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The “Autobiography of a Jeep” Is 10 Minutes Of Glory

The “Autobiography of a Jeep” Is 10 Minutes Of Glory

If the Willys MB could tell its own story…

In light of the impending debut of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL and Wrangler-based pickup truck – not to mention my recent time spent with the 2017 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock – the Jeep brand has consumed much of my recent time and writings. In the course of perusing Jeep history and year-specific factoids, I ran across this lovely documentary. As the name suggests, the film is narrated in first-person, allowing the Willy MB to tell its own story.

It might be a bit cheeky by today’s standards, but the 1943 documentary details how the original Willy MB came to be. As most know, it was the outbreak of World War II that spurred the U.S. Department of War to find a suitable troop transport that could serve a variety of roles. Some roles were quite dare-devilish, too, like floating in water by being wrapped in a canvas tarp and crossing deep valleys via a wire cable. Adaptations of the MB included a more dedicated amphibious model with a boat-like hull surrounding he body. The MB began mass production only eight months after the War Department’s open request for prototypes. To keep up with production requirements, Ford joined in with its near-exact replica of the Willys MB, the Ford GPW. Combined, a new Jeep rolled off the assembly line every two minutes at the height of the war. Of course, the video has plenty more tid-bits of information and shows tons of Jeeps in action.

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Kid Turns His Ratty Jeep CJ3A into Willys MB: Video

Kid Turns His Ratty Jeep CJ3A into Willys MB: Video

A little bit of talent, a paint booth, and elbow grease make this project happen

The Jeep brand got its start at the outbreak of WWII when the U.S. Government sought a small, go-anywhere utility vehicle that could effectively replace the horse for mass use by troops. Well, Willys Overland answered the call and the MB began rolling off assembly lines in 1941. And while more than 630,000 examples were built, relatively few original MBs survive today.

But thanks to one teenager, there’s one more MB floating around – or at lease a look-alike. He decided to restore his dilapidated post-war-built CJ3A into a replica wartime Willys. This 38-minute video shows highlights of the transformation process, including a healthy amount of off-road thrashing, both before and after the restoration. One thing is for sure – this kid understands the Willys were designed to handle abuse.

I’ll admit, the video is a bit on the dull side. But if you fancy yourself a Jeep guy, you’ll love watching the real-time and time-lapse sequences. You’ll also love seeing the Jeep disassembled into its various pieces, all while being reminded of just how simple these machines were designed to be.

And while this CJ turned MB might be a replica and hardly underwent a Concours-style restoration, the end result is no less impressive. From the white lettering across the hood and the hand tools strapped to the side to the canvas top and Jerry cans, this Jeep looks and performs like the real deal.

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2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute Concept

2016 Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute Concept

This one-off Jeep rolled off the assembly 75 years after the U.S. ordered the first Willys MB

July 15 is an important date in Jeep history. In fact, it was on this date in 1941 that the U.S. government awarded Willys-Overland Motor Company the contract to build the Willy MB. Now, 75 years later, Jeep is celebrating by building a one-off Wrangler configured to look like its grandfather. This modern take on the original will roll off the same assembly line as the MB (minus the modernization and robots, of course), making the occasion even more sentimental.

“We are creating this unique Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute concept vehicle in celebration of the brand’s legendary history, and to demonstrate that 75 years later, today’s iconic Jeep Wrangler is instantly recognizable and clearly connected to the original Willys MB,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “Since they were first produced in 1941, Jeep vehicles have been the authentic benchmark for off-road capability, having mastered more terrain, led more adventures and provided drivers more freedom than any other vehicle before or since.”

Manley is certainly right about the Jeep (and more specifically, the Wrangler) being the benchmark for off-road capability. Think about it – what over vehicle has remained so true to its original roots for more than 70 years? Not many. If fact, there are very little modifications needed to make this 2016 Wrangler look like a 1941 Willys MB. Let’s dive into the details below.

Update 07/18/2016: Jeep released a short video showing the Wrangler Salute Concept rolling off the assembly line. There are also interviews with Jeep executives and assembly line workers on the deep meaning this one-off Jeep carries.

Continue reading for the full review.

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Motor Week Examines The Then-New 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ

Motor Week Examines The Then-New 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ

The Jeep Wrangler TJ is considered by many to be the first Wrangler to reach mass appeal in a market beyond the rugged outdoorsmen. It debuted in 1997 with a far more comfortable interior and a more refined pair of powertrains than the previous Wrangler YJ. So what did journalists think of the now-classic TJ when it was new?

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Dirt Every Day Explores the History of the "Jeep Life"

Dirt Every Day Explores the History of the "Jeep Life"

The latest episode of Dirt Every Day dives deep into history, tracing it back to Mark Smith and his “Expedicion de las Americas,” a cross-continental expedition carried out in 1978 and 1979 by 13 men in six, nearly stock Jeep CJs. Smith’s obsession with Jeeps and his influence on Jeep culture didn’t end there.

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Dirt Every Day Explores the History of the "Jeep Life"

Dirt Every Day Explores the History of the "Jeep Life"

The latest episode of Dirt Every Day dives deep into history, tracing it back to Mark Smith and his “Expedicion de las Americas,” a cross-continental expedition carried out in 1978 and 1979 by 13 men in six, nearly stock Jeep CJs. Smith’s obsession with Jeeps and his influence on Jeep culture didn’t end there.

Smith is also the founder of Jeep Jamboree. He started the organization in 1953 as the first organized trip across the Rubicon trail. In fact, the Rubicon’s popularity centers on Smith’s involvement with the trail, which before the Jamboree, was not much more than an old Indian path.

Jeep corporate even consulted Smith on product development throughout the years. Smith’s organization, Mark A. Smith Off-Roading, Inc., or MASOR, even designed the off-road course at Chrysler’s proving grounds.

Though he was known for much, his transcontinental expedition has gone down in history as one of the most extraordinary overland trips. His goal was to travel the entire length of North and South America by land. Starting at the tip of South America, he and his team drove 21,000 miles north, finally ending at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

The epic journey even tackled the dreaded Darien Gap – an expansive jungle with dense brush, thick swamps, and no help for thousands of miles. Still, the team pushed through, finishing the expedition with only five flat tires and one broken axle.

So if you fancy calling yourself a Jeeper or avid off-roader, you’d better know Mark Smith and his legendary accomplishments. It’s partially thanks to him and his active participation in making the Jeep popular, we still have such iconic vehicle in production and enjoy such a wide array of SUVs and crossovers that have stemmed from it.

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2014 Jeep Wagoneer

2014 Jeep Wagoneer

The Jeep Wagoneer disappeared from existence following the 1991 model year, as the Grand Cherokee took over for it in the 1993 model year. This was the beginning of the softening of the Jeep brand, as even its once rugged Wrangler eventually morphed into more of an on-road vehicle capable of light off-roading through the 1990s and 2000s. According to a statement by Fiat – parent company of Chrysler and Jeep – CEO Sergio Marchionne, the Wagoneer will bow in shortly and sit on the same underpinnings as the current Durango.

The details are still very slim on this rebirth of the Wagoneer, but being it is going to ride on the same underpinnings as the Durango, we can make some pretty safe assumptions. We will use our knowledge of the current automotive world to give you the best idea possible of what to expect from this new Wagoneer. Unfortunately, all we have to go off of is the CEO’s words, so we will continuously update you as details come to the surface.

Click past the jump to read our full review and keep on the lookout for updates.

Image note: All images are of the 2012 Dodge Durango, not the Wagoneer.

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The Dodge Durango's Death will Bring About the Rebirth of the Jeep Wagoneer

The Dodge Durango’s Death will Bring About the Rebirth of the Jeep Wagoneer

The Dodge Durango has never really been one of the most popular SUVs in the market. Sometimes we automotive media even tend to forget it’s around. But the Durango certainly has its own group of enthusiasts that love them and buy a new one every few years, and rightfully so. The Durango has recently morphed into one of the better looking body-on-frame SUVs available, as well as one of the most utilitarian SUVs remaining on the market.

All of that aside, Dodge and parent company, Fiat, have decided that the Durango has run its course and it’s time for it to ride off into the sunset. There is no need to mourn its death, as its axing will bring about yet another cult classic that will don the same underpinnings of the outgoing Durango. This new model, according to an interview with Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, by Automobile Magazine, will be dubbed the Jeep Wagoneer.

Yup, after nearly two decades have passed since the Grand Cherokee replaced it; the Wagoneer name is again being uttered by the brass at Jeep. With the Durango reportedly going the way of the dodo bird in 2016, we assume that the Wagoneer will arrive sometime in the 2015 model year to give it some time to catch on before cutting the Durango altogether.

In the same interview, Marchionne also let us know that Dodge will axe the Avenger for the second time, in 2014. This time around, the Avenger lasted only five model years, one year less than its original version. We were shocked to even see it return, so seeing it disappear is no surprise at all, despite that it was far less ugly than its original rendition.

As soon as we can get a hold of some info on the upcoming Wagoneer, we will update you further.

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