Jeep is turning 75 — here's the history of the vehicle that helped win World War II

A look back at the past 75 years

The vehicles called
This year, for the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the war-winning Willys MB jeep, today's Jeep will be showering us with a good many ads involving a rather streamlined evolution from that fabled vehicle to their latest range of models.

But let's be clear here: the Jeep Wrangler is not a modern-day Willy's Jeep.

It's more of a car inspired by an interpretation of a descendant of a civilian version of a Willy's MB.

But that's close enough to allow for some heavy marketing from Jeep.

Former President and General Dwight Eisenhower once said that “The Jeep, the Dakota, and the Landing Craft were the three tools that won the war.” And to have your car brand associated with the free world's victory on such an historic scale is a wonderful thing. So maybe we can let them have this one, and take a look back at the past 75 years of vehicles called "Jeeps."

The 2016 Jeep 75th anniversary lineup. Jeep is definitely a company with a certain personality.

The 75th anniversary editions will heavily tout a relationship with the Willys MB.

We must start, of course, with the Wrangler: Jeep's flagship model. This is the "Willys Wheeler" edition. Yes, it does come with doors, but owners who never once remove them can be accused of missing the point.

Jeep does a whole lot of editions of the Wrangler. This year's lineup includes the Sport, Sport S, Willys Wheeler, Black Bear, Freedom Edition, Sahara, Rubicon, 75th Anniversary, Back Country, and Rubicon Hard Rock.

And then there's the Wrangler Unlimited, which is the four-door version. It also comes with a whole pile of variations.

The newest model, the Renegade, is the first Jeep to be made outside of the US. It's based upon a Fiat 500L and built in Italy like all good little Fiats should be ...

... and it takes over the Jeep Liberty's role as the company's entry-level model. And at a base price of $17,595, the Liberty is still one of the most affordable SUVs around.

The Jeep Cherokee is a well-equipped and much-needed update from its previous generation.

Here's the Grand Cherokee — it's bigger and more luxurious than the Cherokee ...

... and SRT will spice up the Grand Cherokee with a 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter V8, along with some handling tweaks to improve sportiness.

Here is the Compass, which is an SUV that's a bit smaller than the Cherokees.

Jeep also loves to tease very cool concepts, like this Wrangler Unlimited Red Rock from the 2015 SEMA show.

And this is the Jeep Gladiator pickup concept. Which apparently the company is making.

Now let's go back to where it all started. That's General Eisenhower riding in a Jeep — a vehicle he credits with playing a big part in the Allies' victory.

Between the Willys MB and the Ford GPW the total number of jeeps produced was a staggering 637,385.

It was actually Ford, not Willys, that came up with the iconic slatted grille.

The British even made one fly.

... though they really didn't need to bother because it already did.

As soon as the war ended, Willys Overland Motors began producing a civilian version of the Jeep called the CJ.

... and they also made a station wagon.

Which is — despite almost everything about it — somehow a very good looking thing.

This is a Willys Jeep pickup ...

... which is not nearly as cool as this FC dump truck.

Whitewalls? A necessity on this 1948 Jeepster.

Willys merged with Kaiser in 1953 to become Kaiser-Jeep, which lasted until ...

... 1970, when the American Motors Corporation bought the Jeep name and kept on going with their own CJ ...

... and the majestic AMC Jeep Wagoneer, which with very few mechanical changes was produced for almost 30 years.

I grew up in one of these. It broke down in a field. My mom was unhappy.

This is an original Jeep Cherokee. You can see where the newest one got its 'bent' slats on the grille.

The next generation Cherokee came in 1984, and stayed with us for an impressive two decades.

Chrysler did not actually acquire the AMC (and the Jeep brand with it) until 1987, when it scrapped the last "real" Jeep, the CJ-7, and created the Wrangler.

... along with a bunch of new models.

To make this whole lineage thing even more muddled, Chrysler is now part of Fiat, but then again ...

... it wouldn't be the first time a Jeep has been to Italy.


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