In the world of automobiles, there are few names as iconic and well-known as Jeep. The brand has become synonymous with off-road capability, ruggedness, and comfort in vehicles, both civilian and military.
So what year was Jeep made? And how did it journey to where it is today? This blog will answer these questions and more, taking you on a history-filled journey from the early days of civilian Jeep ownership to the SUV boom and bust of the 2000s.
Before we continue, if you want to know more about the Jeep Wrangler, you can check out this article: Jeep Wrangler Model Years
The Journey of Jeep
One of the most recognizable automakers in the world is Jeep. You’ll have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t know what a Jeep is or can’t recognize a Wrangler as one, whether you’re in Manhattan, London, rural Australia, or deep in Germany’s Black Forest.
It is considerably more than just a brand name; it is now used to describe any off-road vehicle with a tough exterior.
It was easier said than done to get here. Jeep has moved from automaker to automaker like some sort of cursed idol, leaving a trail of defunct businesses in its wake.
What Year Was Jeep Made
The Jeep was created in response to the American Army’s requirement for a general-purpose transportation vehicle that could take the place of both horses and motorcycles.
In reality, one of the more well-liked hypotheses on the meaning of the word Jeep claims that it derives from the acronym GP, which stands for general purpose. Others mention the Popeye comic strip character Eugene the Jeep. The name stuck, no matter where it originated.
The Butler, Pennsylvania-based American Bantam Car Company created the off-road vehicle. It began by producing authorized replicas of Austin vehicles made in Britain. The company was in bad shape by 1940, when the government started a bidding process for a tiny, four-wheel drive military vehicle.
American Bantam put together a prototype that went beyond the requirements set out by the Army. Government officials hired Willys-Overland and later Ford to develop what would become the Jeep because they were worried about the small automaker’s capacity to produce the volume of vehicles required.
To distinguish the Jeeps it built from those made by Willys, Ford actually tried to put its own imprint on the Jeep design by branding as many elements as it could with an “F.” After the war, Willys kept the design’s rights, and made an effort to offer the Jeep a second chance in the civilian world.
Willys transformed its MB military Jeep into the CJ-2A. The designation “CJ” stood for “Civilian Jeep,” and Willys would continue to produce these converted military vehicles over a period of about four decades. The Wrangler subsequently took the place of the CJ and still fulfills the same function today.
But Willys didn’t stop there. It aimed to develop a full Jeep car lineup, starting the process through which Jeep became a stand-alone brand.
It introduced numerous striking designs, such as the long-lasting Station Wagon in 1946, a pickup in 1947, and the Jeepster, a compact convertible with a conventional car-like appearance.
The idea of Jeeps that were more like cars would be brought up once more decades later in the form of Jeep’s first crossovers.
The Jeep brand has shown to be more resilient than its parent, just as the original Jeep left American Bantam behind.
Kaiser, the company that created the Liberty Ship, another significant World War II vehicle, acquired Willys in 1953. After the war, Kaiser got into the auto industry. In 1963, it completely lost the Willys moniker and changed to Kaiser-Jeep.
In the same year, Jeep unveiled the Wagoneer, a more refined replacement for the CJ. One of the first precursors of the contemporary family SUV was the Wagoneer, which had a body that was essentially an enclosed station wagon.
AMC and Chrysler
To expedite its retirement from the automotive sector, the American Motors Corporation (AMC) bought Kaiser in 1969.
The rest of the Wisconsin-based automaker’s lineup eventually withered away as the Jeep brand had tremendous growth during AMC’s ownership. This was partly because of a lack of vision, persistent financial problems, and quality problems.
In the end, not even cooperation with Paris-based Renault could save AMC, so Chrysler bought it in 1987 and shut it down soon after. In retrospect, all Chrysler sought was the name, reputation, vehicles, and intellectual property of Jeep.
In the 1980s, two important Jeep models were unveiled. The first was the 1984 release of the Cherokee from the XJ generation.
The XJ, which helped propel the company even farther into the mainstream, was Jeep’s first genuinely contemporary SUV. Up until 2001, the XJ was produced with several modifications before being superseded by Liberty.
Jeep was quietly finalizing a replacement for its long-serving CJ, which had produced countless variations since its inception, while Chrysler was quietly prepared to take over.
Because the off-roader, which had its roots in the World War II-era Willys, was so outdated, Jeep began from scratch when creating the original Wrangler as its replacement (YJ).
Though more polished than its predecessor, it maintained a high level of off-road prowess. The top, doors, and windshield could all still be removed by the user.
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SUV Boom and Bust
The YJ appeared to be a decent combination because it combined the CJ’s appearance and off-road capabilities with some contemporary conveniences, but Jeep purists originally disregarded it. They particularly despised the YJ’s square headlights, which were later changed to more conventional round ones. As of July 2020, it is in its fourth generation.
Chrysler made a wise choice when it purchased Jeep. SUV popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s, and Jeep was prepared to capitalize on this passion by utilizing its experience.
In 1992, it debuted the first Grand Cherokee to replace the Grand Wagoneer, which had been around for a while. Things started to fall apart as the 1990s came to an end.
After Chrysler and Daimler AG combined in 1998, the company started to place a greater emphasis on trucks and SUVs at the price of quality and fuel efficiency.
The Compass and Patriot, Jeep’s first car-based crossovers, received widespread disapproval, while the enormous Commander turned into a white elephant after the 2008 crisis began and petrol costs began to rise.
The first-generation Grand Cherokee SRT, a really fast hot rod that completely neglected off-road capability in favor of on-road performance, was released by Jeep in the midst of all of this.
One of the businesses most impacted by the economic downturn in the US was the manufacturing of vehicles. Chrysler then severed relations with Daimler and formally filed for bankruptcy.
Chrysler then moved on to work with Fiat, a unique company. But the two businesses’ merger brought about significant gains for both. The name of this new team is now Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
The business decided that now would be the ideal time to revive the Cherokee as a crossover. Additionally, they collaborated to create the Renegade, a brand-new little car.
At the 2017 New York Auto Show, FCA unveiled the 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, surprising the globe with its avant-garde design and concurrently displaying their alliance. This clever, raised Jeep captured the attention of auto enthusiasts around.
Jeep discontinued its pickup truck lineup in 1992 after the XJ-based Comanche’s manufacture came to an end. So, when the original Jeep truck (the Gladiator) returned in 2018, Jeep enthusiasts were ecstatic.
The Gladiator, based on the fourth-generation Wrangler, debuted at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. This vehicle has four doors and a variety of engines available, including a turbodiesel V6. Currently, Jeep sells roughly a million automobiles annually, but analysts predict this figure will climb.
Find the details about one of the Jeep Wrangler models, Rubicon, in our article here: Old Jeep Rubicon – What You Need to Know
Jeep has been around for over 70 years and has seen many changes during that time. From civilian life to the SUV boom and bust, this blog has covered it all! Now that you know everything you need to know about Jeep, it’s time to take a look at what’s coming next for this iconic brand. Stay tuned for more updates on the journey of Jeep!