75 years of history, summed up in 10 fun facts
Born in a time when the United States were preparing for war, Jeep is now just one of the brands owned by the Italians from Fiat. But this doesn't diminish in any way the brand's 75 years of history – there's plenty to admire about a car manufacturer that was synonymous with simple, inexpensive yet sturdy off-road vehicles.
And if you think you know everything about Jeep, think again. Here are some less known facts about the brand which you can impress your buddies at a bottle share.
1. Its first name was not Jeep
The ‘Jeep’ could come either from Ford’s GP abbreviation (Government/General Purposes) or from the Eugene the Jeep cartoon character. Most likely, it comes from the military jargon for untested military vehicles. Ah, and the first Bantam-made prototype was named Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), Blitz Buggy, or Old Number One.
2. It took an incredibly short amount of time to finish the first prototype
Blueprints were done by in 2 days and submitted in 5, while the first car was hand-built in less than 60 days. Yeah!
3. Willys did not create the first Jeep
Engineers from American Bantam Car Company created the first Jeep, but Henry Ford’s political ties and Willys-Overland shrewd marketing campaign managed to split the Army contract between the three companies. Eventually, only Willys would keep the Jeep brand, before being bought by other entities.
4. The Jeep grille is, in fact, designed by Ford
It had initially 13, then 9 slots, but was eventually reduced to a 7-slot grill. Jeep stuck with this design ever since. It’s one of the very few major contributions from Ford on the original Jeep.
5. The round recessed headlamps were mounted on hinges for a practical reason
The lamps were designed by Ford engineers to pivot back and light up the engine bay. That’s the second important contribution from Ford to Bantam’s car. Even Marylin Monroe could have handled them.
6. The tank of the original Jeep was placed under the driver. Strategically
Engineers calculated that having the tank in any other part of the car would lead to increased risks of fire and explosion, so they put it under the driver, minimizing the number of "death shot" trajectories available to the enemy. If the driving soldier was hit, they were all dead anyway, so why not? Also, most army Jeep drivers were nuts anyway, so why bother?
7. The four-wheel drivetrain that brought excellent off-road abilities was not made by any of the three Jeep original manufacturers
It was made by Spicer Manufacturing, now Dana Holding Corporation. Ah, the same guys that provided the industry's first cruise control on 1958 Chrysler models and the first all-aluminum driveshaft on the 1983 Chevrolet Corvette. The company still produces high-quality parts for current Jeep models.
8. The first Land Rover prototype 'center steer' was built on a Jeep chassis
Because Land Rover’s creator, Maurice Wilks, was a Jeep fan. And he needed a strong technical solution. He got the best one. Meanwhile, all sorts of body types were built on a Jeep chassis, as you can see above.
9. Jeep practically invented the first SUV
Jeep Wagoneer came after the successful Willys Jeep Station Wagon and was, basically, the first luxury 4×4 that could perfectly fit the definition of an SUV, long before the term came into existence. Wagoneer was followed by Jeep Grand Cherokee, the one that truly started the American SUV revolution.
10. 2017 will be the year we’ll finally see a Wrangler Pickup
Nobody knows for sure how this long-awaited car will look like, but our bet is it will sell like hot cakes. And if we’re to remember Jeep’s crazy off-road concepts from this spring, good things await for Pickup and Jeep lovers!
Do you also have fun facts about Jeep? Join us in the comments.