In the early 1940s when America’s involvement in World War II became inevitable, the army needed a lightweight all-terrain vehicle – thus, the first Jeep was born. The original prototypical vehicle was produced by Willys-Overland and was initially titled Willys-Overland MB. During its time in the army, this Jeep predecessor became known as the vehicle that could go anywhere and do anything, and over time the “Jeep” nickname was eventually trademarked by Willys-Overland and marketed to civilians as a trustworthy multipurpose vehicle. The first civilian Jeep, produced in 1945, was advertised as a car for farmers and construction workers.
With the invention of four-wheel drive in 1949, the Jeep quickly became appealing to the public throughout the next decade as consumers became more and more interested in the idea of off-roading adventures. The vehicle was continuously tested and improved in its off-road capabilities, and during this time Jeeps gained their reputation as recreational, outdoorsy vehicles. The car’s popularity swelled. By the 60s, the Jeep was being produced and sold in over 150 countries.
After going through several ownership changes – Willys-Overland to Kaiser-Frazier to American Motor Corporation – the Jeep was eventually absorbed into Chrysler along with all of AMC’s assets in 1987. Since then, Jeep is still to this day recognized as a household name due to its beginnings as a reconnaissance vehicle and its reputation as an off-roading recreational car.