How The Willys Jeep Went From 60-HP Weakling To American Icon Overnight

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With the 2018 Wrangler and Scrambler pickup on the horizon, Jeep's future has never looked so bright. Here's how that began.

Let's be honest here for a second. The Land Rover may be known as vehicle that conquered the world and subsequently became "the first car that was seen by half of the world's population," but the Willys Jeep might just be the more famous of the two, partially because there's hardly an off-road design that doesn't at least pay some homage to the original Jeep. Nowadays when we think about a seven-slat grille built to tackle the Rubicon, we think of the Wrangler. But this wasn't always the case.

Take a trip back to the 1940s and you'll probably hear the acronym "BRC" in association with the words "bad terrain." The ultra simplistic Bantam Reconnaissance Car, built by hand in only 49 days for the US military to use during World War II, ultimately gave way to the first Willys that inspired vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser.

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After World War II, the design soon ballooned into a sales phenomenon that swept the world and became one of the moneymaking reasons that Fiat Chrysler can remain afloat even when losing money and sales in roughly every other segment. And though it changed names and forms as the years went on, the new 2018 Wrangler and the upcoming Scrambler pickup truck should do wonders to pad FCA's pockets with more life-sustaining cash. By seeing what we now know as the Wrangler go through its various stages of growth (which did not include an awkward bout of puberty we might add), you can learn respect for this American success story.

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