The Birth of the Jeep Name | Jeep Canada

THE BIRTH OF THE JEEP NAME: AN INCREDIBLE COMBINATION OF CIRCUMSTANCES

2021-02-12
In June 1940, when war raged in Europe and Nazi Germany was preparing to attack France, the American army, which was not yet at war (the events of Pearl Harbor wouldn’t take place until December 1941), informed automakers that it was looking for a "light reconnaissance vehicle" to replace the motorcycle and modified Ford Model Ts it was using at the time. The military invited 135 manufacturers to bid on production and provided them with a long list of criteria that the submitted models had to meet.
The front grille of a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
For example, the vehicle had to have a payload capacity of 600 pounds, a wheelbase of less than 75 inches, a height of less than 36 inches, a rectangular format, a two-speed transfer case, a folding windshield, four-wheel traction, three bucket seats, and they couldn’t weigh more than 1,300 pounds.
At first, two companies answered the call: Willys-Overland and American Bantam. They were then joined by Ford and it is between these three automakers that the battle took place.
Each company produced prototypes in record time. Bantam’s chief engineer took just 49 days to complete a first model.
Willys-Overland's vice president of engineering, Delmar G. Roos, designed the Willys Quad. Each firm delivered their prototype to the military in the summer of 1940 and received approval to build 70 vehicles for further testing.
A 2021 Jeep Wrangler side badge
The Army took possession of the completed models in November 1940. Each of the three models exceeded the prescribed weight limit and the Army subsequently removed the unrealistic criteria.

Willys MA/MB

Through modifications and improvements, the Willys Quad became the MA and then the MB. But the military, and the whole world, came to know it as the Jeep. There are many theories about the origin of the name Jeep.
The most recognized says the name comes from the letters "GP", the military abbreviation for "General Purpose". However, some claim that the vehicle was named after a popular character named "Eugene The Jeep" from the Popeye comics. Whatever its origin, the name has gone down in legend and for some time even served to define any vehicle capable of venturing off the beaten track.
Willys registered the name "Jeep" after the war and had a goal of making it an all-terrain utility vehicle for farm work. One of Willys’s slogans at the time was "The sun never sets on the mighty Jeep." Today, the Willys name lives on with Jeep paying tribute to the brand’s beginnings through numerous Willys editions of its models.
The front grille of a 2021 Jeep Wrangler
Jeep® is a complex story that began in the most inhospitable environments and the harshest conditions. Today, Jeep represents the precise balance between capability and comfort, versatility and pleasure.

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