Long before the modern day SUV’s was the Jeep. It is the oldest SUV with the Land Rover coming in a close second. The word “jeep” itself probably came from the term “GP” or general purpose vehicle. The term “jeep” was first used during World War I. It was a slang word for both unproven troops and vehicles. this definition stuck around even until the early stages of World War II.
In 1936 the comic strip “Eugene the Jeep” was created for the Popeye cartoon. In 1942 the Pentagon gave this definition of a jeep. It is a 4 wheel drive vehicle that can weigh between half a ton to one and half tons in weight. It is an all terrain vehicle that can be used for reconnaissance or other military duty as designated.
To prove a point Willy’s-Overland demonstrated the vehicles effectiveness by having a driver drive it up the steps of the US Capitol. Katherine Hillyer wrote an article called, Lawmakers take a ride. In the article, she called the vehicle a jeep and the name stuck. she referred to it as a scout car.
The first prototype was built for the Army by the American Bantam Car Company. The problem was that Bantam was too small to produce what the Army needed so they went to Willy’s and Ford for construction. Willy’s and Ford under the direction of Charles Sorensen built about 600,000 vehicles during World War II.
The vehicle was so successful that other countries around the world tried to duplicate it. Vehicles were made that could be amphibious, too. The USA supplied the Soviet Red Army with Jeeps during World War II also. Today the Jeep has been transplanted by the more popular Humvee.
In 1965 a Jeep Truck was produced to be used in Vietnam. Today that same vehicle is produced by KIA for the same purpose in many other countries.
Beginning with Willy’s in 1941, the Jeep has had numerous marques. among them also being Renault, American Motors, Ford, Chrysler, The Beijing Automobile Corporation, Daimler-Benz, and KIA. Chrysler currently holds the right to the name “Jeep”.
Today the Jeep Wrangler is offered as a solid two axle base that works very well off the road as well as on the road. Jeeps have been built and assembled all around the world. Countries include Japan, Korea, China, France, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, India, Canada, Argentina, and Australia just to mention a few.
During War years, many commanders would use the jeep to view battles from a distance or transport themselves to the front lines. Many a major battle decisions were made from the hood of a jeep or in it’s front seat.
The jeep could also be used for ambulatory services in moving wounded servicemen to the rear or to a medic station.
Not used as much for military purposes anymore, the jeep found use as an SUV for many people that like the outdoors. Their high ground clearance can be used in snow covered areas, hilly terrain, where there are no roads, as well as on an interstate or state highway. Most have four wheel drive but some just have two wheel traction. Most have small cargo areas that have folding seats for individual transportation. some have a cross-over from truck like to car like rides. The Jeep is still very popular among American consumers.