Motoring Weekly

Tale of timeless adventure

September 12 - 18, 2018

Gulf Weekly Stan Szecowka
By Stan Szecowka

Gulf Weekly Tale of timeless adventure

FOR more than 75 years the Jeep brand has been indelibly linked to freedom, adventure, authenticity and passion – core values that its makers say are embedded in the DNA of every vehicle.

Throughout its history, fans of the marque have championed its ‘Go Anywhere. Do Anything.’ philosophy as a way of life, not just a slogan.

Historically, Jeep has long been considered the authentic sport-utility vehicle. Today the company offers a broad line-up of vehicles that continue to give owners a sense of security to handle any journey with confidence.

The Jeep story, however, began way back in July 1940, when the US military informed vehicle makers that it was looking for a light reconnaissance vehicle with a very specific set of criteria: 600-lb load capacity; a wheelbase less than 75 inches; height less than 36 inches; smooth-running engine from three 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-lbs.

Delmar Gerle ‘Barney’ Roos, executive vice present and chief engineer of Willys-Overland Motors, designed the Willys Quad, and prototypes were produced for testing in record time and delivered to the army in the summer of 1940. Approval to build 70 sample vehicles was then granted and these were delivered in November 1940.

The next round of contracts was issued in March 1941, with Willys producing a further 1,500 Quads. 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 after Eugene the Jeep, a popular character from the Popeye cartoon strip. Whatever its origin, the name entered into American vocabulary and, for a while, served almost as a generic title for off-road vehicles.

Willys-Overland went on to build more than 368,000 vehicles, and the rugged, reliable olive-drab vehicle would forever be known for helping win a world war.

The Jeep name was trademarked after the war with a plan 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.”

Jeep civilian vehicles – and their model codes – soon become legends in their own right.


The 1940s

Jeep CJ-2A: The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the rugged and versatile CJ-2A was marketed as ‘the all-around farm workhorse’. It could do the job of two heavy draft horses, operating at a speed of four miles per hour, 10-hours-a-day, without overheating the engine, and was to serve agriculture and industry all over the world in a thousand different ways.

Willy’s Wagon: America’s first all-steel station wagon, the model 463 Jeep Station Wagon featured a three-tone paintwork that simulated the ‘woodie’ look. The no-maintenance all-steel utility vehicle wasn’t prone to weathering, peeling or squeaks like the old style ‘woodies’ and its fold-down tailgate hatch was ahead of its time and can be credited with the origin of the ‘tailgate party’.


The 1950s

Jeep CJ-3B: The CJ Model was updated in 1953, becoming the CJ-3B, with 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 US.

Jeep CJ-5: 1955 saw the introduction of the CJ-5, with a rounded front-fender design. It was slightly larger than the CJ-3B, as it featured an increased wheelbase and overall length.

Jeep CJ-6: Featured a 20-inches longer wheelbase and offered more cargo space. Its 155-horsepower engine almost doubled that of the standard four-cylinder engine, and it was the first time a Jeep CJ could be equipped with a V6.


The 1960s

Jeep Wagoneer / Grand Wagoneer / Cherokee (SJ): In 1962, Jeep introduced the Wagoneer – the father of all luxury 4x4 SUVs. It was packed with innovation and industry firsts – the first automatic transmission in a 4x4 vehicle; the first overhead-cam six-cylinder truck engine, the first 4x4 vehicle with an independent front suspension; the first automatic full-time 4x4 system.

The SJ line was in production for more than 28 years with only minor technical changes and when production ended, was the longest continuous automotive production run, on the same platform, in US automotive history.


The 1970s

Jeep Cherokee (SJ): The new Cherokee was a sporty, two-door version of the Wagoneer and featured bucket seats, a sports steering wheel, and racy detailing designed to appeal to younger, more adventurous drivers.

Jeep CJ-7: The seventh generation of the original vehicle and the first major change in Jeep design in 20 years. It had a slightly longer wheelbase to allow space for an automatic transmission and featured squared-off door openings.


The 1980s

Jeep Cherokee (XJ): When the all-new XJ series made its debut in 1984, it scored an unprecedented sweep of the ‘4x4 of the Year’ awards from three primary off-road magazines. A revolutionary vehicle, it was 21-inches shorter, 6-inches narrower, 4-inches lower, and 1,000 pounds lighter than the full-size Wagoneer (SJ) and was built with a revolutionary uniframe instead of a traditional chassis-and-frame.

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


The 1990s

Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ/WJ): The Grand Cherokee (ZJ) replaced the Wagoneer as a midsized luxury SUV in 1992 and was a design class many automakers would rush to imitate. The first SUV equipped with a driver side airbag, it set new standards for on-road ride, handling and comfort in an SUV and proved immediately popular, winning dozens of awards.

Jeep Wrangler (TJ): Considered the ultimate escape machine, the TJ offered outstanding on-road handling and legendary off-road capability – it was the fifth Jeep brand vehicle to win the 4x4 of the Year award.


The 2000s

Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited (JK): In 2004, Jeep offered a stretched version of the TJ – the Wrangler Unlimited. 10-inches longer in wheelbase (103-inch) and 15 inches longer in overall length, the Unlimited offered two inches more rear leg room, more interior space, and greatly enhanced on-road handling.

Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK): 2011-present

The latest generation Jeep Grand Cherokee – the vehicle that has long defined what a premium SUV should be – delivers an unprecedented combination of best-in-class fuel economy and driving range, a choice of leading powertrain options, legendary benchmark capability, world-class craftsmanship, premium on-road driving dynamics, and more than 70 safety and security features as well as an array of advanced user-friendly technology features, such as the award-winning Uconnect 8.4-inch (213.36 mm) touchscreen radio with integrated climate and infotainment controls, and 7-inch (177.8 mm) TFT customer configurable multi-view display cluster.

Jeep Renegade (BU): 2014-present

The Jeep Renegade marked the brand’s first entry into the small SUV market, with the Trailhawk version being the most capable small SUV ever.

Jeep Cherokee (KL): 2014-present

It revolutionised the midsize SUV segment when it was launched, and the latest 2019 model boasts a new, authentic, more premium design, more interior comfort and convenience, delivering everyday practicality with outstanding ride and handling characteristics, independent front- and rear-suspension systems with world-class body torsional stiffness, high-efficiency nine-speed transmission and more than 80 safety and security features.

Jeep Compass (MP): 2018-present

The new Jeep Compass offers an unmatched combination of attributes that includes legendary and best-in-class 4x4 off-road capability, contemporary and authentic Jeep design, excellent on-road driving dynamics, open-air freedom and a full array of advanced user-friendly connectivity and safety technologies.

“The excitement and innovation keep coming from Jeep, the brand that never stops evolving and innovating,” said a spokesman for Behbehani Brothers, the Jeep dealers in Bahrain.

 For more details, call into the showroom in Sitra or call 17459955.


More on Motoring Weekly