The US automaker has celebrated on July 15 a very important milestone in the brand’s history – 75 years since the Willys company was given the contract to deliver vehicles to the US military.
It was back in 1941 and the military Jeep not only became a legend on the battlefield, but also went down through history in its later, civilian versions. Now Jeep is celebrating the original military version through the Wrangler 75th Salute concept – an homage to the Willys MB, soon to be known universally as the Jeep. We all know the legend – for example the design specifications had been put out to tender just a year prior to the contract award. Back through time in the present, Jeep marks the 75th anniversary with the prototype Wrangler 75th Salute. It has been derived from the ongoing Wrangler Sport, with a powertrain consisting of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and a six-speed manual transmission.
The metamorphosis into its great-great-great grandfather included the removal of the doors and B-pillar, as well as the addition of steel bumpers with tow hooks. The interior also pays homage to the Spartan appearance of the original via low-back canvas seats, while other elements are also historically accurate – exterior hood latches, rear mounted spare tire, a coat of military-spec olive drab paint and bronze fender badges for finishing touches. Modern amenities include the 16-inch steel wheels with 32-inch military off-road tires. We can be sure the Wrangler 75th Salute will exceed the original’s specifications if ever put in production – the latter had to be a four-wheel-drive vehicle with two-speed transfer case. Just Willys-Overland, American Bantam, and Ford took the challenge off the 135 manufacturers that were sent the query – Willys won but the other two also produced the vehicles throughout the war effort.