By on December 8, 2009

man's alter ego?

Two key evolutionary developments define humans: a large brain and the ability to run long distances cross-country. That explains why the Jeep is the most iconic vehicle on the face of the planet. The fruits of our brain activity increasingly entrapped us in urban confinement and the constraints of pavement. The Jeep offered the way out: the freedom to take us anywhere our legs once had, and our horses after that. It embodied the cowboy myth, updated for the second half of the twentieth century; the last hurrah of Americans’ conquest of its open spaces. The Jeep became the mechanical alter-ego of man. Well, at least of one six-year old.

CC 62 041 800My father being an inveterate hiker, long family walks that started at our house in the center of Innsbruck and ended up in the Alpine slopes were a regular affair. In the city-center areas, I was a streetcar whose electricity came through a stick that I would brush along the walls of the buildings. The gaps between them meant a dangerous drop of energy (and attendant humming noise), and I would just barely be able to coast to the next one. As we reached the less densely-built areas, I would become a car; choice of make, model and its  corresponding noises depended on my mood.

But once we made the abrupt transition from the flat valley to the steep road heading up the hillside, I always became a Jeep. The Go Devil four’s blubbering exhaust kept my lips busy. My hands were occupied finding the right combination of range and gears with that assortment of levers on the floor in order to keep me moving over any terrain, even at a crawl over big rocks.  The only problem was that I had a small gas tank, and the Jeep would inevitably run out of fuel and sputter to a stop. To my father’s eternal frustration, that meant the turnaround point in the hike, unless the Jeep conveniently happened to stop in sight of a Gasthaus or Alm Hutte.

I can credit my early influential Jeep exposure to its original purpose: the winning of WW II. The Allies left behind enough of them for the tiny post-war Austrian military to adopt as their own. At least those ended up in the hands of the former enemy legitimately. My father, who was a medic on the Russian front with the Wehrmacht, remembers how highly prized captured Jeeps were. The Germans were in full retreat from the Russians in the Ukraine during the winter of ’43-’44. When a sudden thaw turned the countryside into a morass of knee-deep mud, the German trucks and VW Kubelwagen were at a severe disadvantage for lack of front driving axles.

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But the powerful 4×4 Jeeps (60 hp compared to the VW’s 25) and the highly prized 6×6 2.5 ton GMC and Studebaker trucks that the Russians got from the US were seemingly unstoppable in the Ukrainian mud, which was all-too similar to that in the US Midwest. Every German unit tried to end up with at least one Jeep and as many “Studebakers” as possible. Western Europe was a densely built-up land of many roads, leading to military transport solutions that either favored road-limited vehicles, like the RWD trucks and VWs, or the more extreme but maintenance intensive off-road solutions like the German half-tracks. The American adoption of mass-production AWD technology equally at home in both conditions was a revolutionary solution that helped win the war and changed the perceptions of cars’ possibilities forever. And armies around the world quickly copied the Jeep, legitimately or not.

Enough of the enemy’s perspective. There’s not enough time here but to give a quick overview of the Jeep’s remarkable beginnings and war-time accomplishments. Bantam Motors, a tiny struggling maker of teeny cars, responded to an RFP from the military in 1940. Using Spicer axles and transfer cases, they cobbled up the first proto-Jeep in a few weeks. Willys and Ford also developed prototypes. The big hurdle for those two was the military’s extremely low weight target, initially 1200 lbs. Bantam had the tiny engine and small-car experience to do what Ford and Willys couldn’t. Early test were promising and a modest number were built for grueling tests.

Go DevilEventually, the weight limit was pushed up to 2160 lbs, giving the Ford and Willys the edge in developing the definitive Jeep. The more powerful 60 hp engine ultimately gave Willys the nod, and Ford ended up building Jeeps under license. Bantam was left out in the cold, building trailers for the vehicle it created. Here’s a wonderful ten minute video of the Jeep’s early days, its grueling tests and subsequent success: the “Autobiography of the Jeep” . If you look carefully, there’s a brief glimpse of an original curved-nose Bantam prototype on the test range at 3:31 minutes.

Some 640k Jeeps were built during the war, for $648 each ($7850 adjusted). This nice example was built in 1945. The owner, a neighbor down the street, drives it regularly, preferably with the windshield down in the summer. It still brings up a tinge of deep seated desire and envy every time I see him bopping down the road with the wind in his face. Once a Jeep, always a Jeep.

I did finally buy one, an ’85 Cherokee, during the early days of the second wave of Jeep-driven SUV mania. But the Cherokee was a long way from the cheap surplus Jeeps that started the 4×4 boomlet after the war.  They, and the subsequent post-war CJs did for off-roading what the Model T had done on-road.

Prior to WWII, four-wheel drive was an expensive and relatively rare proposition. Marmon-Harrington and other companies offered 4×4 conversions, mainly to Ford passenger cars. They made great hunting rigs for the affluent, but their high cost made them inaccessible to the average Joe. But the mass production of four wheel drive components for the Jeep changed the equation forever.

CC 62 050 800The Jeep’s post-war revolution’s first stage was somewhat slow in developing. Surplus Jeeps were cheap. Willys tried to market the civilian CJ-2 as an agricultural tractor alternative. Eventually, off-shoots like the Willys Jeep Wagon and its successor, the Wagoneer, began to expand and civilize the four-wheeler market. By the sixties, the other manufacturers could smell the 4×4 future coming. The IH Scout and Ford Bronco jumped in first. The sea change came with the K5 Blazer in 1969 and its pick-up-based imitators. And 4×4 pickups themselves began to morph from butt-busting hard-sprung beasts to more civilized incarnations. By the seventies the SUV moniker was coined, and the first SUV phase was exploding, although then it was mostly a manly affair.

The second phase is closely associated with the Cherokee and its ilk: more reasonably sized and much more civilized. Now it was Mommy who didn’t want to be seen in anything other than a Cherokee or Explorer at the school parking lot. As gas prices kept dropping, Suburbans and Expeditions took their place. And now we’re in the deep end of the third phase: CUVs. But as they become ever more car-like, the Jeep influence is getting mighty hard to discern. What exactly does an AWD Flex have in common with a Jeep other than four driven wheels?

The truth is, the Jeep’s remarkably long reign as the source of automotive dreams and trends is well over. Looking back on it, it was one of the more ridiculous mega-automotive manias ever, once it metastasized.  Why would folks that would never contemplate dropping a wheel off a curb punish themselves with hard-riding, ill-handling, gas-guzzling beasts? I ask rhetorically because I already know the answer.

The freedoms to zip down the road in a Mustang with hair in the wind or escape to a hidden mountain lake in a Jeep are both deep-seated and cherished symbols of the exuberant post-war American experience. But change is blowing in the wind, and the question to ponder is not why we all drove them, but whether these icons have truly run their course, forever? And if so, what revolutionary agent has taken their place?

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59 Comments on “Curbside Classic: Five Revolutionary Vehicles – No. 5 – 1945 Willys Jeep MB...”


  • avatar

    Can’t argue with this one. Jeep’s history is full of revolutionary vehicles:
    The wartime MJ
    The post-war CJ
    The 1946 Willys Station Wagon
    The 1963 Wagoneer
    The 1984 XJ Cherokee
    The 1993 Grand Cherokee

    Other less significant, but equally interesting models:
    The 1948 Jeepster
    The 1956 FC Series pickups
    The 1966 Jeepster Commando

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean23

      I’d have to add the early 80′s Scrambler to your list. My uncle had an ’83 Golden Eagle Scrambler that fit his Camel man personna like a glove. Finding them now in any kind of decent condition is next to impossible without paying through the nose.

      Also, don’t forget the AMC goodness that came from the 4×4 Jeep. The ’83 AMC Eagle wagon was one of the first cars I knew of with push-button four wheel drive and was two decades ahead of the current CUV craze.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Neither can I.

      And I agree with your list of revolutionary Jeeps.

      what’s the function of the 3 levers? 1 for normal gearshifting, 1 for transfer case and the other?

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Stingray
      December 8th, 2009 at 12:09 pm  

       Stingray,

      I believe it’s like this:

      1. Gearshift
      2. Transfer case
      3. High – Low Range (In effect giving the driver 6 forward speeds and two reverses).

      Neither can I.
      And I agree with your list of revolutionary Jeeps.
      what’s the function of the 3 levers? 1 for normal gearshifting, 1 for transfer case and the other?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Stingray, Good noticing; I wondered if anyone would catch it. There are four levers there: The tall one is the transmission. Of the three smaller ones, one is high-low range, the other engages the front axle. The owner also added an auxiliary overdrive; that’s the third small lever. Makes on-the road cruising more leisurely, as if that were possible!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I would add the 1997 TJ Wrangler – they kept what was good about prior Wranglers/CJs and dramatically improved the ride, handling and off-road capability of the stock platform thanks to the flexy 4-corner coil spring suspension. They even managed to add airbags that won’t go off inadvertently during the most severe off road pounding. If your airbags go off while off road, then they probably needed to.  

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The rope on the bumper is a great touch. It makes me want to buy a Jeep and copy it!

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Two key evolutionary developments define humans: a large brain and the ability to run long distances cross-country.

    How ’bout opposable thumbs?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      It allows for driving cars, right?

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      Many primates have opposable thumbs. Koalas have two opposable thumbs on each hand and just sit around all day eating and belching (a bit like a few people I know). Our ancestor’s ability to hunt and gather over the large Savannah plains and form a society based around that led to the divergence from our forest dwelling cousins.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean23

      Good point, although I’d like to say the Koala is missing the big brain thing and to the fact that I know many homonid primate who likes nothing better than eating and farting in their custom Snuggie.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never heard this running thing being a key element. Virtually every mammal larger than a cat can run long distances cross-country. The gazelle and wildebeest can run far longer and farther than humans, yet hasn’t developed higher civilization. ;)
      Opposable thumbs combined with a large brain is what took us from tree dwellers to builders of internal combustion engines and orbiting satellites.
       

    • 0 avatar
      paul_y

      @Chuck: Actually, a healthy human can out-run, distance-wise, any animal. It’s because we have butts. Seriously.
       
      Thumbs are awesome, but lots of animals have them.

  • avatar
    MasterOfTheJawan

    If you ever go riding in a wrangler or CJ you’ll notice wrangler and CJ drivers all wave to each other. They don’t wave to cherokee or grand cherokee drivers,,, just wranglers and CJs. ie: the REAL jeeps (although many hardcore cj fanboys reject the 97+ wrangers due to the coil springs.)

    • 0 avatar
      tuckerdawg

      Hummer drivers prefer to flip each other the bird…

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean23

      I owned a ’91 Jeep YJ, with the sad underpowered four cylinder. However, I was included in the “real” Jeep club because ’91 was the last year of the old roll-cage style. It was redone in ’92 with the TJ (I may have the letter combos backward), which had the roll cage cover the entire back end, not just the front.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      I hope the leaf spring fanboys have some really strong set of kidneys.

      FJ40 and FJ70 are called here pressure cookers because the suspension will crush you.

      CJs and 1st gen Wranglers were softer, but still tough.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Ah, the “Jeep wave”…I know it well. We TJ (97+ Wranglers) owners get the wave with surprising regularity even from the old timers (CJ’s, YJ Wranglers [87-95]) , especially if your TJ is modified for more serious off-road adventures. 

    • 0 avatar
      UnclePete

      Yeah, one of the sad things is that Wrangler owners wave but other Jeep owners don’t. I miss that from owning a couple of TJs, to now owning a WJ (Grand Cherokee for the non-Jeep people.)

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Excellent article full of interesting history.
    To answer the concluding question: nothing will take the place of these 5 icons because the automobile has lost its currency as the stuff of dreams. People today are more fascinated by high-tech devices for self-expression/self-actualization than cars. (They will still need and use cars but only as appliances.)
    This is probably not a bad thing and is simply evolution.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    “What exactly does an AWD Flex have in common with a Jeep other than four driven wheels?”
    Same aerodynamics?

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    The mention of the Studebaker 6X6 was interesting to me. When Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery was asked, “Field Marshal, what was the most decisive weapon of the war?” he replied laconically, “The 2.5 ton Studebaker six wheel drive truck.”
     
    We all like to talk about tanks and planes but none of it means a fig if you cannot supply them. The 6X6 was a brilliant piece of engineering, robust, reliable and most importantly, with interchangeable parts. It was fast for its day and had the best levels of technology available. Whatever manufacturer made it, the parts would swap out. It was a triumph of industrial cooperation.
     
    The air brake system guaranteed safety and hooked up to a variety of trailers. The 210 mm Long Tom gun had an air brake system that mated directly up to the 6X6 and said gun could be towed at 40 mph. When you realise that the Whermacht was towing its 150 mm guns with horses, it gave the Allies an enormous advantage.
     
    Off topic I know but really cool. What is more, there are still tons of them on the road all over the world.

  • avatar
    EricTheOracle

    I’ve got one of these except mine is a 1941 Ford Jeep and, unlike the Jeep shown here, my Jeep is painted correctly. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3127/2850838713_f77dc7eb2e_o.jpg

  • avatar
    ronin

    Grand Wagoneer. 1963-1991.  A hell of a long life for one model (and not just the NAME of a model).
    The original luxo SUV.  Sure there was a ‘burb before it.  But the GW was the Vail millionaire’s land barge, with every touch of luxury then available, from leather seats to actual sun roofs, on top of that thirsty torque beast 360.
    Every bling SUV since then, from the MDX to the XC90 and so on, owes a nod and a knee to the Grand Lady GW.

  • avatar
    jberger

    My wife has a ’47 and it is absolutely a ball to run around in. Her uncle drove it on base after the war and bought it when it was ‘EOL’ and drove it home. He gave it to her about 10 years ago and it’s still going strong with very little repair work needed.
    It’s in the garage awaiting a rebuilt starter and sunny weather right now.
    After seeing these shots, I’m seriously considering adding the rope on the bumper, that looks outstanding.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    My Grandfather drove one of these from Normandy all the way to Berlin 1944 – 1945 as part of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers attached to the 11th Armoured Division. He told me that not once did it break down on this ‘trip’. His only complaint was in the winter of 44′-45′ where he nearly ended up in hospital with pneumonia because the damn things had no heating vents.
    Strangely enough though he wasn’t impressed by the Jeep, or by the numerous Sherman tanks he had to repair. He was impressed by how apparently indestructable German tanks and vehicles were and from the mid 1950′s until the day he died he bought and drove Volkswagens!

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Another vehicle influenced by the work of Harry Miller.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    My carpool driver’s mother, who had been an army nurse, learned to drive on a jeep on one of the Pacific islands, and her driving style showed it. No smooth steady progress for her, it was hit the gas, hit the gas, hit the gas, until everybody’s neck was sore. I’ll bet she got about 12 mpg, no matter what she drove.

  • avatar

    Rough, crude, and absolutely indispensable.  I’d love to have a WWII jeep.  Blizzard conditions in Omaha right now – I’d bundle up and go for a drive.

  • avatar
    Neb

    Reading about all this legendary offroad machinery makes me a little sad; it seems like fuel prices will eventually make vehicles like the Wrangler vanish. Is it possible to make a Wrangler (or similar) that gets good mileage?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Vehicles the size of a Wrangler or the iconic WWII Jeep can be made to get good fuel economy with the latest technologies we have to offer.  Your likely to see increasingly high top gears, granny low first gears, deep 4L, and then highway 4H.  Those are the things that will keep real off road machines kicking around.  That and the declining numbers of hosers ponying up for one as gas prices rise.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The current Wrangler is quite a departure from the ’06 and older models, which can visually trace their lineage (in the shape of the basic tub) to the M38A1/CJ. In contrast, the current Wrangler has a curved windshield, a sloped grille and an air dam below the front bumper to help direct airflow underneath the vehicle. The “tub” (such as it is) no longer has the high door sills and they look odd without a rear bumper (unlike an older Wrangler),  since it’s more of a “car-like” design where the rear bumper is a fascia integrated into the body design vs. an afterthought.

      Some things that would probably help increase the economy in the future? Front Axle Disconnect would probably help (all that front-drive hardware turns even in 2wd), lower friction bearings and lubricants throughout the drivetrain would probably add some as well, and a diesel would be the ultimate answer, assuming U.S. emissions regs don’t continue to erode the inherent efficiency of diesels.   

  • avatar
    Rick

    It’s great to see this bad boy on the list – I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Jeeps.  My great-great-great uncle Harold Crist was one of the chief engineers (and production foreman) on the team at Bantam that originally designed the Jeep.  My old man had a CJ-7, and I had a 92 Wrangler when I was a pup.  I hope to buy a good CJ-5 or -7 one of these days to keep as a toy.

  • avatar

    My father learned to drive on a Jeep in Ukraine, where he was stationed during WWII. His driving instructor was a race driver, who used to scare the shit out of my father by cornering hard enough to go up onto two wheels, at which point he’d say, “the trouble with these jeeps is you can get them up on two wheels, but you’re not sure whether they’ll come back down.” The Studebakers were a very big deal to the Russians, because they were so reliable, despite the terrible roads, and Studebakers brought the soldiers and the Russians together, the Russians wouild praise the Studebakers.

  • avatar
    jjd241

    It is a shame the pavement queens gave a useful vehicle such a bad image. Those of us who actually lock in the hubs now and then seem to get painted with the same brush as those urbanites who never needed 4×4 in the first place. For the most part these rigs are not intended to be a primary transport vehicle for going accross the country or to the store every day. They were intended for work and play when either required back country access. I am sure someone will snap up the Jeep brand when X’ler bites the dust. I hope they make a decent vehicle so that us used car guys can look forward to picking one up in 20 years!

  • avatar

    Nice article. Of course, as a Brit, I might have to take issue with the statement “[...] the Jeep is the most iconic vehicle on the face of the planet.” Spare a thought for the Land Rover Defender, which is claimed to have been the first vehicle ever been seen by up to a third of the world’s population.

    Call it a draw?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Fair enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      The point of the original Jeep surely must be how influentual as a design it actually was? No Jeep, no Land-Rover. Or Toyota Land-Cruiser, or whatever. Come to think of it, has there ever been a vechicle, that has influenced more other vehicles than the Jeep?

    • 0 avatar
      venator

      Ingvar, are you saying that no one else would have come up with something similar if the Jeep did not come into being? The Jeep in its architecture was merely a scaled-down version of larger vehicles already in use by the US Army, among others. It was only a question of time before somebody else would have made something like it. In fact, other countries’ armies already had in use lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicles, often of more advanced design and specifications.

  • avatar

    Alright, we’ll call it a draw.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    The Jeep is  definitely an  icnic vehicle  It  was my father’s  first car when  he  came  home from  Europe.  I  used  the manual  for it  to repair  the 63 Overland  I  had  in  th e 8os.   I have  had 5 Grand  Wagoneers since  the  Willys, but none had the  character it  had.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Well, from my perspective I won’t call it a draw. You see, the Defender made it to Brazil in, let’s see, 1995? And FWIW it was produced locally for about 10 yrs (and sold for much over USD50K).

    On the other hand the Jeep was w/ us from the gitgo. Down here it spawned a grandaddy of the SUV know as a Jeep Rural and also a pick-up, called very prosaically, a Jeep Pick-Up. You still see them on the road, just chuggin’ along. Ah man, that Rural, saw one recently, beautifully restored (sorry Paul, I know you like your patina!), and updated w/ power ateering and AC. What a beauty! Seriously I don’t really know how to post a link, but y’all should google the Jeep Rural. It’s a beaut.

    As always, great article, and in this case, brought back a lot of memories, as these cars were sold down here. Please keep them coming Mr. Paul Niedermeyer.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    As for the memories, here they go! I basically have two.

    First one, in high school, a classmate of mine had one. Red. He drove it to school almost everyday, w/ the top down and left it parked, right in the street! No, the school didn’t have a parking lot. I wondered how it never got stolen. And when it rained, but that was just part of its coolness. Not to mention that the kid driving it to school was 16 or 17. So, down here, he drove it to school illegaly! Double cool! We all envied the guy. Not to mention his girlfriend was one of the hottest chicks in school! Triple cool! Ah, high school memories…

    Second one, as soon as we entered college, the professors went on strike. So, we as typical no-responsibilities, barely out of our teens, went down to a lake where one of had a house in a gated community. And spent a month or almost 2, there. Well, we went in my car, a Fiat Uno 1.5, 4 guys, light packing and cases and cases of beer. Well, on the 2nd or 3rd night, I drive said car of a cliff. (note to self, don’t mix fast driving w/alcohol and the Ramones screaming in your ears). Mercifully I was unhurt and the little bugger came back for more (after a month and a half at the shop). Luckily, one of our friends father’s had an old Jeep lying around in the garage of his home. We took it. And found ourselves thrilled to be driving around, us 4 guys, in that little jeep, no top, in the sun and rain, at night. Sadly the Jeep was in very poor shape and was drinking even heavier than we were. So from the community to the little town outside (where we’d go everynight to chase after the local girls) was a trip of about 6 miles. Well, we couldn’t do the trip tweice without having to go back to the town to fill it up. It was killing us. Again, luckily, another friend of ours came to stay w/ us by week’s end so we had access to a regular car again. W/ that Jeep eating into our savings at the rate it was doing, I’m sure our “vacation” would’ve been a lot shorter.

    But it was sure cool to drive a Jeep around!

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    From Brazil
    The Jeep Rural looks to me like a Jeep Station Wagon, as we’d call it here in the US.
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3130/2864003566_811218b983_m.jpg
    http://www.4wheelz.net/virtual/images/jeep/1963_jeep_willys01_dfea_im.jpg
    I can’t get a good enough picture of the Rural to tell whether the body work is shared, to some extent, or completely different.    Certainly the front end is different.
     
    Changing gears -
    I’m not surprised the Germans tried to grab Jeeps when they could.    Not only were they good vehicles, but the Germans needed any vehicle they could get.   They used their own vehicles, produced for the Army, and any civilian vehicles they could grab in conquered countries.   They ended up with a motley collection of military and civilian vehicles, all of which had different parts and servicing requirements.    The Germans were also still using horse drawn wagons during the war – yes, the 2nd ww.
     

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, a truly revolutionary, global vehicle as opposed to the North American Mustang and Thunderbirds. Not that I have anything against those particular models, but the Jeep has it ‘going on’ worldwide for over 60 years…
    My Jeep story: In high school (late 1970′s for me) a buddy of mine, for his 16th birthday,  got a brand new Jeep CJ-5 Renegade, mit 304 V8 and all the toys (i.e. 8-track tape deck)! With several buddies of ours went out one chilly Ohio evening and with a little brewed  encouragement and were hurtling down some country dirt roads when the driver saw something (a cat, dog, possum, sasquatch, depending on the environment he was retelling the story in) cross the road. Being a newly minted driver, with a brand new Jeep no less, he tried braking AND swerving, resulting a nice three revolution barrel roll, landing upright on the tires. Miraculously, we all had been wearing seatbelts, and once we confirmed that there were no missing limbs or major dents, we drove home at a very relaxed pace and all of us departed a little wiser and with a greater respect for short-wheelbase high-powered, high center of gravity 4X4′s. Regardless of that experience, I would LOVE to have a V8 CJ5. Or CJ6.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I guy tried to trade an old 54 IIRC military jeep to me a few years back.  He claimed it was some special parachute jeep with special wheels and hooks that was dropped out of airplanes.  The salesman and I went to his house ot look at it along with a 1985 vette with 1k miles on it(yuck)  Anyways this old fellow who also claimed to have invented the turn signal in the mirror, had tow ugly, worthless(to us anyways) cars that he was very very proud of.  I htink he wanted like 10 grand for the vette and 25 for the jeep. I remember saying, “What am I supposed to tell people, this jeep was thrown out of an airplane but its still clean?”   He didn’t get the joke.  Anyways, I always wondered what that old jeep was really worth and couldn’t get down to a value after many phone calls. We ended up tkaing the vette in and he kept the jeep.  anyone know what these old parachute jeeps are worth(if there is such a thing)?  He claimed the military destroyed all but a few when they took them out of service and his was one of only 2 in the USA.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Its an easy choice when winter hits, and I got a AWD Montero Sport and a RWD bimmer. Thank God for all wheel drive.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I just looked at the Jeep “Clocks” ad before reading your piece Paul, and rather think Jeep would have been better served with your storyboard of boy with stick, puttering along in town, until he sees a Jeep, image of boy’s fist dropping stick and stick falling in slow-motion, boy being trasported to Sound of Music-like alm, burbling along, then cut to guy stuck in traffic, loosening tie after hectic day (maybe clock image here), and then, like a pleasant spectre from the past, in traffic, he spots … wait for it … an old Jeep, and is transported forward-backward in time, with next image of him, being his shadow dropping the tie out the door of his own jeep … etc. etc.

    Another great write-up.  Thanks. 

    btw, I was in Innsbruck, in ’05, and downtown, there was an Austrian goverment historical exposition there retelling the American occupation of that Sektor of Austria from ’45-’55 (and all the good the Americans did in their Sektor, while the Russians were taxing and pillaging their Sektor blind).  And what was the centerpiece in that exposition?  A sweet little Jeep like the one pictured above (maybe even one that you had seen in situ.) 

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Robert, I’m not really sure whose Jeeps I saw as a young child.  I was born in ’53, so my memory would have had to be particularly keen to remember Yanks in Jeeps. But there may have been some around, an its quite possible the Austrians were given some. But I do have very clear images of them being driven up the same road we always walked to get up into the mountains.
      +1 on you ad storyboard!

  • avatar
    riko

    This car is way too over restored. A 1945 Jeep with US Air Force markings? That service did not come into being until 1947. Nor have I ever seen a Jeep so clean.

    • 0 avatar
      kilroy01

      The marking are not for the US Air Force, but the US Army Air Force (USAAF).  The star with the red dot would mean it was used in 1942 before the marking changed to just the star.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    The Jeep cult is tied up with nostalgia for more heroic times. I asked my father that, and he admitted it. WWII was the adventure of a lifetime for a teen-aged boy..I’ll bet it was for most 20 somethings on both sides too. Jeep has stumbled onto a product that resonates on several emotional levels

  • avatar
    venator

    Herr Niedermeyer, may I take this opportunity to correct you on one point: the originators of the Jeep were called the American Bantam Car Company, and not Bantam Motors! As an aside, the designer went by the most Germanic name of Karl Probst.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      vanator, quite right, and I left out Probst’s name only because I didn’t want to get too caught up in historical minutia. But he is rightly the father of the Jeep,

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I response to OrkneyDullard‘s comment, I seem to remember hearing that Land Rover used aluminum body shells/panels which didn’t rust. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how/didn’t bother to make the steel frames resistant to rust. Also, I think there were rust issues where the aluminum and steel touched, such as around the edeges of the doors. Thus, the body outlasted the frame.  I do not seem to rmember similar complaints from Jeep owners.


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