The Iconic Jeep Wrangler Only Gets Better With Age

Just like fine wine, the Jeep Wrangler just keeps getting better and better with age. Auto reviewers and car enthusiasts agree that the all-new 2012 Jeep Wrangler will continue to not only get better, but live on for years.

In order to celebrate, I thought I’d share a bit of Jeep history with you:

What’s In A Name?

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The origin of the name “Jeep” has many interesting theories. Ford named it a general-purpose vehicle, or ‘GP’ for short. When slurred together that sounded like “Jeep.” Another theory suggested the Jeep was named after a cartoon creature that was quick, clever, and could do anything, ‘Eugene the Jeep’ from Popeye The Sailor. Willys made the word `Jeep’ its trademark after World War II, much to the dismay of Bantam. Bantam felt that since they invented the first Jeep prototype that they should have the trademark.

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During WWII Jeeps were coming out of the Willys and Ford Plants at a rate of one jeep per one-and-a-half minutes and by the end of the war, over 700,000 had been built. The Americans had so many Jeeps that some German soldiers believed each America GI got his own Jeep as standard issue. In France, three American soldiers walked up to a guard post and told the sentry that they were lost. The Frenchman immediately told them to surrender and found that they were German soldiers in disguise. When he was asked how he knew, he replied that it was because Americans always travel in Jeeps.

By the end of the war, the Jeep name was established not only in the United States but in the places it had fought: Germany, Italy and North Africa.

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Marilyn Monroe

Jeep was often referred to as ‘the wartime limousine.’ The Jeep transported everyone from presidents and British Royalty to Privates and Celebrities and even newlyweds.

Jeep Success

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Jeep: A GI's best friend

The Jeep became a sign, the emblem, the alter ego of the American fighting machine and soldiers often grew attached to their Jeeps. Perhaps the Jeep is best summed up in the words of famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle, “It’s as faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule and as agile as a goat.” – No wonder the GIs loved it.

Jeeps for ‘Civvies’

As early as 1942, long before the war in Europe or the Pacific came to an end, Willys-Overland recognized that the popular Jeep vehicles could serve the civilian market as well. The phrase “the Jeep in Civvies” often appeared in Willys-Overland magazine and newspaper ads published on the home front during and just after World War II.

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The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A, was produced in 1945. Advertisements proclaimed it to be “A Powerhouse on Wheels,” again selling it as a work vehicle for farmers and construction workers. It came with a tailgate, side-mounted spare, larger headlamps, an external fuel cap and many more items that its military predecessors did not include.

The Jeep CJ-5 had the longest run of any production Jeep vehicle stretching from 1954 to 1984.

In 1970, after two decades of growth and international expansion, Kaiser Jeep was bought by American Motors Corporation. Their first move was to split civilian and military vehicle production, and this proved to be the right move as 4WD vehicles became more popular than ever in the civilian market. By 1978, total Jeep vehicle production was up to 600 vehicles a day, over three times what it had been at the start of the decade.

From the 1970s – 1990s, the Jeep Cherokee was the star of the line-up. In February 1974, the Jeep® Cherokee was the 1st vehicle to win Four Wheeler magazine’s Achievement Award  (known today as the Four Wheeler of the Year award.) The all-new XJ series finally made its well-received debut in 1984, when it scored an unprecedented sweep of the “4×4 of the Year” awards by three primary off-road magazines.

In 1999, the new Grand Cherokee debuted as “The Most Capable Sport Utility Ever” and swept the major 4×4 award competitions.

Today, all of Jeep’s models have found a place in the spotlight.  The 2011 Jeep Patriot and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee have both won the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s ‘Top Safety Picks’ for 2011. Both the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass have earned the ‘Top 10 Fuel Efficiency Award’, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the most awarded SUV of all time, and the list goes on.

The Ultimate Freedom Machine

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Jeep Wrangler Sahara and Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

But, we must admit, the Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate, all-American 4×4 freedom machine – the Jeep® brand’s modern-day descendant of the original, heroic Willys MB. Jeep owners are not just drivers of their vehicles – they are lovers – just as the men who fought so many years ago loved their Jeeps.  There’s something about a Jeep that brings you in and becomes a part of you.  Listen to what a few Jeep owners have to say:

“I wanted to succeed where others failed. I wanted a Wrangler since I was about 15. My uncle had a few CJ’s and that gave me the itch, however I grew up poor – never could get one. I got one at 28 years old, and I refuse to drive anything else. To us a Wrangler is a way of life, an escape from the pavement limiting reality. It sets us apart.”
Got my jeep as a weekend thing. Wanted something fun to do with my wife.  Now I have a little boy and this is all he wants to do. He plays with his x-men and when we roll he wants to cruise the jeep. Have you ever noticed that when you’re driving down the road or street and you have your doors and top off people tend to turn their heads and smile? I get smiles and waves from 3 year olds all the way to 80 year olds. Everyone loves a jeep no matter the age. Now i drive my jeep everyday and its a 2nd vehicle for me. I look for any chance to drive it!

The iconic Jeep® brand is recognized the world over — forever tied to freedom, capability and adventure. Every Jeep vehicle has a unique story to tell, with a rich heritage that links back to the original Willys MA.

Jeep owners have long known that Go Anywhere, Do Anything® is a way of life — not just a campaign slogan.

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Come explore the freedom, the adventure, and the loyalty of a Jeep.

It will be the finest vintage you’ve ever tasted.

Visit us at: Safford Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Fredericksburg

5202 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA

or on the web:  Safford Jeep