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Commemorative Wrangler Willys – Happy Birthday Jeep

It started back in 1941. Willys-Overland was awarded the contract to build a vehicle for the War Department — a vehicle soon known as the jeep. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of that event (which was actually yesterday), Jeep built an OD (olive drab) 75th Salute edition Wrangler. Everything about it recalls the ubiquitous jeeps of WWII and later years; no doors, no roll bar, canvas seats and a six-speed manual transmission.

Those first jeeps were built in Toledo, Ohio. Jeeps (including the commemorative one) are still manufactured there today.

Here it is rolling of the assembly line before being taken out to an employee picnic.

Build one out online and see what it would cost you right here.

Here's a look at one of the first prototypes.

Here's what Jeep has to say about it.

Commemorative Wrangler Willys – Happy Birthday Jeep!

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 a 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 a two-speed transfer case, fold-down windshield, three bucket seats, blackout and driving lights and a gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs.

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. The Army took possession of these vehicles in November 1940 at Camp Holabird, Maryland. Each of the three designs exceeded the Army's specification of 1,300 lbs., 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 Pygmies and Willys would build 1,500 Quads. Further testing and evaluation led to the Army's selection of the Willys vehicle as the standard.

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. In 1941, the Willys MB began rolling off the assembly line straight into the heat of battle and the rest is history.

Happy Birthday Jeep 1


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