Jeep is an automobile marque of DaimlerChrysler. The term derives from, and is often associated with, an automobile, originally a military vehicle built for the United States Army during World War II, and later produced in a line of consumer models. Although not Jeep-brand vehicles, the term is sometimes used to refer generically to farm or family vehicles such as the Land Rover, International Harvester Scout , Isuzu Trooper, Ford Bronco, and Chevrolet Blazer. This category of vehicles was the root of the SUV era in the 1980s.
A road that is only suitable for off-road vehicles is often called a jeep trail. The most famous is perhaps Black Bear Road, made famous in the song of the same name by C.W. McCall.
The origin of the term "jeep" is somewhat of a mystery. Popular notion has it that the vehicle designation "GP" (for "General Purpose") was phonetically slurred in pronunciation, eventually becoming "jeep." R. Lee Ermey, on his television series Mail Call, has stated that the vehicle was designed for specific duties and was never referred to as "General Purpose," and that the name may have been derived from Ford's nomenclature referring to the vehicle as GP (G for government-use, and P to designate its wheelbase size). However, many (including Ermey) claim that the more likely origin is a reference to a character from Popeye cartoons known as Eugene the Jeep. The character could walk through walls and ceilings, climb trees, fly, and just about go anywhere it wanted, and it is thought that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicle's versatility that they informally named it after the character.
The original prototypes were built for the Department of the Army by American Bantam. The model MB military Jeep was first built in quantity by Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. Due to their inability to produce the vast number of vehicles required, the U.S. government also allowed jeeps to be built by Ford Motor Company and designated GPW. Combined production by Willys and Ford during World War II was more than 500,000.
The Jeep was widely copied in countries other than the United States, one version being made in France by Hotchkiss. There were several different versions created such as a railway Jeep and an amphibious jeep. As part of the war effort, Jeeps were supplied to the Soviet Red Army during World War II.
In U.S. military use, the jeep has largely been supplanted by the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle ("Hum-Vee").
The Jeep marque
DaimlerChrysler, the most recent successor company to Willys, holds trademark status on the word "Jeep" and the distinctive 7-bar front grille design. It is said that the number of people worldwide who can recognize the distinctive Jeep grille is second only to the number who can recognize Mickey Mouse and that the Jeep brand is the most famous brand known worldwide other than Coke.
The marque has gone through many owners, starting in 1945 with Willys, which produced the first Civilian Jeep (CJ). Willys was sold to Kaiser in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. American Motors bought the company in 1970. Chrysler bought AMC in 1987, shortly after the Jeep CJ was replaced with the AMC designed Jeep Wrangler. Finally, Chrysler was merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler.
Jeep vehicles are also produced in Beijing, China, by Beijing Jeep Corporation, Ltd. (BJC), a joint venture between Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation, DaimlerChrysler Corporation and DaimlerChrysler China Invest Corporation, established on January 15, 1984.
Jeeps have "model designations" in addition to their common names. Nearly every civilian Jeep has a 'xJ' designation, though not all are as well-known as the classic CJ.
Historical Jeep models:
Jeep currently produces three models:
- Jeep Wrangler - small successor to the Jeep CJ (called TJ in Canada)
- YJ - The original Wrangler
- TJ - The current Wrangler
- TK - The upcoming version of the Wrangler, to be released as a 2007 model.
- TKL - The long wheelbase, 4-door version of the 2007 Wrangler TK.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee - large family-oriented SUV
- ZJ - The "old" Grand Cherokee, '93-'98
- WJ - The "newer" Grand Cherokee, '99-'04
- WK - The newest Grand Cherokee, '05-present ("WK" is the designator for the new Grand Cherokee, it is one of the few non-J-designated Jeeps).
- Jeep Liberty - (KJ) A small SUV (called Cherokee outside North America)