Sunday, September 7, 2014
Like so many things in life and in the history of the jeep there are mysteries. This, for me is one of the big ones. The first half dozen negatives showed up on Ebay about last year or so and it was intriguing. They showed a converted CJ3-A that looked as though it had its front end grafted onto a large camper trailer. There was no further info in the listing other than its date 1950. It was a mystery. Who made this? Where was it and why? Did it still exist? How did something like this handle on the road? What was it powered by? Certainly I would think not the original flathead Go Devil 4? Inside the photos showed a pretty standard camper with sleeping berths, gas stove and a refrigerator with a basic utilitarian driver’s cockpit. It was pretty unique to say the least.
A few months later another contact sheet of negatives showed up again on Ebay. They showed a further ten negs with people inhabiting the camper making it look like posed commercially shot photos for a future advertising campaign. The only other info that was supplied was that it was again from the 1950’s, but also that the camper was pictured in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. Certainly this wasn’t the first time that someone envisioned a bit more comfort while using the jeep in the wilderness or as a camping/ hunting vehicle. A 1952 Motor Trend article shows off one hunter’s modification of his Willys pickup.
Much later on in 1969, Kaiser introduced the short lived Jeep Camper which was designed to be piggybacked on the back of a modified CJ-5 (that is with the Buick 225 V-6 and 4.88 gearing... but they would fit any CJ-5.) They made only 336 of them and are pretty rare nowadays. You can read a bit more here @www.cj5camper.com/. Was this a mockup of something that Kaiser was envisioning a decade before the production camper? There are many good questions and if anyone can supply any answers or would be willing to share higher resolution scans of these negs please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view all of the negs in the website finds album here. Enjoy this end of summer fun and come back next week for more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Monday, September 1, 2014
Happy Labor Day to everyone! I had wanted to get this up yesterday, but it was a very long day trying to squeeze as much as possible into a three day weekend. Regardless, today is more fitting as I wanted to bring to you a selection of new images that I’ve found of the jeep hard at work. Specifically of the jeep at work on the farm. Post-war, Willys-Overland targeted farmers as an important market for the new jeep CJ2-A. I won’t go into a whole history lesson, but W-O test marketed the jeep in farms across the country and had them photographed by the press while performing various tasks such as hauling hay and milk to running agricultural devices with the rear power take-off. Many of these jeeps were the first CJ’s, the CJ-1 which were slightly modified MBs and then the next incarnation, the CJ-2, the famous “Agrijeeps.” These photos represent them and mostly the years of 1944-45, though some are undated and represent the years of the CJ2-A production. There are also a Bantam BRC-60 being used to tend to the cows and a Ford GP hauling milk cans as well as a couple of GIs lassooing cattle from the seat of an MB. There are also some fanciful photos of a CJ2-A and as well the first introduction of the CJ-5 in 1954 being shown in a pastoral landscape. You can view them all right here in the album section of Website Finds.
I’d also like to take the time to thank Extreme Terrain for their continued advertising support of This-Old-Jeep.com. Its due in part to our sponsors like Extreme Terrain that I’m able to keep this site up and running year after year. Please take the time to support them by clicking through their link at the bottom of the page. Enjoy your holiday and we’ll see you next week with the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
As August is very nearly coming to an end and as well with it, the symbolic end of summer, I want to hope that everyone has had a great summer. Not that the year should all be downhill after summer, but it has always seemed like a big turning point when kids start going back to school and the days are shorter and crisper and somehow sweeter. Its time for apple picking and seeing school buses on the road and possibly even putting up the top on your jeep. So at this crux of the season I thought it appropriate to dedicate this update to more wrecks and stucks. I started this topic last year and for many reasons its always easy to find more whoops! moments with the jeep. I think that it has something to do with the fact that while the jeep seems unstoppable, we’re all human and the jeep, too is unfortunately fallible.
And so I hope that you all have had no wrecks, and only as many stucks as it took to learn something from it and maybe even have a little fun laughing at yourselves. Click right here to see all of the images plus everything from the original post in the Website Finds section. See you guys next week!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Hi again everyone. Sorry about the delay over the last couple of weeks. But I’m back today with a short update for your enjoyment. There is SO much over the last couple of years that I’ve discovered online relating to the jeep. Its not hard, they’re beloved and ubiquitous, just everywhere and a part of alot of people’s everyday lives, so its no wonder. But sometimes they pop up online in unexpected places and the focus of today’s update is the website find of Ipernity.com. Ipernity is to be a photo sharing site and so you never know what you can find there. Last summer I found a number of really interesting photos that I had never before seen. They seemed to be someone’s personal collection or maybe what they had found online and posted there. Its hard to tell, but it was a nice little find that mainly focused on military men posing around a multitude of jeeps. Like I said a short update, but some interesting photos!
My wife and kids and I went to a friend’s wedding yesterday and the reception was held at the local AAA baseball team’s stadium with a game following (which the home team won in the tenth inning with a tremendous home run with bases loaded!). So its a bit of a quick update today but I hope that you enjoy it! See you next week and you can view the entire album right here.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the phrase that “form follows function” before. I’m a firm believer in it. The jeep is a perfect example of it. The form of the jeep was derived from the functions that it was necessary to provide for the US Army Quartermaster Corps. When the call went out for the vehicle that was to become the jeep in 1940 it was heeded by very few companies. Very few companies either had the engineering talent necessary to create something from scratch and/or they just didn’t need the contract. American Bantam Motor Car had both. They had Karl Probst, a freelance automotive engineer, who reportedly drafted the design in two days in June of 1940, along with Harold Crist, Chet Hemphling and Ralph Turner. But they also had the need.
There has been alot written about Bantam’s solvency versus Willys-Overland and the overall strong points of both companies and frankly I don’t know what to believe. But the important point was that Bantam responded to the Army’s unrealistic 49 day time frame for a working and running prototype to be delivered to Camp Holabird, Maryland by September 1940. So while some say that the Army contract saved Bantam for a short while, it was more likely the other way around. Bantam saved the Army’s bacon and helped in a very key way to create a very necessary piece of war equipment. Bantam’s design was aped and copied by the final two manufacturers, Willys and Ford and it was this design that has influenced every jeep made since. From these beginning requirements that the military set down, the form was derived.
- The weight was not to exceed 1200 pounds (increased to 1275 lbs 1 July and then to 1308 lbs).
- Carry six hundred pounds of payload in cross country operations.
- Wheelbase not to exceed 75 inches (increased to 80 inches 1 July).
- Height not to exceed 36 inches (increased to 40 inches 1 July).
- Approach angle of 45° and departure angle of 40°.
- Four wheel drive with a two speed transfer case, geared for up to 50 mph on-road and down to 3 mph off-road.
- A mount for a .30 cal. machine gun.
- A rectangular body and folding windshield.
- Seating for three.
- Blackout lights.
From this humble beginning the jeep was born. And if you’re like me as I’m sure that you are, you appreciate the jeep’s relatively simple boxy design. But it turns out that not only the jeep’s normal fans that were impressed by the little jeep. In 1951, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC decided to hold a series of exhibits that showcased examples of what they considered timeless examples of automotive design. It was the first real example of a new thought along the lines of what constitutes not just auto beauty, but overall auto design. It wasn’t a new idea for the museum actually. Since the early post-war ideas through the mid 1950’s they had begun asking the question of ‘what is good design?’ as regards everyday things from home goods, appliances, furnishings and sporting goods. The shows ranged from coffee makers and cheese graters to Tupperware. And like these humble daily objects the jeep was chosen in its fall show of 1951 for its practicality and purposeful design.
The jeep chosen was loaned from Kaiser Willys, an M38 and it sat in the museum. I wish that I had been able to find the whole catalogue for it, but instead I have only sections, but at least the page for the jeep is able to be found online. You can see the image at the top of the page and the catalogue entry reads as follows:
“1951 (model first produced in 1941). Manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors, Inc., Toledo, Ohio. Overall length 10 feet 3 inches.
The admirable Jeep seems to have the combined appeal of an intelligent dog and a perfect gadget. It is an appeal so vast that this wonderful tool for transportation has won approval for much more that its practicality, though the engineers who perfected it worked without the concern for style with which other automobiles are designed.
The Jeep looks like a tray, or perhaps a sturdy sardine can, on wheels. Part of the top appears to have been cut open and folded up, to serve as a windshield. From it a canvas canopy can be stretched over some metal struts to the back of the car, thus affording temporary shelter from rain. large wheels dominate the design, and insist rather than suggest that the Jeep’s primary purpose is transportation.
One of the most striking illustrations of its direct design is the front fender. It is composed of two rectangular platforms placed at the best angle for preventing mud splash. The two sections are connected by an overlap, left plainly visible, and the lower section is joined to a small step. The side walls are low enough for passengers to step in, thus eliminating mechanically troublesome doors. Even refinements of contour grow out of practical considerations: the fenders have rounded corners to avoid cutting passengers as they get in.
With its wheels removed and the windshield folded flat the jeep fits into a shipping case. Uncrated and on the road it can maneuver its way through spaces blocked to larger vehicles. It can be stood on end and pushed through narrow passages; it has on occasion been dismantled and carried, piece by piece, over unmanageable terrain, and with suitable equipment it can be driven underwater. Bolts visible on the wheels and the body facilitate either the removal of parts or periodic tightening.
Those who have used the Jeep will recall certain limitations of comfort. Yet there are few automobiles that give their drivers so exhilarating a sense of speed and control. The Jeep substitutes for a deliberate esthetic program the formative principles of construction; its design is unified by the economy, (disdaining the merely decorative with which each part is fitted for its purpose. It is one of the few genuine expressions of machine art.”
Well said, the only part that I disagree with is calling it a ‘car.’ I just wish that Jeep still designed at least one of their vehicles this way today.
As recently as last year the jeep has found its way into a museum space with the last MOMA exhibit, Born Out Of Necessity, which is as good a way of any of describing the genesis of the jeep. Though this time the jeep featured was a 1952 M38A1. The jeep rubbed shoulders with a 1959 VW Bug and a 1961 Jaguar E-Type and made its way into the MOMA’s permanent collection in 2002.
Here are a couple of good write-ups on the series of exhibits (though not specifically jeep related...) here and here and for more on the last exhibit, Born Out Of Necessity see here and here. I also found a magazine article from an undated copy of ‘Auto Sport Review.’ It talks about the various vehicles in the exhibit with no mention of the show at the MOMA itself. I think that I can forgive the article writer for misdating the M38 as a 1941 as he/she hits the mark by identifying the jeep as having an “appearance and its purpose” that are the same. Again, its very true and what endears the jeep to millions. There’s nothing frilly or unnecessary about it.
You can download and read a PDF of the magazine article here- Auto Sport Review-WIGD.pdf, the MOMA’s press releases may also interest you here- 1951 MOMA Press Announcements.pdf as well as a PDF of the catalogue cover and the page on the jeep itself.
Come back next week. I haven’t an idea right now of what I’m going to write about, but I also said that last week and then realized that this was something that I had wanted to put the time into researching for some time now. Hope that you enjoyed it and see you next week with more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, July 20, 2014
This is going to be the first time that I’ve written or presented anything related to the YJ at This-Old-Jeep.com. For a long time I simply didn’t like the looks of them- the new sorta funky and modern looking dash that was a long ways from the simple flat dash that generations of jeeps had succeeded in just being awesome machines with, the padding everywhere, the just plain... modernity of the YJ that truly set it apart from any of its predecessors. But worst of all were the square headlights that replaced the familiar and comfortable face of every jeep since 1940. But in reality, those were some of the things that have allowed the jeep to continue until today. It succeeded by adapting as we all must evolve. Nowadays, a couple of years back I had the realization that I sort of liked the YJ, it was finally become ‘classic’ looking in the intervening years! And so today, we have the last of the brochures from the car enthusiast website, a “web magazine/blog” Lov2xlr8.
On May 13, 1986 the newly named moniker of ‘Wrangler’ made its debut. Aside from the newly designed front end sheet metal that carried the square headlights there were many other details that were subtly new. The rear gate was new as was the swing away tire carrier. The hood was now beveled with rounded edges that was supported by the new front grill. Little touches like flexible fender flares and built in splash shields that wrapped back from the front fenders were added. The soft top was entirely new making it a truly better design that incorporated half doors and soft uppers. As well now you could remove the side and rear windows for a bikini top.
The AMC 258-6 was still doing the power chores as an option for the YJ with the 4 cylinder 2.5 liter as the standard. Also, the Sahara edition showed up as a special edition with leather wrapped wheel and heavier carpeting and other khaki trim. It all went for a base price of $8795. As far as it was from the original CJ2-A that debuted in 1945 with two color choices, the 1987 YJ Laredo also had a mere two color choices available- Olympic white and Classic black (though other additional colors were available as extra cost add-ons...)
The YJ went on with small changes here and there, but the biggest to come was the introduction of the new 4.0, the newly designed high output 180 horsepower fuel injected straight six that replaced the AMC design, the 4.2 liter/ 258 cu. inch six. The YJ went on along with the begrudging respect from Jeep fans eventually gaining standard stuff today like OBD II systems and anti-lock brakes, a newly designed cage and third eye brake light. It continued until 1997 when it was replaced the all new TJ, which is a whole other story! One little detail that I didn’t know until I was doing the research for this article was the fact that there was no actual 1996 YJ. It continued instead an ‘old’ tradition of retitling the previous year’s 1995 built jeeps as a 1996.
Well, this wraps up the 1980’s and other than a few miscellaneous ads, the end of material from Lv2xlr8. I’m not sure right now what I’ll present next week, but I’ll figure out something. Or drop me an email email@example.com or at our Facebook page with a suggestion. Tell a friend about us too and Like us. We’re nearly at 1,000 likes! Have a great summer weekend and come back for more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The 1980’s were a tumultuous time for the world and for Jeep. In 1985 the CJ was nearly ready to end production. At this time the CJ-5 was no more and the CJ-7 was the lone survivor in the CJ camp. But it went on proudly through its final year in 1986 after the decision was announced by Joseph Cappy, the executive VP of operations in November of 1985. Another old veteran, the Gladiator was scheduled to be phased out in 1987. In ’85 their lineup was pretty slim with the J-10 not being manufactured (but for some reason it made its triumphant swan song return in its final year, 1987...). The J-20 with a 131” wheelbase was the only offering in its base level or the Pioneer package that for an additional $475 gave you floor carpeting, fabric door panel inserts, a wood grain instrument cluster overlay, decals, wheel covers and an Extra Quiet Insulation Package that included a custom headliner and dash insulation along with other sound deadening materials for that rumble of the 258 inline 6 or AMC’s 360 V-8.
But as the 1980’s were about the fear of nuclear mutual assured destruction they were also about hope for the future and this was embodied in the Cherokee and the Commanche pickup. The Cherokee had been remodeled the year before in 1984 and it was a hit. The Cherokee had been named 4 Wheel & Off Road magazine’s “4 X 4 of the Year.” It was an exciting new step in the right direction and as the brochure illustrates the “Innovation and Technology Only In A Jeep.” The new Commanche expanded Jeep’s marketplace footstep into a new area, that of the burgeoning market for the smaller and more affordable import pickup truck. It debuted officially as a 1986 model and if you look carefully, you’ll realize that its basic design was taken from the Cherokee sans enclosed rear. It never quite developed a following in the day and by 1992 after some 164,000 units made it ended its run.
But like any jeep that had seen better days, a new star was on the horizon, about to shine and where we end up next week will be the first glimpse of that star.