12 memorable Jeep models from the early days


Posted by: Chris Odogwu

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Jeep is a consumers favorite. Its size and performance make it stand out from the crowd. You'll love these 12 memorable models from way back. Check them out!

Jeep is one vehicle that hardly passes without being noticed. Its gigantic size catches attention, and comes across as intimidating to smaller vehicles. For lovers of big cars, it is a must-have. Having it parked in your garage gives you a sense of pride. You get to see your money’s worth even before you take it for a ride.

A little history is always a delight. Naijauto puts the spotlight on Jeep, and X-Rays early models that consumers loved. Read along as we take you down memory lane with 12 memorable Jeep oldies.

1. Willys Quad (1940)

The history of Jeep would be incomplete without mentioning the Second World War. The 4X4 design was recognized as an icon in the battle ground. The US Army needed a light truck, and they put out an urgent bid to automakers. Only two automakers were able to come up with a befitting design – Willys and Bantam.


The Willys Quad was made for the US Army during the Second World War

Among the two automakers, Bantam clinched the deal. However, there were worries that the company did not have the capacity to manufacture the vehicle in the large numbers required. After due diligence, it was concluded that Bantam could not deliver, and the deal was transferred to Willys, and Ford subsequently.

2. Ford GPW/Willys MB (1941-1945)

Willys was first commissioned to build the 4X4 vehicles needed for the Second World War by the US Army. The company manufactured 361,339 units, but the number was a far cry from the high demand for the vehicle. Ford was brought into the picture to assist in the production, and it produced more 280,000 units using Willy’s 60bhp engine of four cylinders. Expectedly, the ones produced by Ford were slightly different from the ones earlier produced by Willys.


Ford came in to assist Willys with more units for the war

3. CJ-2A (1945-1949)

When the Second World came to an end, nothing much was said about the Jeep; it had served its purpose. Willys looked into farming, and figured that farmers could make do with a strong and rugged-looking vehicle for their activities. This thought gave birth to the CJ-2A which was an advanced version of the military 4X4 produced for the US Army. It was called “Universal” due to its multipurpose nature.

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CJ-2A was produced to help farmers with their work

4. Willys Wagon (1946-1965)

Willys took it a notch higher with the production of a lifestyle SUV simply referred to as Willys Wagon. Unlike the former Jeep vehicles produced, this model had its body enclosed, offering more comfort.

The metal sides of the Jeep were given a “woody” estate look, but they still managed not to rot from the coachwork. In 1949, a four-wheel drive option was offered. The Wagon was also made available in basic delivery versions.


Willys Wagon was a lifestyle luxury ride 

5. Jeepster (1948-1951)

Contrary to popular belief, cross pollinating of cars is not a new trend. This was done to the Jeepster way back. It originally had a sporty design, taking inspiration from the CJ-2A. Although people were fascinated to have a four-seater with an open roof, its speed was quite slow, resulting to low sales of 19,132 units only.

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Despite being the first four-seater, the Jeepster wasn't a commercial success

6. CJ-3A (1949-1953)

Next in line was the CJ-3A which was an advancement of the civilian theme. It offered luxuries such as twin wipers and one-piece windscreens. Upgrades like the rear axle, stronger gearbox and transfer case stood out for most customers.


The CJ-3A was an upgraded version of the Civilian theme

7. M38 (1950-1952)

Following the pattern of the Jeep originally produced for the US Army, the CJ-3A was transformed into the M38 with a military outlook. The army needed some changes to be made for effective use, leading to the creation of new features such as a beefed-up suspension, stronger chassis, clever vent system and waterproof ignition among others.


The M38 was also designed for the US Army

8. M38A1 (1952-1971)

The M38A1 was made popular by an American TV show in the 1980s titled The A-Team. It grew even more popular when it was used by the US Army especially for its indestructible four-cylinder engine. It was a favorite among soldiers in the army, and was greatly missed when its production ended in 1971.

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The M38A1 was adored by soldiers in the US Army

9. CJ-5 (1955-1983)

Having run for 28 years in production, the CJ-5 is unarguably the most popular Jeep brand. When people talk about Jeep, it is the brand that comes to mind. Its wheelbase was made longer, and there were improvements in the general quality. In 1973, V8 engines were offered in the vehicle, and it was the perfect car for an off-road ride at the time.


The CJ-5 is the most popular Jeep model

10. CJ-6 (1955-1981)

Improving on the CJ-5, the CJ-6 offered a longer wheelbase. 20 inches were added to the axles in response to the demand of customers. It was the only commercial model offered without rear seats. Changes made to the engine were as a result of observations from the CJ-5. Business users got the chance to enjoy the Perkins diesel engines all through the 1960s.


The CJ-6 was the only commercial model from Jeep without rear seats

11. Wagoneer (1963-1991)

Jeep thought it was necessary to move away from its utilitarian roots, and the result was the SJ Wagoneer. The Wagoneer was an epitome of luxury – this was many years before the world got to see the first Range Rover. Besides its style, the Wagoneer was also the very first car to have an automatic gearbox.


The Wagoneer was the definition of luxury 

12. Gladiator (1963-1987)

The strength of the Jeep brand was further brought to fore with the launch of its pickup truck range – taking a similar luxurious outlook as the Wagoneer. It was called the Gladiator from inception to 1971. After that year, it was called the J-Series.

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The Gladiator had a pickup range 


These 12 Jeep models left fond memories in the minds of car lovers. As we enjoy the latest Jeep designs in today’s modern society, it is important that we acknowledge the oldies that paved way for them.

>>> Want more auto-fun stories? Always visit Naijauto.com for updates!

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Chris Odogwu

Chris Odogwu

Car events

Chris Odogwu is a Content Writer and Journalist. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from University of Jos and a master's degree in Mass Communication from University of Lagos. His works have been published in top local and international publications including Forbes, HuffPost, ThriveGlobal, TheNextScoop and Nigeria360 among others. A member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the thrill he gets from writing about exotic cars feels almost the same as riding in them.

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