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Manufacturers / U.S.A. / Jeep


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Jeep vehicles


1960


Mutt
Jeep Mutt M151  (1960)

The origin of the name "Jeep" is somewhat of a mystery. Popular notion has it that the vehicle designation "GP" (for "General Purpose") was phonetically slurred in pronunciation, eventually becoming "Jeep." R. Lee Ermey, on his television series Mail Call, has stated that the vehicle was designed for specific duties and was never referred to as "General Purpose," and that the name may have been derived from Ford's nomenclature referring to the vehicle as GP (G for government-use, and P to designate its wheelbase size). However, many (including Ermey) claim that the more likely origin is a reference to a character from the Thimble Theater (Popeye) comic strip known as Eugene the Jeep. The character could walk through walls and ceilings, climb trees, fly, and just about go anywhere it wanted, and it is thought that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicle's versatility that they informally named it after the character.

The first prototype was built for the Department of the Army by American Bantam, followed by two other prototypes produced by Ford and Willys-Overland. Quantities of each of the three models were then extensively field tested with the Willys prototype being chosen for its greater durability and engine power. The model MB military Jeep was first built in quantity by Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. Due to their inability to produce the vast number of vehicles required, the U.S. government also allowed jeeps to be built by Ford Motor Company and designated GPW. Combined production by Willys and Ford during World War II was more than 600,000.

The Jeep was widely copied in countries other than the United States, one version being made in France by Hotchkiss and in The Netherlands by Nekaf. There were several different versions created such as a railway Jeep and an amphibious jeep. As part of the war effort, Jeeps were supplied to the Soviet Red Army during World War II.

Gladiator
Jeep Gladiator  concept (1962)

In U.S. military use, the Jeep has largely been supplanted by the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle ("Hum-Vee").



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