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The History and Origin of the Jeep Wrangler

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    During the Second World War the United States Military put out a request to many vehicle manufacturers for a versatile vehicle that would meet a set of specifications. They wanted a four-wheel drive vehicle, weighing in at 1,300 pounds, with an 80 inch wheelbase, a maximum tread of 47 inches, 85 pound-feet of engine torque, minimum 6. 25 inches of ground clearance, able to hold a 600 pound payload and a cooling system to drive low speeds and prevent overheating. This vehicle was to be designed and built in 49 days from the requested date.

    The company now known as Jeep along with ford accepted this challenge and manufactured the first Jeep called the Willys MB in 1941 (Fetherston). The Willys MB sparked the beginning of the Civilian Jeep series also known as the CJ series. The CJ series gave influence to the current Wrangler Series including the YJ, TJ and JK. Then lastly the company JGMS or Jeep Government and Military Sales brings the return of the military Jeep with the Jeep J8. From the first Willys MB to the Jeep J8 many things have changed and have been improved to continually better the Jeep Wrangler (Origin of the Term Jeep).

    Primary Military Jeeps Willys MB Though the Bantam car company met all of the desired requirements and well within the required deadline the United States Army decided that Bantam would not be able to produce the amount of Jeeps needed. Willys was chosen to manufacture and add any necessary changes or modifications to Bantam’s designs (Doyle). Scripps Howard WWII Reporter Ernie Pyle once said, “It did everything. It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going. Between 1941 and 1945 335,531 Willys MBs were produced and used in every aspect of the Army (Discover Jeep History. Below in figure 1 is an original Willys MB. Figure 1. 1941 Willys MB (IFCAR 2007) Ford GPW Even though Willys was a larger car company, they still would not be able produce the number of Jeeps needed by the U. S. Army. So Willys sought out Ford Motor Company to be a sub-contractor. Ford accepted and manufactured 281,578 Ford GPW, the only difference was that the Ford GPW had from the Willys MB was that the tailgate had the ford logo on it (Doyle).

    CJ Models

    The CJ or Civilian Jeep was the first Jeep to be manufactured for the public. The CJ was in production from 1944 to 1986. During these years the ownership and manufacturers started with Willys-Overland from 1944 to 1953, and then Kaiser-Jeep took over from 1953 to 1970 and then from 1970 to 1987 American Motors Corporation manufactures the CJ. The primary models being produced over these years were the CJ-2A, CJ-3A, CJ-5, CJ-7 and CJ-8 (Chilton’s Jeep CJ/Scrambler, 1971-86 Repair Manual). Below in figure 2 is a Jeep CJ model. Figure 2. Jeep CJ-5 model with original V6 engine. Ziemnowicz, Christopher 2008) CJ-2A The CJ-2A or the Willys-Overland CJ-2A was the first full production Jeep being manufactured from 1945 to 1949. The CJ-2A was designed mainly for use by farmers and was to replace the jobs of horses on the farm. It came with the T-90 3-speed manual transmission and was powered by the 134CID Flathead 60 horsepower Inline 4 engine (Chilton’s Jeep CJ, 1945-70 Repair Manual). Since the CJ-2A was designed mainly for farm use, there was a lot of equipment that could be bought to accomplish the many needs on the farm (Discover Jeep History).


    After the years of the CJ-2A, in late 1949 the CJ-3A was released. The CJ-3A is a better version of the CJ-2A and was in production until 1953. The changes made to the CJ-3A were a stronger 10 leaf suspension and the driver seat was moved back. Through 1951 to 1953 Willys-Overland offered a Farm Jeep version of the CJ-3A that had many options that made the CJ-3A more durable and a farm friendly. Between 1949 and 1953 131,843 CJ-3As we produced and sold (Chilton’s Jeep CJ, 1945-70 Repair Manual). CJ-5 In 1954 after Kaiser-Jeep took over the production of the CJ series, the CJ-5 was born.

    The CJ-5 was available with many styles and options making each CJ-5 different. The CJ-5 came with either a 3 speed or 4 speed manual transmissions. There were six different engines available for the CJ-5 built by various companies. AMC manufactured three engines; 232 cubic inch 3. 8 liter AMC Inline 6, a 258 cubic inch 4. 2 liter AMC Inline 6 and a 304 cubic in 5. 0 liter AMC V8. Also a 151 cubic inch 2. 5 liter Iron Duke Inline 4, a 225 cubic inch 3. 7 liter dauntless V6 and lastly the 192 cubic inch 2. 3 liter Perkins Diesel Inline 4.

    The CJ-5 was built with a wider wheelbase and an overall larger body. The CJ-5 was the longest produced Jeep and was the first Jeep to have special models available (Chilton’s Jeep CJ, 1945-70 Repair Manual). CJ-7 The CJ-7 was in production from 1976 to 1986, 379,299 were built during those years of production. It was designed with a larger wheelbase to have space for the automatic transmission. The CJ-7 came with many different engines; the 2. 5 liter AMC Inline 4, 2. 5 liter GM Iron Duke Inline 4, 3. 8 liter AMC Inline 6, 4. 2 liter AMC Inline 6, 5. 0 liter AMC V8 and the 2. 4 liter Isuzu Diesel C240.

    All of these engines were coupled with a 5 speed, 4 speed, 3 manual transmission or the 3 speed automatic transmission (Chilton’s Jeep CJ/Scrambler, 1971-86 Repair Manual). Jeep Wrangler (1987) Transition from CJ to Wrangler The Jeep wrangler is the fourth generation of Jeeps. The Wrangler replaced the well-known Jeep CJ Models and brought a better equipped off road vehicle. In 1987 the Wrangler was released with the YJ, then rereleased in 1997 with the TJ and once again released in 2007 with the JK. From 1987 to present time the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Company are owned and anufactured by Chrysler (Gunther). YJ (1987-1996) The YJ Wrangler was first introduced on 1987 and was set apart from any other past Jeep for many reasons. One way it was set apart was that the YJ was equipped with square headlights, which were never used again on any future Wranglers. Another new option available with the Wrangler was the choice between soft top and hardtop. The Wrangler was designed with a wider track and was set lower to the ground. These changes were made to have a more comfortable jeep that appealed to drivers. AMC or the American Motor Company manufactured all three engines for the YJ.

    First was the 2. 5 liter AMC 150 Inline 4, 4. 2 liter AMC 258 Inline 6 and the 4. 0 liter AMC 242 Inline 6; which was the most powerful and preferred engine out of the three. The YJ had five transmissions that came stock. The 4 cylinder engines were paired with the Aisin AX-5 and the TorqueFlite 904; then the 6 cylinder engines were paired with the Aisin AX-15, Peugeot BA-10 and the TorqueFlite 999 (Gunther). The YJ Wrangler was available in different trim levels throughout the years; the most common were the Islander produced from 1988 to 1993 and the Renegade produced from 1991 to 1994.

    The Islander package included a 20 gallon fuel tank, body color flares and side steps, sunset graphics, floor carpeting, center console with cup holders and the option of full or half doors. The Renegade package was the most deluxe package out of all of the YJ models. It came with what was included in the islander package excluding the sunset graphics and also including larger tires, wider aluminum wheels, and full size spare, off road shocks, full carpeting, secure glove box and center console, along with a few other upgraded features (Gunther).

    TJ (1997-2006) The YJ paved the way for the TJ Wrangler to be released in 1997. A big change with the TJ was the return of the round headlights that were on the CJ Models. The TJ came stock with either the 2. 5 liter AMC 150 Inline 4, 2. 4 liter PowerTech Inline 4 or the 4. 0 liter AMC 242/ PowerTech Inline 6 Engines. These engines were coupled with many different transmissions (Discover Jeep History). The TJ came in two special models the Rubicon and the Unlimited. The Wrangler Rubicon was released in 2003 and had many extra features.

    Mainly the Rubicon was equipped with more durable front and rear axles with locking differentials, larger wheels and tires and a lower range transfer case. The Unlimited was released in 2004 and had a 10 inch longer body that provided 13 more inches of rear storage. Then in 2005 Jeep released the combination of the two, the Rubicon Unlimited. It had all of the features of the Rubicon and the extended body of the Unlimited (Discover Jeep History). JK (2007-Present) Figure 3. Jeep JK Unlimited (IFCAR 2010) In 2007 Jeep released the all new and completely redesigned Jeep Wrangler JK.

    The JK Wrangler came in either 2 door or 4 door styles. From 2007 to 2011 the JK came with the 3. 8 Liter EGHV6 engine and was coupled with either the 4 speed Ultradrive 42RLE automatic transmission or the 6 speed Chrysler NSG370 manual transmission. Then from the new 2012 models, the JK comes with the 3. 6 Liter Pentastar V6 engine and is coupled with either the 5 speed W5A580 automatic or the 6 speed Chrysler NSG370 manual transmission. Conclusion Jeep and Ford brought the United States Military the Willys MB in 49 days. Over the past 70 years Jeep has been giving the world an all-American 4X4 Freedom machine (Doyle).

    Beginning with the Military issued Willys MB through the years changing and improving the design. Jeep manufactured the CJ, YJ and TJ models using each of the former models to build the best Jeep. All of the earlier models were important stepping stones for the current Jeep Wrangler JK model. The current JK model inspired Jeep Government and Military Sales to bring back the military jeep J8 to the world. Jeep is the oldest off-road vehicle and sports utility vehicle brand. It is continually striving to be the best in its class (Discover Jeep History).

    Works Cited

    1. BrokenSpere. A covered Willys MB/Ford GPW at the Wings over Wine Country 2007 air show atthe Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport in Sonoma County, California. 18 August2007. JPEG file.
    2. “Discover Jeep History. ” Jeep. com. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. http://www. jeep. com/en/history/.
    3. Doyle, David. “M38A1. COM – Military Jeep History… ” M38A1 Restoration Site. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. <http://www. m38a1. com/Resources/history. htm>.
    4. Freeman, Kerry A. Chilton’s Jeep CJ, 1945-70 Repair Manual. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book, 1997. Print. Freeman, Kerry A. Chilton’s Jeep CJ/Scrambler, 1971-86 Repair Manual.
    5. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book, 1994. Print. Fetherston, David. Jeep: [warhorse, Workhorse & Boulevard Cruiser]. Osceola, WI: Motor International, 1996. Print.
    6. Gunther, Martin. Chilton’s Jeep Wrangler/YJ 1987-95 Repair Manual. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book, 1995. Print.
    7. IFCAR. 2007-2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited photographed in Annapolis, Maryland, USA. 7 April2010. JPEG file.
    8. “Origin of the Term Jeep. ” Military Information HQ. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <http://olive drab. com/od_mvg_www_jeeps_origin_term. php>.
    9. Ziemnowicz, Christopher. Jeep CJ-5 model with original V6 engine. Red open body. 21September 2008. JPEG file.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Feel free to contact us anytime, we are always ready to help you!

    When was the Jeep Wrangler invented?
    The History of the Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep Wrangler first entered the wold in 1987 and has grown to be one of the most recognizable vehicles manufactured today and definitely the most iconic Jeep vehicle.
    Where did the Jeep Wrangler come from?
    There is some truth to both assessments, but in reality the Wrangler is simply another member of the lineage that started when the first so-called Jeep vehicles, which were built by entities as varied as Ford and Willys, bounced the Allies to victory across war-torn Europe and the Pacific islands in the 1940s.
    Where was the first Jeep Wrangler made?
    The Jeep Wrangler YJ was the first model of the Wrangler. They were introduced in early 1986 at the Chicago Auto show. They were manufactured at the Toledo South Assembly Plant in Ohio.
    Who originally made Jeep Wrangler?
    Designed in 18 hours by Karl Probst, a freelance auto designer from Detroit, the 1,840-pound Bantam exceeded the Army's expectations during initial testing in September 1940.

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