If you have been living in a cave you may not know that this year is the 75th anniversary since the first Jeep rolled off a production line, the giveaway should have been the ‘Since 1941’ logo’s plastered all over the current and rather excellent Jeep Renegade.
Amongst many slightly tedious special editions (75th Renegade and Cherokee) which are essentially standard cars with a little more kit and some special paint and badges, Jeep has finally decided to make a real, working moving tribute, to the one car that got them started in the car production industry.
The Willys MB ‘Jeep’ was a four-wheel drive military-only vehicle produced from 1941 to 1945 solely for use by the U.S. Army, the Willys was then re-engineered into the Jeep CJ-1 for civilian use as a prototype only in 1944 at the end of World War II. Whilst no actual CJ-1’s survived to this day and documentation is scarce on the subject this was the first marker for Jeep building a civilian car.
In 1945 the Willys-Overland CJ-2A followed and stayed in production for a mere four years, its primary purpose was intended as farming and ranching, with a total of 214,000 cars built this would mark Jeep’s first foray into selling vehicles to civilians.
Now finally Jeep have given us a Willys inspired one off to properly celebrate that 75th birthday, called the ‘Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute’ it has been designed as a clear tribute to the original Willys MB which gave the company its first production vehicle, the 75th Salute is based on the current model 2-door Wrangler, gone are the doors and B-pillars just likes its older distant sibling, added are 16-inch steel wheels with 32-inch military specification tyres, the Wrangler has also had its bumpers stripped down to plain steel, the entire truck is finished in standard U.S. Army spec matte green. The 75th Salute is powered by Pentastar 3.6 litre v-6 motor via oddly enough a six-speed manual gearbox.
So there you have it, a super cool hark back to the very origins of Jeep with a tribute (that you cannot buy!) to the very vehicle that started them on the path to where they are today as a car-maker.
Anyone with a Jeep Wrangler who is considering such a conversion should avoid it at all costs unless they want a very flobbery Wrangler.