The Universal Jeep

REVISED AND UPDATED — In 1945, Willys-Overland emerged from the Second World War with one of the greatest automotive brands ever created and a need to capitalize on it. Here’s how the Willys Jeep became the universal vehicle. 

 

 

Toledo-based Willys-Overland barely survived the Great Depression, but in the trusty Jeep of World War II fame, so revered by returning military veterans, now the automaker had a desirable and useful vehicle that could be leveraged into a complete product line. That’s just what the company did, and Jeep thrives to this day as one of the world’s most valuable automotive brands and a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Some of the models spun off in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s from the famous Willys Jeep MB of WWII:

+   The CJ series of civilian Jeeps.

+   A larger, Jeep-derived vehicle with an all-steel station wagon body, offered in both 2WD and 4WD versions.

+   An odd but charming touring phaeton designed by Brooks Stevens, built on the station wagon chassis and marketed as the Jeepster.

+   A 2WD version of the CJ, the DJ-3A Dispatcher, designed for urban commercial use including postal delivery.

+   A Dispatcher with a panel truck body, the FJ-3 Fleetvan.

+   A  forward-control, cab-over-engine variant of the CJ, the FC series pickup, offered in both short and long wheelbase versions.

… to name but a few. Meanwhile, all through the postwar era, Jeep advertising focused on showing the handy vehicles adapted to every imaginable use in home, farm, and industry. Here are some fascinating old company PR photos that portray the Jeep as the Swiss Army knife of vehicles.

 

Willys FC backhoe in operation
Jeep furrow plow
Willys Jeep FC snow plow
Willys Jeep baggage conveyor
Willys Jeep DJ-3A Dispatcher with metal top
Willys Station Wagon Toledo Fire Department Ambulet
Willys Jeep FC Howe Fire hose truck
Willys open utility truck
Jeep fording kit with trailer Maumee Bay
1945 Jeep insecticide sprayer
Willys FC snowplow
Willys Jeep FC railroad vehicle
Willys Station Wagon radio remote truck
Willys Jeep mower1945
Jeep cargo conveyor docks downtown Toledo
FC Willys pickup and Jeep with brush
Jeep factory conveyor
Willys Jeep paint spraying
Willys Jeep CJ-5 Howe fire truck
Willys FJ-3 Fleetvan mail delivery
Willys FC dualie backhoe front view
Lanston McEachern photographer with Jeepster camera platform
1947 Willys Station Wagon Toledo Red Cross
1961 Willys Fleetvan FJ-3
Jeep streetcleaner Capitol building
Jeep CJ-7 Unicef vehicle
Willys Jeep with power takeoff operating thresher
Jeep CJ-5 sprayer
The Universal Jeep
Willys Jeep CJ-5 pulling disc harrow
Willys Jeep on the farm 1945 demonstration
Jeep Trencher
Willys 4WD ambulance
Jeep CJ-5 fumigator weed sprayer
Willys FC airport utility vehicle
Jeep CJ-5 welder
Jeep with disc Charles Sorensen and Ward Canaday
Willys Jeep FC airline sanitation truck
Willys Jeep pulling rake harrow 1945

Willys FC backhoe in operation

Jeep furrow plow

Willys Jeep FC snow plow

Willys Jeep baggage conveyor

Willys Jeep DJ-3A Dispatcher with metal top

Willys Station Wagon Toledo Fire Department Ambulet

Willys Jeep FC Howe Fire hose truck

Willys open utility truck

Jeep fording kit with trailer Maumee Bay

1945 Jeep insecticide sprayer

Willys FC snowplow

Willys Jeep FC railroad vehicle

Willys Station Wagon radio remote truck

Willys Jeep mower1945

Jeep cargo conveyor docks downtown Toledo

FC Willys pickup and Jeep with brush

Jeep factory conveyor

Willys Jeep paint spraying

Willys Jeep CJ-5 Howe fire truck

Willys FJ-3 Fleetvan mail delivery

Willys FC dualie backhoe front view

Lanston McEachern photographer with Jeepster camera platform

1947 Willys Station Wagon Toledo Red Cross

1961 Willys Fleetvan FJ-3

Jeep streetcleaner Capitol building

Jeep CJ-7 Unicef vehicle

Willys Jeep with power takeoff operating thresher

Jeep CJ-5 sprayer

The Universal Jeep

Willys Jeep CJ-5 pulling disc harrow

Willys Jeep on the farm 1945 demonstration

Jeep Trencher

Willys 4WD ambulance

Jeep CJ-5 fumigator weed sprayer

Willys FC airport utility vehicle

Jeep CJ-5 welder

Jeep with disc Charles Sorensen and Ward Canaday

Willys Jeep FC airline sanitation truck

Willys Jeep pulling rake harrow 1945

5 thoughts on “The Universal Jeep

  1. I think pics 28 and 31 are actually CJ-6’s due to the longer wheelbase behind the doors. I don’t think the CJ-7 came out until the late 70’s, early 80’s, and had a square door opening instead of the cut out for the rear wheel.

    • Thanks, we’ll check it out. By the way, the photos are in no fixed order. They load in different order every time. I’ll just have to figure it out.

  2. My family used a Standard Vanguard ute for harrowing, spraying, working in vineyards etc. The one tractor we had was used for bigger and heavier jobs with another driver.
    None of this fancy 4wd stuff!
    BTW Pic 22 is seeding, that big box is full of seed. Poor little jeep would be working really hard to do that.
    Those LWB 4wd wagons made good offroad ambos,, though rode like a dray. I once rode in a 60s Landrover ambo. Not sure what did more damage, the crash or the ambo ride!
    Some of those adaptions really were not practical but some where oh so handy. And I am sure helped many farmers and small communities without the resources to buy bigger and better,, eg the snoplow, various conveyers, aircraft steps/ conveyers etc.

  3. Comment on CJ-6 is correct. CJ-6 was 101″ wheelbase, 20 inches longer than CJ-5. CJ-6 came out in 1955; CJ-7 (93.5″wb) in 1976. (Later Scrambler, also called CJ-8, was 103.5″ wb) FC150s were 81″ wheelbase (same as CJ-5), while FC170s were 103 5/8″. Photo of “Open utility truck” is vehicle sold by Jeep as Cargo & Personnel Carrier (also available as Fire truck with body similar in appearance) on 118″ wheelbase, same as ambulance, pickup, and platform stake. Jeep wagon and sedan delivery or panel delivery (both names used to describe same vehicle at different times) had 104.5″ wheelbase. The Dispatcher and Fleetvan both used 80″ wb chassis, as did the CJ3B, and the Surrey Gala (pitched to resorts and hotels). Many are aware of the M715, a “Gladiator” based military truck, but seemingly few know of the M274, a 4wd 1/2 ton weapons carrier. It was designed to be air dropped for use with ground troops. Wheelbase was 57″, engine was Willys, 4 cycle air cooled horizontally opposed four cylinder, mounted below flat cargo deck. Both front and rear axles were driven, and both were steerable. It could be driven from atop the platform, with the driver’s feet out ahead of the vehicle in a tubular “basket”, or the operator could walk beside it and control it.

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