By now most drivers have seen the stickers emblazoned across the rear window of Jeep Wranglers claiming “It’s a Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand”. Some people may shrug it off and ignore the insignia while continuing about their day. However, for some, the nature of the “Jeep Thing” is confounding.
Drivers of Jeep Wranglers are deeply ensconced in the history of this rugged vehicle, and this is where the “Jeep Thing” originates. Miami Jeep tells us that from the original models to the models that travel the roads today, the iconic image of the Jeep has remained surprisingly unchanged over its 70 year lifespan. While minor modifications have been made to the style, a Jeep is still incredibly similar to the initial design, a true testament to the superior construction.
For a vehicle whose drivers have their own wave, the Jeep has a deep-seated history that began with construction for the military in 1940. American military troops needed a vehicle designed to meet certain specifications for easy transport, but rugged enough to traverse unknown territory. Three manufacturers felt they were up to the challenge of meeting the military’s needs; American Bantam, Willys Overland, and Ford.
American Bantam was the first to complete their model, which they called the Blitz Buggy, and because of this, Ford and Willys were able to take a look at their vehicle before completing their own models. Due to the Army testing demonstrations, the remaining two manufacturers were able to see what worked with the Bantam model, and more importantly, what didn’t work.
Bantam knew they would be unable to meet the demand that the military required, because they didn’t have the ability or the money to do so. The military compromised and divided the contract equally between the three companies. With this, production began on the first incarnations of the Jeep we know today.
Eventually Bantam gracefully bowed out of the competition because they couldn’t produce the amount of vehicles the Army required. Ford and Willy stepped up to the plate for a period of time, before the Army made the decision to have only one manufacturer produce the vehicle for them. Aspects of each model were incorporated into the new model to be produced by Willys. When Willys couldn’t keep up, Ford joined the party again, this time producing the same design.
Some stories claim that the name Jeep comes from the Army’s classification of a “general purpose” vehicle, or GP. It is an often argued topic of discussion as no one truly knows where the name originated. No matter where the name Jeep started, the once military-only vehicle has become a household name.
In the mid-forties, Willys began mass-producing a vehicle that very closely resembled the military Jeep known as the CJ-2A, or civilian Jeep. Through many different owners, production of the CJ remained steady until 1986, when it was officially replaced by the Jeep Wrangler. However, amongst Jeep enthusiasts the CJ-7 continues to be a very popular model for off-road enthusiasts.
Beginning in 1987, Jeep produced the YJ model Wrangler, but the CJ series started the claims of what is now known as “The Jeep Thing”. Jeep owners consider their vehicles the ultimate statement of good taste, intellect, and style. Embracing the Jeep mentality means you know the wave, a veritable secret handshake amongst Jeep owners, you’ve emblazoned the Jeep with some sort of after-market insignia, and there is some sort of outer modification.
The Jeep thing is runs so deeply that there are different schools of thought on the model being driven, hard top or soft top, and the number of doors. Some die-hard fans think the four door, hard top Jeep is an unacceptable version of the classic, while some believe any form of Jeep denotes the intelligence of the driver.
The aforementioned wave came about as a symbol of solidarity between Jeep drivers, just as motorcyclists have. Reciprocation of the out the window, above the sideview mirror wave is just as important as being the driver to initiate it. Should the driver fail to return a wave, they are then seen as a “new” Jeep driver that has yet to be informed of the rules of the road.
There have been few outer modifications made to the Jeep over the years, allowing the rugged and sporty vehicle to be easily recognizable no matter the year. With brave beginnings, the Jeep has cemented a place not only in the history of the United States, but in the minds of those wanting a sports utility vehicle with supreme off-road capability.
Clearly, the Jeep thing is catching on.
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