Seventy-five years of Jeep. That’s quite an accomplishment for an automaker that started out supplying military vehicles during World War II.
Jeep is celebrating its 75th anniversary all year, but July 15th is widely considered its actual birthday. That’s when the U.S. government awarded Willys-Overland the contract to build the Willys MB in 1941. The military was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle” to replace the Army’s motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T vehicles. The Army invited automakers to bid on production and developed a lengthy specification list for the vehicle, including a 600-lb. load capacity, wheelbase less than 75 inches, height less than 36 inches, smooth-running engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour, rectangular-shaped body, four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, fold-down windshield, three bucket seats, blackout and driving lights and a gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs.
The Willys MB helped the Allies win World War II and, of course, later became affectionally known as the “Jeep.”
Here’s a look a Jeep through the ages, from its military beginnings to its civilian off-roading, rock-climbing present.