Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Jeep By Any Other Name

A jeep by any other name, would it still be considered a jeep? Hmmm... ever since the jeep first became known to the general public, the name and its origin and what it was attributed to has been a subject hotly debated by everyone. It is generally well known that the comic strip and cartoon hero, Popeye may have been lent the name ‘jeep’ to the jeep. The ‘Eugene the jeep’ in Popeye was a strange looking magical creature seemingly capable of going anywhere via inter-dimensional travel. Some say that this ability to go anywhere may have perfectly paralleled the military jeep’s capabilities. Or ‘jeep’ may have originated in a slurring of the ‘G’ (Government use...) and the ‘P’ (standing for an 80 inch wheelbase vehicle...) in the Ford GPW. There are a few other interesting uses shown in this article such as ‘jeep’ as slang for a naive, inexperienced person that was seen in a 1938 Saturday Evening Post article. It also seems to have been slang for any untried or tested military vehicle or gadget.
But wherever it came from, I have seen many examples of the word ‘jeep’ as a ubiquitous reference to just about any military vehicle from a 2 1/2 ton 6X6 to gliders to tanks. But in my Popular Mechanics searches I’ve uncovered a few that I had never  seen before. From a super-heavy tractor and trailer hauler, a ‘snow-jeep’ on caterpillar treads (that was still being used in 1948 well after Willys had successfully filed for trademarked use of the name ‘jeep.’) and a ‘harbor jeep’ tug used after the Normandy invasion these were unique. As well as the ‘jeep’ there other designations as the ‘peep’ and the ‘beep.’ The ‘beep’ was a three wheeled motor scooter used for courier purposes as seen in one of the articles dating from 1942.
Of course, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, the jeep, an idea whose time had come, had imitators from the 1948 Land Rover Series 1 to a  two wheel drive Japanese scout car. As under-gunned as it was compared to the MB, the Japanese version did have some features that would be now considered forward thinking including side curtains, a small V2 engine, a hydraulic steering stabilizer and front coil springs. You can look at what I found right here.
Come back the next couple of weeks when I’ll be cruising through more Popular Mechanic articles in an effort to polish off what I have for the moment before starting something new for the New Year. There is also the December page for 2012 calendar to show off and while you can still buy it, the 2013 calendar is also available with 12 new never before seen photos. Its still not too late to check out the Zazzle marketplace for that perfect gift for the jeep lover in your family. From new holiday cards and ornaments to new tee shirt designs and more you’ll find something that you or a friend would love for Xmas! See you next week!

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