In February 1941, Washington Daily News journalist Kathryn Hillyer covered a military publicity event at the U.S. Capitol building. The military claimed to have a vehicle that was as fast as a personal car but as strong as a heavy-duty, general-purpose truck.
The journalists were skeptical until they were taken out on test drives. They spent the afternoon riding around DC’s Rock Creek Park with Irving Housman driving. They went up hills, forded streams, and zipped along unpaved roads. By the end of the test drives, skepticism had given way to amazement.
Back at the Capitol building, Housman drove the vehicle slowly up the steps and parked it on the top landing. Hillyer climbed out and asked what kind of vehicle was it that they had been riding in? Housman replied, “It’s a Jeep.” On February 19, 1941, Hillyer’s article was published nationally, introducing the public to a new kind of four-wheeled vehicle like nothing ever seen before.
On July 15, 1941, Willys-Overland was given the U.S. government contract to build the vehicle. They named it the Willys MB, but it was known around the world as the “Jeep.”
Jeep has built a commemorative, one-of-a-kind Wrangler 75th Salute concept vehicle to mark the 75th anniversary of the Willys MB. “We’ve created this unique 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 Jeep brand CEO Mike Manley.
“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.”
The Wrangler 75th Salute is a modern version of the Willys MB. It is based on the current two-door Wrangler JK Sport. It combines functionality with old-school looks. There are no B-pillars or doors. It is painted in the olive drab color scheme first used in the military 75 years ago.
The Wrangler 75th Salute has 16-inch steel wheels with 32-inch military non-directional tires. It also has hood latches, a rear-mounted spare tire, steel front and rear bumpers with tow hooks, and low back canvas seats – all similar to the original Jeeps.
The concept vehicle has custom wood hood blocks and side mirrors. It also boasts bronze commemorative fender badges. For power, it will have a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with a six-speed manual transmission.
It was built on July 15th on the same assembly line that has built Wranglers in Toledo, Ohio for decades.
This will be a one-off production. Hopefully, fans will get to see it alongside other Jeep concepts at Jeep events in the future.
We, of course, hope they will build more!