Jeep’s tale goes so much further than scaling rocky crevasses on those weekend getaways. It has a rich history that was forged out of necessity but quickly became a household name when people discovered its rugged versatility as it switched from a workhorse to the ultimate weekend utility vehicle.
Jeep’s Iconic Start
America’s entry into World War II in the 1940s saw many changes to the American way of life. A freeze was placed on the production of luxury goods, including cars. All economic effort was shifted to support the war effort, which resulted in the manufacturing of superior war machines. One of these creations was the Willys range of 4×4s. The Willys MB was known as the pride of the US military, featuring door cutouts for easy entry and exits and rugged suspension to navigate tough terrain.
Before long, the MBs were fitted with low-caliber machine guns and retrofitted to navigate the toughest terrains in the harshest conditions, from snow plains to desert landscapes.
Farmers quickly noticed the durability of the Jeep, and in 1949, the first civilian Jeeps were manufactured. The CJ-2A was the ultimate workhorse and supported both farming and industrial efforts. Jeep’s popularity grew as a household name, and the timing was perfect, as it coincided with the end of the war. In 1946, the all-steel, no-maintenance station wagon was released to an adoring public that fully embraced tailgate parties.
Considered the birth of the station wagon, the wood-look 463 Jeep Station Wagon soon became the poster car for the American Dream.
Increased War Efforts
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the name Jeep became a registered trademark of the Willys range. This was the era of the Willys Model MC or M38, which featured amphibious capabilities through a waterproof ignition system and unique vent setup. The M-170 also played a critical part in war efforts, as it was known as the ambulance carrier. This nippy vehicle was retrofitted to provide some protection and comfort for injured soldiers.
As the popularity of Jeep grew among civilians, there was also a need for more comfort. The CJ-5 was the answer, and despite the added comfort, it wasn’t going to slack in the performance area. It featured more versatility and off-road capability.
Take Your Jeep to Work
In the 1960s, there was a marked effort to increase the working capability of the Jeep range. This resulted in the Fleetvan, which turned out to be a favorite among businesses that relied on deliveries, such as dairy farms. Another was the Jeep Gladiator or J-Series, which offered stronger suspension systems that made it popular on farms and construction sites.
The Wagoneer was also a firm favorite among households in this era and is known as the first luxury 4×4 SUV. It was spacious and comfortable yet had the rugged 4×4 ability that allowed families to go camping off the beaten track.
Upping Those Pickups
While the Gladiator bid farewell to its loyal following, the Honcho was a worthy replacement. The J-10 and J-20 series included front disc brakes and a heavier frame. The 10-4 trim also included a factory-installed radio.
This era also saw the introduction of a removable camper system with the CJ-5, which made the transition from vacation to work vehicle easier. The CJ-7 also proved to be a hit with its longer wheelbase and automatic transmission.
Luxury SUVs stepped it up a notch here, too, with the Jeep Cherokee, which had two-door or four-door options.
Stylish New Additions
The CJ-7 Laredo was one of the hottest models of the eighties with its chrome touches on the grille, bumpers, and trim. It didn’t compromise on performance which gave the Laredo that longevity throughout the decades to come.
A model similar to the CJ-7, the CJ-8 or Scrambler, was a stretched version that included long rear overhang for extra space. The CJ-8 followed soon after and became an international hit.
The exit of the Wagoneer paved the way for the exceptional 1984 Jeep Cherokee, which set a new standard for luxury SUVs. Much smaller than the Wagoneer, it also featured the revolutionary UniFrame, as opposed to the regular chassis and frame combo.
The Wrangler, also known as the YJ range, replaced the iconic CJ range. The wider track and modernized interior made this a great option for adventure seekers. While the exterior resembled the CJ range, the interior and engine were more Cherokee.
The Grand Era
The Jeep Grand Cherokee set the bar high for SUVs with its driver’s side airbags and additional interior comfort measures. The 1993 model also had the option of a V-8 engine. The nineties also happened to be the end of an era for the Grand Wagoneer, which was discontinued.
The Wrangler, on the other hand, was having a great run with the 1997 Jeep Wrangler, or TJ model. It sported better handling both on and off the road.
A New Millennium for Jeep
Several hot new models were introduced in the 2000s, such as the Jeep Liberty, which replaced the Cherokee. Engine options included a 3.7-liter V-6 option or the 2.8-liter turbo diesel.
2011 Is Where It’s At
2011 was a big year for Jeep, as it was the brand’s 70th anniversary. Two special edition models, the Jeep Patriot and the Jeep Compass, were introduced. They included special branding and features, such as unique exterior paint colors. This also happened to be a good decade for the Grand Cherokee, with enhanced fuel efficiency and additional safety features.
A Modern Marvel
The 2020 Gladiator became the new face of Jeep, with its stellar towing and hauling capacity. Possibly the most impressive trim in this range was the Gladiator Mojave, which happened to be the first desert-rated vehicle. The prowess on the dunes didn’t take away from the interior, as comfort and convenience still played their part.
The Wrangler Rubicon 392 wasn’t far behind with its 4×4 trail rated capability. The Electronic Sway Bar Disconnect feature is what allows this beast to scale those trails and rocky crevasses.
Currently, the Wrangler 4xe is making waves with its 2021 Green SUV of the Year award. It features a hybrid-turbocharged engine that kicks out 375 horsepower. But it’s the fuel efficiency that really makes the difference, as it gives 49 MPGe and an estimated driving range of 370 miles.
Contact one of our sales associates here at Huffines Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Plano, Texas, to test drive one of the latest Jeeps we currently have in our inventory. We also have a selection of pre-owned Jeeps in stock.