Jeep Celebrates its Heritage With Willys Edition Wrangler

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The Jeep was originally built for military use and gained a reputation on the battlefields of World War II. After the war was over the civilian CJ was made available to the public. So to pay tribute to the old time beauty Jeep has created a limited 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition that will debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is inspired by early Willys CJ (Civilian Jeep) models with exclusive styling and upgraded off-road goodies. Starting with a Wrangler Sport, these upgrades include a Dana 44 rear axle with limited-slip differential and 3.73 gears, along with meaty BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain tires mounted to the Willys Wheeler’s black 17-inch wheels. For more of a classic Jeep look, this model adds a gloss black grille, “Willys” hood stickers and rock rails to protect the side sills. Jeep is also tossing in a D-ring, tow strap and gloves that are all kept in a special carrying bag.

When it goes on sale early next year, the two-door Willys Wheeler Edition will start at $26,790 and the Unlimited four-door models at $30,590. That pricing reflects a premium of $3400 for either version, but there is quite a bit that comes with the package.

1943 Willys MB Celebrates its 70th Birthday

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After being sent to support the US Army in Sicily in 1943 the MB was finally returned home to Toledo, Ohio, its origninal production site.

Nearly seven decades in Italy, current owner Vittorio Argento, an Italian radio jornalist and history enthusiast, brought the Willys MB back for its 70th birthday.

Watch the video below.

Rick Pewe Cross Country GPW Update

It’s been a while since our last update on Rick Péwé and his venture across America in his 1943 GPW, so we’ll just pick back up where we left off! Our last post left off with Rick en route to Butler, PA to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, he arrived just in time and we were there to greet him on his arrival and caught up on some of his travel stories.

After leaving Butler, Rick headed north to Nova Scotia, Canada. Rick stopped by Broken Road 4WD in New Hampshire for a hefty overhaul of Omix-ADA parts to make sure the GPW could continue the trip. Rick got a new front spring, adjusted his valves, changes the oil pan, and much more. Andy from Broken Road decided to join Rick on a leg of his trip, it’s always good to have a co-pilot.

Rick’s trip hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing, but being the resourceful and knowledgeable guy that he is, and with the parts and services provided by us and shops along the way, he has been able to continue his travels successfully. Make sure to like the Rugged Ridge facebook page for more updates!

Here’s some more photos from his trip.

Across America in a jeep GPW

Rick Péwé, Editor-In-Chief at Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, has embarked on a journey across America in his 1943 Ford GPW. He started on the west coast, and is driving all the way to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, PA. Rick is a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and has been a Jeeper since the first flat fender GPW he purchased when he was 15 years old (which he still owns).

Rick’s first stop along the way was the 60th Annual Jeepers Jamboree at the Rubicon Springs Trail. Rick participated in the trail rides in his GPW, and despite a couple of small issues here and there, this trusty old jeep lasted the entire event. To support Rick on his cross-country journey, we sent him tons of OMIX hard parts and replacement parts to keep the GPW going.

After the Jeepers Jamboree event, Rick hit the road toward Butler, PA to attend the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. He’s taking US highway 50 most of the time, and has been updating periodically with some great photos and stories. We will also be out at the festival, so if you’re there swing by to say hello, check out our new products, and see this GPW for yourself! For more photos and updates from Rick’s adventure, make sure to like Peterson’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine’s Facebook page!

Photos courtesy of Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine.

Across America in a jeep GPW

Rick Péwé, Editor-In-Chief at Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road, has embarked on a journey across America in his 1943 Ford GPW. He started on the west coast, and is driving all the way to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, PA. Rick is a member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and has been a Jeeper since the first flat fender GPW he purchased when he was 15 years old (which he still owns).

Rick’s first stop along the way was the 60th Annual Jeepers Jamboree at the Rubicon Springs Trail. Rick participated in the trail rides in his GPW, and despite a couple of small issues here and there, this trusty old jeep lasted the entire event. To support Rick on his cross-country journey, we sent him tons of OMIX hard parts and replacement parts to keep the GPW going.

After the Jeepers Jamboree event, Rick hit the road toward Butler, PA to attend the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. He’s taking US highway 50 most of the time, and has been updating periodically with some great photos and stories. We will also be out at the festival, so if you’re there swing by to say hello, check out our new products, and see this GPW for yourself! For more photos and updates from Rick’s adventure, make sure to like Peterson’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine’s Facebook page!

History of the Jeep (part 1) : Willys MB

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In June 1940, the U.S. military informed automakers that it was looking for a “light reconnaissance vehicle” to replace the Army’s motorcycle and modified Ford Model-T vehicles. The Army invited 135 manufacturers to bid on production and developed a lengthy specification list for the vehicle, including the following:

  • 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
  • two-speed transfer case with
  • four-wheel drive fold-down windshield
  • three bucket seats
  • blackout and driving lights
  • gross vehicle weight below 1,300 lbs.

At first, Willys-Overland and American Bantam Car Manufacturing Company were the only two companies answering the call. Soon, however, Ford Motor Company entered the picture, and competition began among the three over which company would receive the lucrative government contract.

Each company produced prototypes for testing in record time. Bantam’s chief engineer, along with a team of Bantam executives, worked out a design, and the company built its field car within 49 days.

Willys-Overland Vice President of Engineering Delmar G. Roos designed the Willys Quad. Ford developed its Model GP (General Purpose), known as the Pygmy, which was powered by an adapted Ford/Ferguson tractor engine. Each company delivered its prototype to the Army in the summer of 1940 and received approval to build 70 sample vehicles.

The Army took possession of these vehicles in November 1940 at Camp Holabird, Md. Each of the three designs exceeded the Army’s specification of 1,300 lbs., but the Army soon realized that limit was far too low and raised it for the next round of vehicles.

The Army issued the next round of contracts in March of 1941. Bantam was to produce 1,500 Model 40 BRC vehicles, Ford would build 1,500 modified and improved GP Pygmies, and Willys would build 1,500 Quads. Further testing and evaluation led to the Army’s selection of the Willys vehicle as the standard.

Subsequently, most of the Bantams and Ford GPs (also known as GPWs) produced were sent to Great Britain and Russia as part of the lend-lease program. In Great Britain, the Ford vehicle was popularly known as the “Blitz Buggy.”

Willys MA/MB

With modifications and improvements, the Willys Quad became the MA, and later the MB. But the Army, and the world, came to know it as the Jeep®.

Some claimed that the name came from the slurring of the letters “GP,” the military abbreviation for “General Purpose.” Others say the vehicle was named for a popular character named “Eugene the Jeep” in the Popeye cartoon strip. Whatever its origin, the name entered into the American lexicon and, for awhile, served almost as a generic title for off-road vehicles, while the Jeep itself became an icon of the war.

The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument clusters on the dashboard, and a hand brake on the left side. Willys struggled to reduce the weight to the new Army specification of 2,160 lbs. Items removed in order for the MA to reach that goal were reinstalled on the next-generation MB resulting in a final weight of approximately just 400 lbs. above the specifications.

Willys-Overland would build more than 368,000 vehicles, and Ford, under license, some 277,000, for the U.S. Army. The rugged, reliable olive-drab vehicle would forever be known for helping win a world war.

Willys trademarked the “Jeep” name after the war and planned to turn the vehicle into an off-road utility vehicle for the farm – the civilian Universal Jeep. One of Willys’ slogans at the time was “The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep,” and the company set about making sure the world recognized Willys as the creator of the vehicle.

Source: Jeep