Monday, June 3, 2024

The Origin of the Jeep oIIIIIIIo



Do you ever ponder the history behind the items used in daily life? What were the origins? Why were they created? Were there many iterations? If you read this blog on the regular, you likely learned details concerning the legacy of the LifeSaver (candy that is) to the birth of the Barbie. Today we will visit the beginning journey of the versatile Jeep.

We have three Jeeps in our family. Which makes me wonder, is it Jeep (plural) like sheep? Or is it Jeeps? Whichever may be the proper grammar, we must favor this multifunctional vehicle to own three under one roof – or rather, outside the roof. The odd part of the story is that I used to be the only one driving said auto. Now the other three members of the family sit behind the wheel of various Jeep models while I drive an SUV. Seasons - what can I say?

I gathered intel and photos from two locations for this post. The first images you will see below are from the Airborne Museum in the Normandy region of France. Former blogger, Cindy Stewart (author of Abounding Hope) and I, went on a writing research trip. We visited the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église. More on that in an upcoming post. I shot the subsequent photos at the Musée de l'Armée-Les Invalides in Paris, France.

So where did it all begin? Who wanted the Jeep and why?

The United States Army searched for a vehicle to replace horses and motorcycles. They needed a light option that could handle all types of terrain. 36 years of research yielded the required specifications. Then, in 1940, the Army propositioned 135 companies to create a prototype within 49 days and deliver 69 more within 75 days. Two companies heeded the call. American Bantam Co. and Willys Overland Inc. toiled to design a winner. Karl K. Probst of Bantam spent five days drawing what would later become the “Jeep.” He suggested using parts from vehicles already in production. He met the US Army expectations in all facets except weight. His model weighed 1848 pounds which was 548 in excess.

Bantam began producing the new vehicle. They could not produce
them quickly enough, so the job was offered to Willys and eventually, Ford. Bantam did retain the Jeep Trailer license.

Willys started to manufacture the MB Jeep (M = Military and B = new model). The order of 16000 units split between Willys, Ford, and GPW to guarantee completion. Next, Hotchkiss, a French company produced Jeeps starting in 1952. They produced 27,628 units including civilian and the M201 for the French Army.


The Jeep website states the Army awarded a Purple Heart to a Jeep during WWII. I'm not sure about that claim. They also provided this quote from Scripps Howard reporter Ernie Pyle, "It did everything. It went everywhere. Was as faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, ad as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going."

I am going to date myself a bit with this observation. My dad watched M.A.S.H. reruns during my youth. In fact, the theme song still runs through my head and reminds me of earlier days. I wasn’t always permitted to watch, but I do recall an episode with a motorcycle with a side car. This was a superfluous mode of transportation at that point due to the popularity and functionality of the Jeep.

The Jeep website states the Army awarded a Purple Heart to a Jeep during WWII. I'm not sure about that claim. They also provided this quote from Scripps Howard reporter Ernie Pyle, "It did everything. It went everywhere. Was as faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, ad as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going." The Jeep allowed the addition of components like machine guns. It could be retrofitted to run on railway tracks. The use extended to snow, deserts, and other varied purposes. They could be loaded on aircraft for transport. Due to the lack of overall weight, they were even placed in the gliders used for D-Day. More on that in the Airborne Museum post to follow.

While the Army still uses the Jeep, so to do civilians. The ability to modify for style, personality, and function attracts drivers and copycats. Ford recently released a competitor in their redesigned Bronco. The Jeep and the Bronco provide opportunities to remove doors, tops, change hard tops for soft, and much more. I'm not sure how far personalization extends on Broncos, but for a Jeep, the sky is the limit. Drivers can change parts for different colors and styles. They can lift the Jeep, add roof racks, and even install a tent on the roof.

There is an entire Jeep culture among civilian drivers. The infamous Jeep wave is a form of respect. Where we live, each year Jeep Fest draws Jeep drivers from near and wide for a weekend full of events. There is also the craze to be "ducked." Members of the Jeep community place rubber duckies (sometimes themed) on the hood or in the handle of other Jeep vehicles in parking lots. This fun form of bother/sisterhood unites drivers. I almost forgot, there is also a Jeep truck. All this to say, Jeep had its roots in 1940 with the US Army and its branches now reach far and wide. All these traditions and modifications over the years began thanks to a need and an initial 36 years of research by the American Army. 

What about your family? Do you have a Jeep?

You can read more about the origin of the Jeep, as well as the iterations to follow on the Jeep website.

As a child, Rebecca loved to write. She nurtured this skill as an educator and later as an editor for an online magazine. Rebecca then joined the Cru Ministry - NBS2GO/Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO, at its inception. She serves as the YouVersion Content Creator, with over 115 Plans in 44 languages, on the Bible.com app.

Rebecca lives near the mountains with her husband and a rescued dog named Ranger. If it were up to her, she would be traveling - right now. First stop would be to visit their two grown sons. As a member of ACFW and FHLCW, Rebecca learns the craft of fiction while networking with a host of generous writers. Photo above of Rebecca (at left) and Cindy (at right) on their writing research trip.

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3 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting. We do not own a Jeep but we know many people who love them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the olllllo -- is there a name for that, when we use letters to make a graphic?

    ReplyDelete