissance vehicle. It started out by soliciting 135 manufacturers in 1940, including Ford, American Bantam Car Company, and Willys Overland Motors. Bantam won the bid as the only company that claimed it could deliver a preliminary model in 49 days and production examples in 75.

But because of financial issues, Willys ultimately piggybacked off the Bantam pilot design to win the Army’s contract. However, because the War Department needed a higher volume of production in a relatively short time, Willys gave the United States Government a non-exclusive license, which allowed Ford to manufacture vehicles with its design.

The initial cost per vehicle for Willys vehicle was $648.74, and Ford’s was $782.59 per unit. And the two companies produced roughly 640,000 Jeeps between 1941 and 1945.

Thus the first General Purpose vehicles were born: The Willys Quad and the Ford “Pygmy.” Though the etymology is debated, lore suggests that General Purpose or G.P. was slurred to “jeep,” and the name stuck. However, this can’t be confirmed.

When the war was over, the market for automobiles opened up and presented a huge opportunity for Willys to sell the now famous Jeep to civilians.

The CJ-1, or Civilian Jeep 1, was fielded in May of 1945. It would eventually undergo seven iterations before being replaced in 1987 by the wildly popular Jeep Wrangler that we still see produced today.

But during those three decades, ownership of the civilian Jeep brand changed hands numerous times. Willys Overland was sold to Kaiser Motors in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep a decade later. With profits falling, American Motors Corporation then bought it out in 1970, which was able to stabilize the brand before it was purchased once more by Chrysler Corporation.

But the military branch of the Jeep empire remained separate. In 1971, it was placed under American Motors Corporations government segment AM General. And although the civilian segment was bought by Chrysler, AM General maintained the military Jeep brand. Then in 1979, the company leveraged Jeep capability into the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, known to most service members today as “the Humvee.”

While the Humvee was ousted in 2015 by Oshkosh’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle because of the Army’s need for armored vehicles, the Army returned to Jeep for a different vehicle — a light, unarmored tactical vehicle.

According to Fox, earlier in 2016, the Army commissioned Hendrick Dynamics to developed a modified light off-road vehicle. And the company to build it on a Jeep Wrangler with a modified JP-8 diesel engine. The Army called it “the Commando,” and it’s now officially designated as a Grand Mobility Vehicle.

And now, 75 years after the release of the very first General Purpose vehicle, Jeep has fielded dozens of models of sport utility vehicles across the defense and civilian space, and become a legend in the automobile industry.

According to a statement by Chrysler Jeep, “For 75 years the Jeep brand has been indelibly linked to freedom, adventure, authenticity and passion.”

Chief Mass Communication Spc. Keith DeVinney sleeps between exercises during Fleet Combat Camera Pacific's Winter Quick Shot 2013 combined field training exercise in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa, Calif., Feb. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair)

(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who experience sleep problems during basic combat training may be more likely to struggle with psychological distress, attention difficulties, and anger issues during their entry into the military, a recent study suggests.

"These results show that it would probably be useful to check in with new soldiers over time because sleep problems can be a signal that a soldier is encountering difficulties," said Amanda Adrian, lead author of the study and a research psychologist at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"Addressing sleep problems early on should help set soldiers up for success as they transition into their next unit of assignment," she said by email.

Read More Show Less
The Armed Forces Service Medal has a green, blue and yellow ribbon and a bronze medal featuring a torch like that held by the Statue of Liberty. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."

The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.

There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.

Read More Show Less
Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

Read More Show Less
Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)

U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Read More Show Less