Things are only getting started.
Exactly one day and 80 years ago, on July 15, 1941, the Willys-Overland Company signed a contract with the US War Department to build the first General Purpose vehicle, aka the first Jeep. To celebrate eight decades of off-roading and adventures, Jeep gathered a group of 100 enthusiasts from different parts of the globe and asked them to come up with the most memorable moments in the brand's history. There were simply too many occasions for a single press release, so Jeep boiled the list down to the following 12 moments:
2. The reborn Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Not only are these big SUVs capable of going just about anywhere, but they're the most luxurious Jeeps ever. It's a new segment for the brand.
3. Models like the Renegade and Gladiator have allowed Jeep to expand globally. New markets include India, China, Brazil, and Europe. India and China even have their own locally-built models.
4. In 1999, the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive 4x4 systems were introduced. These were among the most advanced off-road systems of the day and they've remained with the brand ever since (though they receive regular updates).
5. At the 1992 Detroit Auto Show, the first-ever Jeep Grand Cherokee shattered through the building's window as part of its introduction. None other than Bob Lutz, then President of Chrysler, was behind the wheel.
6. The first-gen Wrangler debuted in 1986, replacing the CJ-7. At the time, the Wrangler was considered to have more creature comforts than its predecessor, though it was still very bare-bones.
7. In 1984, the Cherokee XJ arrived and changed the SUV world forever. Fitted with a shift-on-the-fly 4WD, the unibody Cherokee proved it had the right stuff.
8. The Wagoneer is considered the original premium SUV when it came in 1963. It combined off-road capabilities, durability, and luxury in a single package.
9. It was in 1953 when 155 Jeep fans gathered at the Georgetown Divide in California for the first-ever Jeep Jamboree. Events are now held across the country, though the most popular remains the Rubicon Trail.
10. Jeep claims it launched the first SUV in 1946, the Willys Wagon, but it wasn't until 1949 when 4WD was added. The vehicle was a game-changer and it remained in production for 20 years.
11. Following the end of WWII, returning GIs missed their GPs and Willys sensed an opportunity. The CJ-2A debuted in 1945 as the world's first civilian light-duty 4x4 that produced for the masses.
12. In 1941, the legend was born. The US government needed a quarter-ton military vehicle to replace the horse. The result was over 350,000 Jeep MBs built by 1945. And the rest is history.
"We're celebrating our 80th anniversary by continuing to move upward and forward," said Christian Meunier, Jeep brand CEO. "We are committed to make Jeep the greenest and most exciting SUV brand. The electrification of the Jeep lineup will allow commuters to travel solely on electric power, delivering an efficient and fun on-road experience and offering an ability to enjoy even more off-road capability in nearly complete silence."