What did Mark Twain say about the weather? Oh yes, something like: “Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Well, he was a pretty witty and funny guy, that’s for sure.
That saying reminded me about Jeeps for some reason and when I thought about it, I realized that it fit the brand perfectly. Twain could have also said: “Everyone loves Jeeps but no one knows anything about them.”
We know that they are very cool cars and that they are considered by automotive experts to be just about the best off-road, four-wheel drive SUVs one ca buy. But what rarely comes up in any conversations is where Jeep came from, notably its roots. When we walked the lot at Reedman Toll Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram of Jenkintown, we stopped at the 2017 Jeeps and were able to visualize the evolution of the brand over the decades just by gazing at their traditional front grill.
That iconic grill brought us back to 1941, just before our entry into World War 2. Apparently, the U.S. Government along with it military forces realized that we were going to be pulled into the war in Europe and that we had better be ready when it happened. They started building weapons and all the other things that might be needed by our service men and women to win the war. They also sent notices to 135 companies to design a four-wheel reconnaissance car and then build a prototype in only 49 days. Talk about pressure!
Several companies came through with a prototype but most dropped out. Carmakers Ford and Willys made the final cut, but it was Willys that won the contract.
Ford’ grill design, however, made was chosen and incorporated in the final design. The resultant military Jeep was light and rugged, just like today’s civilian versions, which have transformed from bare bones olive green scouting vehicles into very comfortable (luxurious even) four-wheelers that can take you places with paved roads or otherwise.
After the war ended in 1945, the Jeep was so popular with ex-servicemen and others that a civilian model was produced. In fact, it became so popular that they have never stopped selling. Next time you look at a Jeep, remember where it came from. It has a rich history and some famous ancestors.