Generally speaking, people focus on the flashiest elements of militaries. For instance, nobles such as the Spartiates and the samurai tend to receive much more interest than the rank-and-file of their contemporaries. Similarly, when people talk about 20th and 21st century conflicts, they give a disproportionate amount of attention to tanks, battleships, and fighter planes compared to their less glamorous counterparts. Thanks to this, it is very easy to miss out on something like the jeep in spite of its pivotal role in the Second World War.
For those who are unfamiliar, the United States possessed an overwhelming advantage in industrial manufacturing compared to its enemies in said conflict. However, it couldn't put that advantage to good use unless it had the designs. As such, when it became clear that the United States would be getting involved in the European theater of the Second World War, the U.S. military contacted 135 companies about creating the prototype for a four-wheel drive reconnaissance car. Out of the 135 companies, just two - the American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland - responded, which was presumably influenced by the fact that the U.S. military gave a deadline of just 49 days. Willys-Overlanded pulled out after its request for more time was rejected, with the result that it was the American Bantam Car Company that created the prototype called the Bantam Reconnaissance Car.
The Bantam Reconnaissance Car wasn't perfect. For instance, it failed to meet the U.S. military's requirements when it came to engine torque. However, it was good enough to get the go-ahead, though the American Bantam Car Company was too small to meet the full extent of the U.S. military's needs. As such, the prototype was supplied to both Ford and Willys-Overland, which turned it into the Ford Pygmy and the Willys Quad. The latter was what became the standard jeep design in the Second World War, called either the Ford GPW when manufactured by Ford, the Willys MB when manufactured by Willys-Overland, or the Truck, 1/4 ton, 4x4 in official U.S. military reference.
It isn't quite clear how jeeps winded up being called jeeps. The most popular line of speculation is that jeep comes from a slurring of GP meaning either "general purpose" or "government purpose," which would be very similar to how Humvee comes from a slurring of HMMWV. However, this falls through when one learns that the term jeep predates the use of jeeps. In particular, there are those who believe that the vehicles were named for a comic strip character named Eugene the Jeep, a magical teleporting dog who served as the sidekick of Popeye the Sailor. Other lines of speculation range from jeep being a variation on cheap to jeep being an acronym for "just enough essential parts."
Whatever the case, jeeps were used for just about everything in the Second World War, so much so that they became one of the most memorable symbols of the United States as a whole. Naturally, this meant that there was considerable interest in both Jeeps and Jeep-branded vehicles for civilian use following the conflict. Willys-Overland was the one that walked away with the ownership of the Jeep brand for civilian use by virtue of being the one that went on to produce Jeeps for civilian use, though it struggled for quite some time because of the American Bantam Car Company's legal efforts. However, Willys-Overland no longer exists in the present time. Instead, it was bought out by Kaiser Motors, which would eventually sell its Jeep-related operations to the American Motors Corporation. In turn, the American Motors Corporation turned those operations into a subsidiary called AM General, which winded up being controlled by Renault and then Chrysler. Nowadays, Jeep continues operating under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Something that speaks volumes about the power of its brand.
How Has the Jeep Logo Changed Over Time?
The Jeep logo has never been very complicated. In fact, the earliest versions consisted of "Jeep" enclosed in single quotes, which has since been turned into "Jeep" without being enclosed in single quotes. Besides this, there is also a more complicated version of the Jeep logo that consists of "Jeep" suspended over the stylized representation of a car grill bookended by a pair of car headlights.
Color-wise, the Jeep logos have seen some changes over time. The earliest versions used a combination of red and gold, both of which can be considered stand-out colors. In the first case, red can be considered very primal in nature, seeing as how it is the color of fire as well as the color of blood. As such, it is no wonder that it has symbolized not just power but also passion to a wide range of audiences. Meanwhile, gold is less primal in nature. However, it makes up for that by being prestigious, not least because gold is a precious metal that is either synonymous or next-to-synonymous with value in a lot of people's perception. Thanks to that, gold also has a number of other positive connotations such as wisdom, wealth, and even excellence. Later on, the Jeep logo started using blue, which can be explained by the fact that the American Motors Corporation used a combination of red, white, and blue. In the present time, the Jeep logo is a darker shade of green. This is a rugged color in its own right, which isn't a bad choice for the kind of vehicles that bear the Jeep brand. However, darker green also serves to call up the Jeep brand's long association with the U.S. military. Something that can be considered the very foundation of the brand.
After all, the reason that Jeep logos have never been very complicated is that Jeep logos have never needed to be very complicated. When people see Jeep, they immediately know what it means as well as what it stands for, which started up because of their widespread use in the Second World War. Said conflict created the impression of vehicles that are cheap but rugged and reliable, meaning that they can be relied upon for a wide range of tasks under a wide range of circumstances. Due to that, the Jeep brand was built up even before Jeep vehicles became available for civilian use.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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