Photo: Flickr Tim Bounds
They may not have the sleek styling of Pinnerfarina, but with their raw, powerful presence and fascinating military heritage, the hardy Jeep is a motoring classic in its own right.Even Le Mans actor Steve McQueen fell for its charms: He owned a unique Chevy V-8-powered Jeep CJ and was memorably photographed by Milton Green leaning against the tan-coloured beast on a trip to Mexico in 1969.
The first Jeep emerged out of a 1940 US Army request for a “four wheel-drive reconnaissance car” weighing less than 1300 lbs (590kg).
The prototype designed by Karl Probst went into production by the Willys Overland Company, but they ignored the weight limit in favour of a more powerful, 2.4-liter, side-valve “Go Devil” engine. And thus, in July 1941, a motoring legend was born.
More than 640,000 were built during the Second World War by Willys Overland and Ford, and allegedly the name “Jeep” comes the fact the car was then officially called a GPW.
Willys Overland registered the name Jeep as a trademark when the War ended. The 50s and 60s saw the rise of the Jeep as a recreational vehicle while engineering continued to be refined, with a new line-up of 14 models on sale by the late 60s. in the following decade the Jeep swept the board at the 4×4 of the year awards and sales hit an all-time high.
Now owned by Chrysler, the brand is releasing a series of special anniversary editions of four classic Jeep models—Wrangler, Patriot, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee—to mark its 70th anniversary.
Imbued with a sense of adventure and formidable strength, the Jeep is a motoring legend worthy of celebration. So here’s our gallery of the brand’s highlights over the last 70 years….
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