Uh, yeah, we'd so drive this.
75 years. That’s a long time for a car in any segment to be in production. Although it’s been redesigned several times through the decades, the Jeep Wrangler, originally branded as the Willys, has remained true to its original off-road self. Look at today’s Wrangler and the 1941 Willys and you’ll understand. The more things change the more they stay the same. To commemorate 75 years of this off-road icon, Jeep has revealed the Wrangler 75th Salute concept.
Assembled on, appropriately enough, the 75th anniversary of when Willys-Overland Motor Co. was awarded the US government contract to build the first Willys MB. Assembled in Toledo, Ohio, this concept is based on the current Wrangler Sport, meaning it’s powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Other cool features include 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in 32-inch military non-directional tires, hood latches, a rear-mounted spare tire, steel front and rear bumpers with tow hooks and low back canvas seats, all of which echo the original military Jeep vehicles. Heck, there’s even custom wood hood blocks and side mirrors, as well as bronze commemorative fender badges.
The Jeep brand’s history actually began back in July 1940 when the US military told automakers it was looking for a "light reconnaissance vehicle" that would replace its motorcycles and modified Ford Model-Ts. Design proposal invites were sent to 135 manufacturers. Vehicle requirements included a 600-lb load capacity, wheelbase less than 75 inches, height less than 36 inches, smooth-running engine from 3 to 50 miles per hour, rectangular-shaped body, four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case, fold-down windshield, three bucket seats, blackout and driving lights and a gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs. Three companies, including Ford, sent proposals and built prototypes.
The decision was made to increase weight to a minimum of 1,500 lbs because the initial target wasn’t possible. After grueling testing, the Willys Overland won the lucrative government contract and the rest is history.