The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Jeep SUV

1940

Early Jeep

An early military-issue Jeep     Photo: Courtesy of Chrysler

In July 1940 the United States Army invited 135 car manufacturers to bid on building a "light reconnaissance vehicle" to replace the Army's motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T. Willys-Overland, American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company, and Ford Motor Company each won a portion of the lucrative government contract to create a four-wheel drive vehicle capable of uneven off-road driving. With modifications and improvements, Bantam’s Willys Quad was eventually known as the Jeep. The name either came from the slurring of the letters "GP," the military abbreviation for "General Purpose," or from "Eugene the Jeep," a Popeye cartoon character.

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