3 Things You Didn’t Know About Jeep
There are a few facts about Jeep that are pretty much common knowledge. Most people know that Jeeps originally came out of World War II, and the modern Wrangler is descended from the first rugged vehicles the U.S. Army needed to get around in all terrain conditions. However, there are a few more facts about Jeep you might not have known before.
The First Design Took Two Days
After World War II started but before America joined, the military was rapidly trying to update its arsenal and equipment. Although the U.S. joining wasn’t a sure thing at that point, it definitely looked likely. As such, the army needed a replacement for their ancient fleet of motorcycles and Ford Model Ts, and it needed it fast, providing every American car manufacturer with a window of just 11 days to submit a design. Karl Probst, working for the American Bantam Car Company, needed only two days to create the first version of what would become the iconic Jeep.
Jeep Had a Lot of Owners
The first Jeep design may have been submitted by Bantam, but the company was too small to have any hope of supplying the military by itself. As such, the government sent the design to the other two bidders, Ford and Willys-Overland, and awarded contracts to everyone. Eventually, the Willys-Overland design became the most popular, but since that company also couldn’t keep up with demand, Ford licensed it and started producing the GPW, which would become the classic version.
After the war, Willys-Overland continued to create civilian versions of the Jeep, but the company was unable to come up with another winning design. In 1953, they merged with the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation and was later renamed Kaiser Jeep. In 1970, the American Motors Corporation purchased the brand and changed the name to simply “Jeep.” Finally, in 1987, Chrysler bought up AMC, and Jeep has remained a Chrysler brand ever since.
No One Really Knows What “Jeep” Means
Although the most widespread theory is that it’s a way to pronounce “GP,” which means “general purpose,” the fact is that nobody can really pin down where and why the name caught on. One version of the vehicle, the Ford GP, seems like a likely explanation, but in that case the letters are G for “government” and P for the wheelbase length. It also wasn’t the only model being produced at the time.
There are a few other more likely theories: one is that army testers simply referred to every new prototype as a “jeep,” and so when one such tester took a few reporters for a spin and they put him on the spot about the name, he could only reply, “it’s a jeep.” Another possibility is that it’s named after Eugene the Jeep, a mysterious but helpful animal which could teleport around when needed and became Popeye the Sailor’s pet in the comics as early as 1936.
Jeep’s history is remarkably complicated and dynamic considering how solid and dependable their vehicles are. But when you consider that dependability, it’s not so surprising that everyone would want to sell them.
Image via Pixabay