MAGAZINE: Jeep - 75 year portrait of a world-changing icon

As involvement in world war became an inevitability, the US army called on manufacturers to create a sturdy but lightweight vehicle that could serve the Allied troops in the field of action.

A world-changing icon
A world-changing icon

The victorious design, originally created in just two days by Willys (pronounced Willis) Overland Motors, was coined the General Purpose vehicle, later shortened to ‘GP’ and what eventually became known as the ‘Jeep’.

The vehicle played a vital role in Allied victory, becoming the first inanimate object to be awarded the Purple Heart, the oldest honour in American military history and even inspiring poetry... ‘When the war was at its hottest, and the going got too steep, one pal that I could count on, was the mighty little Jeep.’ Heartfelt words written by Pvt Jesse Wolf, on the battlefields of Belgium.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Post-War, the vehicle became a trusted ‘labourer’ for farmers before inventing a whole new chapter in motoring history, the ‘SUV’, some fifty years before the genre became the ‘must-have’ car on millions of driveways.

In its 75 year story, Jeep has become an icon of popular culture, featuring in more movies than any other car and beloved by A-List celebrities like Beyonce, Jay-Z & the Kardashians.

Watch the video where TV Historian Dominic Sandbrook takes us on a historical journey.