The Tribune (NZ) - - CARS -

Happy birth­day Jeep. In 1940, with war rag­ing in Europe, the US Gov­ern­ment is­sued a req­ui­si­tion for a ‘‘light re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cle’’ for the Army and in­vited 135 man­u­fac­tur­ers to bid on pro­duc­tion.

Willys-Over­land and the Ban­tam Car Com­pany were the only two to re­spond. The Ban­tam-based Willys-Over­land MA (M stands for Mil­i­tary and A in­di­cates the se­ries num­ber) pro­to­type led to the pro­duc­tion of the Over­land MB.

Whether the name Jeep is a con­trac­tion of ‘gen­eral pur­pose’, or taken from a 1936 Pop­eye car­toon char­ac­ter called Eu­gene The Jeep who had mag­i­cal prob­lem-solv­ing abil­i­ties, the name was trade-marked by Willys af­ter the war for a ve­hi­cle mar­keted as an off-road civil­ian util­ity for farms. This 1945-1949 CJ-2A claims to be the first mod­ern mass-pro­duc­tion off-road ve­hi­cle (CJ stands for Civil­ian Jeep).

In 1946 came the seven-seater Willys Wagon, ar­guably the first SUV (Sport Util­ity Ve­hi­cle), and the first all-steel-bod­ied sta­tion wagon to be sold as a non-com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle. 4WD was added in 1949.

In 1955, the CJ-5 with im­prove­ments in seat­ing com­fort be­came more of a recre­ational ve­hi­cle.

In 1963, the Jeep Wagoneer had the first au­to­matic trans­mis­sion linked to a 4WD sys­tem. It was also the first 4WD equipped with in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion. The 1973 model fea­tured Quadra-Trac, the first au­to­matic full-time 4WD sys­tem.

1974 saw the launch of the twodoor Chero­kee. 10 years later, the Chero­kee was the first SUV with a uni­tary body.

The Grand Chero­kee of 1992 was the first SUV to be equipped with a stan­dard driver-side airbag and the first to of­fer three dif­fer­ent 4WD sys­tems.

A 1941 World War II Willys-Over­land MA Jeep. Jeep cel­e­brates its 75th an­niver­sary this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.