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TypeSubsidiary of Chrysler (since 1987)
HeadquartersToledo, Ohio, United States
ProductsSport Utility vehicles
ParentChrysler LLC

Jeep is an automobile marque (and registered trademark) of Chrysler. It is not the oldest off-road vehicle (also sport utility vehicle - SUV) brand, with Land Rover coming in second. The original vehicle which first appeared as the prototype Bantam BRC became the primary light 4-wheel-drive car of the US Army and allies during the World War II and postwar period. Many vehicles serving similar military and civilian roles have since been created by many nations.


Origin of the term "jeep"

There are many explanations of the origin of the word "jeep," all of which have proven difficult to verify. Probably the most popular notion holds that the vehicle bore the designation "GP" (for "Government Purposes" or "General Purpose"), which was phonetically slurred into the word jeep. However, R. Lee Ermey, on his television series Mail Call, disputes this, saying that the vehicle was designed for specific duties, was never referred to as "General Purpose," and that the name may have been derived from Ford's nomenclature referring to the vehicle as GP (G for government use, and P to designate its 80-inch (2,000 mm) wheelbase). "GP" does appear in connection with the vehicle in the TM 9-803 manual, which describes the vehicle as a machine, and the vehicle is designated a "GP" in TM 9-2800, Standard Motor Vehicles, September 1, 1949, but whether the average jeep-driving GI would have been familiar with either of these manuals is open to debate.

This account may confuse the jeep with the nickname of another series of vehicles with the GP designation. The Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, a maker of railroad locomotives, introduced its "General Purpose" line in 1949, using the GP tag. These locomotives are commonly referred to as Geeps, pronounced the same way as "Jeep."

Many, including Ermey, suggest that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicles that they informally named it after Eugene the Jeep, a character in the Popeye cartoons that "could go anywhere."[1]

The term "jeep" was first commonly used during World War I (1914–1918) by soldiers as slang for new recruits and for new unproven vehicles. This is according to a history of the vehicle for an issue of the U.S. Army magazine, Quartermaster Review, which was written by Maj. E. P. Hogan. He went on to say that "jeep" had these definitions as late as the start of World War II.

"Jeep" had been used as the name of a small tractor made by Minneapolis-Moline.[2]

The term "jeep" would eventually be used as slang to refer to an airplane, a tractor used for hauling heavy equipment, and an autogyro. When the first models of the jeep came to Camp Holabird for tests, the vehicle did not have a name yet. Therefore the soldiers on the test project called it a jeep. Civilian engineers and test drivers who were at the camp during this time were not aware of the military slang term. They most likely were familiar with the character Eugene the Jeep and thought that Eugene was the origin of the name. The vehicle had many other nicknames at this time such as Peep (the term originally used in the Armored Force), Pygmy, and Blitz-Buggy, although because of the Eugene association, Jeep stuck in people's minds better than any other term.

Words of the Fighting Forces by Clinton A. Sanders, a dictionary of military slang, published in 1942, in the library at The Pentagon gives this definition:

Jeep: A four-wheel drive car of one-half- to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the bantam-cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the ½-ton command car. Also referred to as "any small plane, helicopter, or gadget."

Early in 1941, Willys-Overland demonstrated the vehicle's off-road cability by having it drive up the U.S. Capitol steps, driven by Willy's test driver Irving "Red" Haussman, who had recently heard soldiers at Fort Holabird calling it a "jeep." When asked by syndicated columnist Katherine Hillyer for the Washington Daily News (or by a bystander, according to another account) what it was called, Irving answered, "It's a jeep."

Katherine Hillyer's article was published nationally on February 20, 1941, and included a picture of the vehicle with the caption:

LAWMAKERS TAKE A RIDE- With Senator Meade, of New York, at the wheel, and Representative Thomas, of New Jersey, sitting beside him, one of the Army's new scout cars, known as "jeeps" or "quads", climbs up the Capitol steps in a demonstration yesterday. Soldiers in the rear seat for gunners were unperturbed.

This exposure caused all other jeep references to fade, leaving the 4x4 truck with the name.

Willys-Overland Inc. was later awarded the sole privilege of owning the name "Jeep" as registered trademark by extension, merely because it originally had offered the most powerful engine.

(Compare "mayhem" and "commando" for words which changed their main meanings because of readers misunderstanding newspaper accounts.)

The origins of the vehicle: the first jeeps

Bantam BRC 40
Dashboard of World War II era jeep.

The first jeep prototype (the Bantam BRC) was built for the Department of the Army by American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvania, [3]followed by two other competing prototypes produced by Ford and Willys-Overland. The American Bantam Car Company actually built and designed the vehicle that first met the Army's criteria, but its engine did not meet the Army's torque requirements. Plus, the Army felt that the company was too small to supply the number needed and it allowed Willys and Ford to make second attempts on their designs after seeing Bantam's vehicle in action.

Quantities (1,500) of each of the three models were then extensively field tested. During the bidding process for 16,000 "jeeps", Willys-Overland's chief engineer Delmar "Barney" Roos made extensive design changes to meet a revised weight specification (a maximum of 2,175 pounds, including oil and water). He was thus able to retain a powerful but comparatively heavy engine,and thus won the initial contract. Willys had designed what would become the standardized jeep, designating it a model MB military vehicle and building it at their plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Like American Bantam, Willys-Overland was a small company and, likewise, the military was concerned about their ability to produce large quantities of jeeps. The military was also concerned that Willys-Overland had only one manufacturing facility: something that would make the supply of jeeps more susceptible to sabotage or production stoppages.

Based on these two concerns, the U.S. government required that jeeps also be built by the Ford Motor Company, who designated the vehicle as model GPW (G = government vehicle, P designated the 80" wheelbase, and W = the Willys engine design). Willys and Ford, under the direction of Charles E. Sorensen (Vice-President of Ford during World War II), produced more than 600,000 jeeps. Cost per vehicle trended upwards as the war continued from the price under the first contract of a little less than $750. Besides just being a "truck" the jeep was used for many other purposes.

The jeep was widely copied around the world, including in France by Hotchkiss et Cie (after 1954, Hotchkiss manufactured Jeeps under license from Willys), and in Japan by Mitsubishi Motors. There were several versions created, including a railway jeep and an amphibious jeep. As part of the war effort, Jeeps were also supplied to the Soviet Red Army during World War II. During the jeep's service in Korea the name was referred to as "Just Enough Essential Parts" by the troops due to the very basic design.

The utilitarian good looks of the original Jeep have been hailed by industrial designers and museum curators alike. The Museum of Modern Art described the Jeep as a masterpiece of functionalist design, and has periodically exhibited the Jeep as part of its collection.[4][5]

In the United States military, the jeep has been supplanted by a number of vehicles (e.g. Ford's M151 MUTT) of which the latest is the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or "Humvee").

The M715

Jeep M715

In 1965, Jeep developed the M715 1.25 ton army truck, which served extensively in Vietnam. Today it serves other countries, and is still being produced by Kia under license. The CJ series began back in 1945 with the CJ2A. The name CJ stands for "Civilian Jeep," a bit of trivia that is still argued over. These early Jeeps are commonly referred to as "flatfenders" because their front fenders were flat across the front, even with the grill. Yes, there was such a thing as a CJ-4, and in true Jeep form, there is only one, literally. There is only one 1951 CJ-4 prototype in existence, it's the "missing link" between the flatfendered CJ-2's and 3' and the round-fendered CJ-5.

The Jeep marque

The marque has gone through many owners, starting in 1941 with Willys, which produced the first Civilian Jeep (CJ). Willys was sold to Kaiser in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. American Motors (AMC) purchased Kaiser's money-losing Jeep operations in 1970. The utility vehicles complemented AMC's passenger car business by sharing components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep's international and government markets.

The French automaker Renault began investing in AMC in 1979. However, by 1987, the automobile markets had changed and even Renault itself was experiencing financial troubles. At the same time, Chrysler Corporation wanted to capture the Jeep brand, as well as other assets of AMC. Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987, shortly after the Jeep CJ was replaced with the AMC-designed Jeep Wrangler or YJ. Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler eventually sold most of their interest in Chrysler to a private equity company in 2007. Chrysler and the Jeep division now operate under the name Chrysler Holding LLC.

Toledo, Ohio has been the headquarters of the Jeep marque since its inception, and the city has always been proud of this heritage. Although no longer produced in the same factory as the World War II originals, two streets in the vicinity of the old plant are named Willys Parkway and Jeep Parkway.

American Motors set up the first automobile-manufacturing joint venture in the People's Republic of China on January 15, 1984 [6]. The result was Beijing Jeep Corporation, Ltd., in partnership with Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation, to produce the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) in Beijing. Manufacture continued after Chrysler's buyout of AMC. This joint venture is now part of DaimlerChrysler and DaimlerChrysler China Invest Corporation. The original 1984 XJ model was updated and called the "Jeep 2500" toward the end of its production that ended after 2005.[7]

Jeep vehicles have "model designations" in addition to their common names. Nearly every civilian Jeep until the mid-2000s has an 'xJ' designation, though not all are as well-known as the classic CJ. Chrysler has now changed to an "xK" designation.

A division of Chrysler Holdings, the most recent successor company to Willys, now holds trademark status on the name "Jeep" and the distinctive 7-slot front grille design. The original 9-slot grille associated with all WW2 jeeps was designed by Ford for their GPW, and because it weighed less than the original "Slat Grille" of Willys, (an arrangement of flat bars) was incorporated into the "standardized jeep" design.

AM General

The history of the Humvee has ties with Jeep. In 1971, Jeep's Defense and Government Products Division was turned into AM General, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Motors Corporation, which also owned Jeep. In 1979, while still owned by American Motors, AM General began the first steps toward designing the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. AM General also continued manufacturing the DJ, which Jeep created in 1953.

The General Motors Hummer and Chrysler Jeep have been waging battle in US courts over the right to use seven slots in their respective radiator grills. Chrysler Jeep claims it has the exclusive rights to use the seven vertical slits since it is the sole remaining assignee of the various companies since Willys gave their post-war jeeps seven slots instead of Ford's nine-slot design for the Jeep.

Off-Road abilities

Jeep Wrangler; note the solid front axle.

Jeeps have always been known for their abilities off-road, and their popularity. Jeeps are legendary for their off road capabilities. [8]. Today, the Wrangler is the only light-duty vehicle offered in North America with solid axles front and rear. These axles are known for their durability due to their overall strength and lack of rubber boots to get torn on twigs and rocks. Solid-axled vehicles also generally articulate better, especially when traversing ruts. All Jeep Wranglers come standard with 4 wheel drive. Most Wranglers come with a Dana 35 rear axle and a Dana 30 up front, the Rubicon model of the Wrangler is Equipped with Air lockers and Dana 44 front and rear.

Another plus of solid axle vehicles is they tend to be easier and cheaper to "lift." This "lifting" increases the distance between the center of the axle hub and chassis of the vehicle. By increasing this distance, larger tires can be installed, which will increase the ground clearance of the Jeep, allowing it to traverse even larger and more difficult obstacles. Jeep is also known as a symbol of freedom because of the capacity of going almost everywhere. Many people equip theirs with roll-bars, extra lights, and a winch to pull the vehicle out from the mud or sand when stuck.

Useful features of the smaller Jeeps are their short wheelbases, narrow frames, and great approach, breakover, and departure angles, allowing them to fit places where full - sized trucks could never go.The Jeep Also features a removable soft top, and doors for days when the weather is nice. Jeep Wrangler is the only utility vehicle that has a removable top and doors.

Jeep events

The Jeep Jamboree

Jamborees are two-day off-road events held throughout the year in which Jeep owners can bring their friends and families to meet other Jeepers, tour scenic trails, and test the limits of their vehicles. Any Jeep with a low-range transfer case is allowed, although Full Size Jeeps require prior approval. Only registered participants are allowed to take part in the trail rides and activities; no spectators are allowed. Participants can choose to camp at a local campground, stay in a motel, or find other lodging. The day starts off with breakfast, followed by a general meeting that discusses the trail of the day, as well as the driving techniques required. The trail run is concluded by sundown. Thirty Jamborees are planned for 2008.

Camp Jeep

Camp Jeep is an annual, three-day, multi-activity oriented event which includes mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, tubing, arts and crafts, and performances by top bands. Children are encouraged to participate as much as adults (events permitting). Man-made obstacle courses are also offered, as well as trail rides (although the latter must be reserved in advance). "Jeep 101" courses are offered for people just getting started in the off-road world, with experienced guides demonstrating proper driving techniques and the vehicles' 4x4 systems. There is no actual camping at Camp Jeep; participants may camp locally or stay at a motel.

Jeep related words


Jeeping is a popular verb used to describe the action and effect of driving a Jeep (mostly on difficult terrain), which was created to differentiate off-roading from street-driving.[citation needed]


Jeeper is a popular name given to someone who owns and "drives" a Jeep off-road; a Jeep enthusiast.[citation needed]

Jeep model list

Historical models

Historical Jeep models:

World War II era Willys jeep
World War II era jeep built by Ford, using the Willys-Overland design
1974 Cherokee S in action.
    • S
    • Limited
    • Classic
    • Chief
    • Sport
    • Pioneer
    • Laredo
  • 1967-1975 DJ-5A
  • 1970-1972 DJ-5B
  • 1973-1974 DJ-5C
  • 1975-1976 DJ-5D
  • 1976 DJ- 5E Electruck
  • 1976-1986 CJ-7
    • 1982 — Jamboree Limited Edition (2500 examples)
  • 1977-1978 DJ-5F
  • 1979 DJ-5G
  • 1979 — CJ-5 Silver Anniversary Limited Edition - estimated that perhaps only 1000 were built)
  • 1981-1985 CJ-8 Scrambler
1982 Jeep Scrambler
  • 1981-1985 CJ-10
  • 1982 DJ- 5L
  • 1984-1991 SJ Jeep Grand Wagoneer
    • 1991 Final Edition
  • 1984-2001 XJ Cherokee
    • 1984-2001 — Base "SE"
    • 1984-1988 — Chief
    • 1984-1990 — Pioneer
    • 1985-1992 — Laredo
    • 1987-1992/1998-2001 — Limited
    • 1988-2001 — Sport
    • 1991-1992 — Briarwood
    • 1993-1997 — Country
    • 1996-2001 — Classic
  • 1984-1990 XJ Wagoneer
    • 1984-1985 — Broughwood
    • 1984-1990 — Limited
  • 1986-1992 MJ Comanche
    • 1986 — Custom
    • 1986 — X
    • 1986 — XLS
    • 1987-1992 — Base SE
    • 1987-1990 — Chief
    • 1987-1992 — Laredo
    • 1987-1990 — Pioneer
    • 1987-1992 — SporTruck
    • 1987-1992 — Eliminator
  • 1987-1995 Wrangler YJ
    • 1991-1993 Renegade
    • 1988-1995 Wrangler Long- Venezuela
  • 1993-1998 ZJ Grand Cherokee
First generation ZJ
1994 ZJ Laredo Model
    • 1993–1995 – Base SE
    • 1993–1998 – Laredo
    • 1993–1998 – Limited
    • 1995–1997 – Orvis "Limited Edition"
    • 1997–1998 – TSi
    • 1998 - 5.9 Limited
  • 1993 ZJ Jeep Grand Wagoneer
  • 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ
1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ
    • 2002 TJ
    • 2003 TJ Rubicon
    • 2004 TJ Unlimited
    • 2004-2005 - Willys Edition (2004-1997 made, 2005-2001 made)
    • 2004 — Columbia Edition
  • 1999-2004 WJ Grand Cherokee
    • 2002–2003 — Sport
    • 2002–2004 — Special edition
    • 2002–2004 — Overland
    • 2004 — Columbia Edition
  • 2002-2007 KJ Liberty

Current models

The Jeep brand currently produces six models:

Concept vehicles

Jeeps around the world

Jeeps have been built and/or assembled around the world by various companies.[9]

  • Argentina - IKA Jeeps 1956-current; now owned by Chrysler [10]
  • Australia - Willys Motors Australia - 1940s-1980s [11]
  • Belgium -
The Troller T4

Further reading

  • Hartwell D The Mighty Jeep American Heritage Magazine, Vol 12 No 1, December 1960

See also


  • Jeep, written by Jim Allen, published in 2001 by MBI Publishing Company
  • Standard catalog of JEEP, written by Patrick Foster, published in 2003 by Krause Publications


  2. STROHL, DANIEL (APRIL 1, 2005). "1938 Farm On!" (web). Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved on January 24, 2008. 
  3. "Invention of the Jeep" Waymark
  4. Leigh Brown, Patricia, Where Do You Hang The 747?, New York Times, December 13, 1998
  5. MOMA Press Release, The Museum of Modern Art Displays Entire Automotive Collection, page 2 (June 2002)
  6. Mann, Jim. (1997). Beijing Jeep: A Case Study of Western Business in China. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3327-X.
  7. Dunne, Timothy. "Can Chrysler Rebound in China?" Business Week, November 2, 2007. Retrieved on January 22, 2008.
  8. Toledo-built Jeeps' sales results abroad mirror those in North American market
  9. Jeeps Around the World on The CJ3B Page
  10. Jeeps in Argentina on The CJ3B Page
  11. Jeeps in Australia on The CJ3B Page
  12. Jeeps in Brasil on The CJ3B Page
  13. Kaiser Jeep in Canada 1959-69 on The CJ3B Page
  14. Jeeps in Colombia on The CJ3B Page
  15. Jeeps in France on The CJ3B Page
  16. Mahindra Jeeps on The CJ3B Page
  17. Jeeps in Italy on The CJ3B Page
  18. Jeeps in Japan on The CJ3B Page
  19. Jeeps in Korea on The CJ3B Page
  20. Jeeps in Mexico on The CJ3B Page
  21. Jeeps in the Netherlands on The CJ3B Page
  22. Jeepneys of the Philippines on The CJ3B Page
  23., Philippine firm brings old WWII jeeps back to life
  24., Electric minibuses start commercial operations in Philippines
  25., Enforcers to drive E-jeeps
  26. Jeeps in Spain on The CJ3B Page
  27. Jeeps in Turkey on The CJ3B Page

External links