2018 ALL-NEW JEEP WRANGLER History

2018 ALL-NEW JEEP WRANGLER

History



Los Angeles Nov 29, 2017  -  In July 1940, the U.S. military informed automakers that it was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle” to replace the Army's motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T vehicles. The Army invited 135 manufacturers to bid on production, and developed a lengthy specification list for the vehicle, including the following:
  • 600-lb. load capacity
  • Wheelbase less than 75 inches
  • Height less than 36 inches
  • Smooth-running engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour
  • Rectangular-shaped body
  • Four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case
  • Fold-down windshield
  • Three bucket seats
  • Blackout and driving lights
  • Gross vehicle weight below 1,300 pounds

At first, Willys-Overland and American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company were the only two companies answering the call. Soon, however, Ford Motor Company entered the picture, and competition began among the three over which company would receive the lucrative government contract.  Each company produced prototypes for testing in record time. Bantam's chief engineer, along with a team of Bantam executives, worked out a design, and the company built its field car within 49 days.

Willys-Overland Vice President of Engineering Delmar G. Roos designed the Willys Quad. Ford developed its Model GP (General Purpose), known as the Pygmy, which was powered by an adapted Ford/Ferguson tractor. Each company delivered its prototype to the Army in the summer of 1940 and received approval to build 70 sample vehicles.

The Army took possession of the vehicles in November 1940 at Camp Holabird, Maryland. Each of the three designs exceeded the Army's specification of 1,300 pounds, but the Army soon realized that limit was far too low and raised it for the next round of vehicles.

The Army issued the next round of contracts in March 1941. Bantam was to produce 1,500 Model 40 BRC vehicles, Ford would build 1,500 modified and improved GP Pygmy vehicles and Willys-Overland would build 1,500 Quads. Further testing and evaluation led to the Army's selection of Willys-Overland as the primary manufacturer.

Subsequently, most of the Bantams and Ford GPs produced were sent to Great Britain and Russia as part of the lend-lease program. In Great Britain, the Ford vehicle was popularly known as the “Blitz Buggy.”

Willys MA/MB
With modifications and improvements, the Willys Quad became the MA, and later the MB. But the Army, and the world, came to know it as the Jeep®.

Some claimed that the name came from the slurring of the letters “GP,” the military abbreviation for “General Purpose.” Others say the vehicle was named for a popular character named “Eugene the Jeep” in the Popeye cartoon strip. Whatever its origin, the name entered in American lexicon.

The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument clusters on the dashboard and a hand brake on the left side. Willys struggled to reduce the weight to the new Army specification of 2,160 pounds. Items removed for the MA to reach that goal were reinstalled on the next-generation MB, resulting in a final weight of approximately 400 lbs. above the specifications.

Willys-Overland would build more than 368,000 vehicles, and Ford, under license, some 277,000, for the U.S. Army. The rugged, reliable olive-drab vehicle would forever be known for helping win a world war. Willys trademarked the “Jeep” name after the war and planned to turn the vehicle into an off-road utility vehicle for the farm – the civilian “Universal Jeep.” One of Willys' slogans at the time was, “The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep,” and the company set about making sure the world recognized Willys as the creator of the vehicle.
 
Overview of key historical Jeep civilian vehicles

Jeep CJ-2A: 1945-1949
The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A, was produced in 1945. It came with a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, larger headlights, an external fuel cap and many more items not included in the military predecessors. Several CJ-2A features, such as a 134-cubic-inch I-4 engine, a T-90A transmission, Spicer 18 transfer case and a full-floating Dana 25 front and Dana 23-2 rear axle, were found on numerous Jeep vehicles in future years. The CJ-2A was produced for four years.

Jeep CJ-3A: 1949-1953
Introduced in 1948, the CJ-3A was very similar to the previous model, but featured a one-piece windscreen and a more robust rear axle, and retained the original L-head four-cylinder engine.

Jeep CJ-3B: 1953-1968
The CJ Model was updated in 1953, becoming the CJ-3B. It had a taller front grille and hood than its military predecessor in order to accommodate the new Hurricane F-Head four-cylinder engine. The CJ-3B remained in production until 1968 and a total of 155,494 were manufactured in the U.S. In 1953, Willys-Overland was sold to Henry J. Kaiser for $60 million. The Kaiser Company began an extensive research and development program that would broaden the Jeep product range.

Jeep CJ-5: 1955-1983
In 1955, Kaiser introduced the CJ-5, based on the 1951 Korean War M-38A1, with its rounded front-fender design. It was slightly larger than the CJ-3B, as it featured an increased wheelbase and overall length. Improvements in engines, axles, transmissions and seating comfort made the CJ-5 an ideal vehicle for the public's growing interest in off-road vehicles. The CJ-5 featured softer styling lines, including rounded body contours. With an 81-inch wheelbase, more than 600,000 CJ-5s were produced over 30 years.

Jeep CJ-6: 1956-1975
A long-wheelbase (20 inches longer than the CJ-5) model was introduced and known as CJ-6. Apart from a longer wheelbase, the CJ-6 was almost identical to the CJ-5, but with more cargo space. Jeep also introduced a forward-control cab-over-engine variation to the CJ line in 1956. American Motors Corporation (AMC) equipped both the CJ-5 and CJ-6 with heavier axles, bigger brakes and a wider track. In 1965, a new “Dauntless” V-6 engine was introduced as an option on both the 81-inch wheelbase CJ-5 and 101-inch wheelbase CJ-6. The 155-horsepower engine almost doubled the horsepower of the standard four-cylinder engine. It was the first time a Jeep CJ could be equipped with a V-6. Beginning in 1973, all Jeep CJs came equipped with AMC-built 304- or 360-cubic-inch V-8 engines.

Jeep CJ-7: 1976-1986
In 1976, AMC introduced the CJ-7, the first major change in Jeep design in 20 years. The CJ-7 had a slightly longer wheelbase than the CJ-5 to allow space for an automatic transmission. For the first time, the CJ-7 offered an optional molded plastic top and steel doors. Both the 93.5-inch wheelbase CJ-7 and 83.5-inch wheelbase CJ-5 models were built until 1983, when demand for the CJ-7 left AMC no choice but to discontinue the CJ-5, after a 30-year production run.

Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler: 1981-1985
Introduced in 1981, the Scrambler was a Jeep similar to the CJ-7, but with a longer wheelbase. Known internationally as the CJ-8, it was available in either a hardtop or soft-top version. Less than 30,000 Scramblers were built – and are extremely popular among collectors today.

Jeep Wrangler (YJ): 1987-1996
In 1983, the growing market for compact four-wheel-drive vehicles still sought the utilitarian virtues of the Jeep CJ series, but consumers also were seeking more of the “creature comforts” found in passenger cars. The response was discontinuing the CJ series and introducing the 1987 Jeep Wrangler (YJ).

Although the Wrangler shared the familiar open-body profile of the CJ-7, it contained few common parts with its famous predecessor. Mechanically, the Wrangler had more in common with the Cherokee than the CJ-7. The Wrangler YJ had square headlights, which was a first (and last) for this type of Jeep. The YJ model exceeded 630,000 units.

On Aug. 5, 1987, about a year after the introduction of the Wrangler, AMC was sold to the Chrysler Corporation and the popular Jeep brand became a part of Chrysler's Jeep/Eagle Division.

Jeep Wrangler (TJ): 1997-2006
The 1997 Jeep Wrangler (TJ) looked very similar to the CJ-7. Indeed its “heritage” look was quite deliberate, but the vehicle was very different from a mechanical standpoint. Nearly 80 percent of the vehicle parts were newly designed. The TJ used a four-link coil suspension, similar to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and featured a new interior, including driver and passenger air bags. The TJ retained several classic Jeep features, such as round headlights, a fold-down windshield (first seen in 1940) and removable doors, as well as a choice of a soft top or removable hardtop. A factory-fitted sport bar was also standard.

Enter the then-best-equipped Jeep ever – the 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. This vehicle earned the right to be called by the legendary trail name, as it was equipped with push-button-actuated locking front and rear Dana 44 axles, a 4:1 low-range transfer case, 32-inch tires and many more options not available on any production Jeep before it.

In 2004, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was introduced — a longer-wheelbase Wrangler, featuring 13 inches more cargo room and two inches of additional second-row legroom. While maintaining the unmatched open-air fun and 4x4 capability of the original Jeep Wrangler, the Unlimited model offered more refined on-road comfort, as well as even more versatility.

Jeep Wrangler (JK): 2007-2018
Building on the successful, original Jeep formula with an all-new frame, exterior and interior design, engine, and safety and convenience features, the JK delivered more capability, refinement, interior space and comfort, open-air fun, power, fuel efficiency and safety features.

Featuring a one-of-a-kind, four-door open-air design, the JK Wrangler expanded the Jeep experience to new dimensions. With room for five adult passengers – a Wrangler first – and the most cargo space ever offered in a Wrangler, the Unlimited combines class-leading off-road capability with everyday practicality.

Jeep Wrangler (JL): 2018
A modern design that stays true to the original, the all-new Wrangler JL delivers even more capability and offers three advanced fuel-efficient powertrains, more open-air options, technology and safety features. A modern approach to an authentic design, with new exterior and interior styling, Wrangler JL builds on the Jeep brand’s rich history with heritage-inspired design cues and its iconic round headlamps and square tail lamps, which provide a distinctive Wrangler character.

For the first time ever on Wrangler, the use of lightweight, high-strength aluminum doors, door hinges, hood, fenders and swing gate are utilized and helps reduce weight and boost fuel economy. Two gasoline and one diesel engine options will be available – two of which are turbocharged, another first for Wrangler. Both Wrangler two- and four-door models offer even more capability and everyday practicality, while delivering an unmatched open-air driving experience.
 

About Jeep Brand
Built on more than 75 years of legendary heritage, Jeep is the authentic SUV with class-leading capability, craftsmanship and versatility for people who seek extraordinary journeys. The Jeep brand delivers an open invitation to live life to the fullest by offering a full line of vehicles that continue to provide owners with a sense of security to handle any journey with confidence.

The Jeep vehicle lineup consists of the Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Renegade and Wrangler. To meet consumer demand around the world, all Jeep models sold outside North America are available in both left and right-hand drive configurations and with gasoline and diesel powertrain options.

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