10 Weird and Little Known Facts About Jeeps
Perhaps the most iconic of all American vehicles there are plenty of stories about the Jeep, its origin and sometimes strange history. Here are cool10 facts:
You’ve been saying Willys wrong all this time.
It’s Not Pronounced “Willies”, it’s “Willis” That’s the gentleman’s name who founded the company, and he should know how to pronounce his own name.
Founder John Willys Never Saw a Jeep
John North Willis was also Ambassador to Poland from 1930 – 1932
John Willis died on August 26, 1935. The first prototype Jeeps weren’t built until 1940.
Who actually invented the Jeep
The first Bantam “Jeep” prototype
Not Bantam, Ford nor Willys, but the Department of Defense, who wrote the very detailed specifications for what would become he Jeep. Bantam was the first submitted for testing, while both Willys and Ford completed their prototypes (using data from the Bantam provided by the Army). Ultimately the Willys Quad (as their prototype was named) was the favorite. The final designation was the MB for Willys and GPW for Ford, and about 700,000 were produced during WW II (about 50/50).
Two US Presidents and Their Jeeps
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe Dwight Eisenhower often traveled by Jeep during WWII and credited the nimble vehicle for its contribution during the war, but there’s no evidence that “Ike” owned a Jeep at any time after the war.
Ronald Reagan drove a Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler at Rancho del Cielo, his Santa Barbara ranch and “Western White House” while he served as president.
As of today, 8 Different Companies Have Owned The Jeep Brand
Going from most recent backwards: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Chrysler LLC, Daimler Chrysler, Chrysler Corporation, Renault (as majority owner of AMC, American Motors Corp., Kaiser Jeep, and Willys-Overland.
The Name “Jeep” Most Likely Came From a Cartoon Character
A 1948 Popeye cartoon acknowledging both Jeeps
The US Army named the little utility vehicle the “G.P.” for General Purpose. At the same time there was a recurring character in “Popeye” cartoon starting in 1936 called “Eugene the Jeep” who had the ability to do anything or go about anywhere. It’s believed that someone put the two together and created a nickname Jeep that became a brand that’s going strong even after 75 years and 8 owners.
What An English Sports Car Builder Had To Do With A Jeep Engine
The SOHC crossflow Tornado engine installed in a restored Jeep
The Jeep engine of the 1950s were pretty low-tech affairs, but not inconsistent with how the company saw the consumer using the vehicle (farms, ranches, construction, etc.). As larger and more comfortable models were launched it was clear a new engine was required, and the engineers at Kaiser Jeep created a very good one. In fact, it was the first SOHC six-cylinder engine mass produced in the US post-war. Credit for this engine (which Willys named the Tornado OHC) went to its Chief Engineer A. C. Sampietro who had come to Willys from England where he had worked for Donald Healey of Austin Healey fame. Among other features the design cleverly used a single camshaft lobe per cylinder to great effect.
The Jeep Tornado Engine Was Built Until 1982 By Renault in Argentina
The fourth place finisher from the 1969 84 Hours of the Nurburgring
In 1966 American Motors formed a joint venture in Argentina, to be called Torino. The engine chosen was the Jeep Tornado SOHC six. Renault purchased the company in 1975 and continued producing the Torino until 1982. The highlight of the car’s history was its top finish at the 84 Hours of the Nurburgring in 1969, though accumulated penalties dropped the car for fourth overall.
Virtually every part to construct a Jeep from scratch is available from vendors that manufacture replacement parts. Everything from body panels and frame rails to nuts and bolts and decals can be purchased through a catalog. The only caveat being that depending upon the year you choose, you might have to source some of the heavier cast parts, though components to conduct a complete rebuild remain available.
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