Jeep is a legendary name, one that envelops the entire off-road industry under a single brand. It’s a name that brings together the robustness of its military origins with that aristocratic and slightly snobbish wealth of those who love to flaunt their power using a car with capabilities far beyond their real needs. All this without anyone (or almost) knowing that Jeep is actually an acronym for Just Enough Economic Parts. A fantastically relevant principle for the war which lead to an extraordinary order for Willys who invented it and also Ford who helped put it into production.
When the war ended, the vehicle that became a symbol of victory as much as the American flag was never going to quietly disappear. And indeed it never did. It transformed into the CJ – Civilian Jeep – and was produced for four decades until, in total respect for what was by now a consolidated image, the Wrangler was introduced. The small Jeep could not hold off the American giants: the company which had become Kaiser Jeep and had launched the car that inspired today’s SUVs, the Wagoneer, was eventually acquired by American Motors.
Despite the charm of the magnificent country models with their wooden finishes, and the success of the Wrangler and Wagoneer models, the company needed a strong partner. Unexpectedly, Europe made a move and Renault bought America Motors.
After Renault, Chrysler, which, from 1998 to 2007 became Daimler Chrysler, took on the gauntlet of re-americanizing the brand. Daimler gave the Grand Cherokee its engine and expanded the range: the Jeep legend was intact and the growth of the off-road and SUV market played an important role.
But the Jeep legend has to be American, and so Chrysler put together a consolidation plan so fragile it soon required yet another change of ownership. That was when the Cerberus investment fund and then FCA entered, which now runs the company extremely successfully.
Jeep: a very bumpy road, quite appropriate for the small vehicle created to overcome every obstacle.
A beautiful item for those who love historical models and discovering all they have to offer. Business and dreams do indeed occasionally meet.