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Jeep concept salutes military heritage

One-off rolled out on 75th anniversary of Willys-Overland contract signing

Published: July 15, 2016, 10:30 PM
Updated: August 2, 2016, 5:59 PM

Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute concept

Just about everybody knows the Jeep brand traces its roots back to the general purpose vehicle custom built for the US army for World War II, but Jeep is proudly saluting that heritage with a 75th anniversary vehicle.

Built on the line in Toledo, Ohio, that has produced Wranglers for decades, the new Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute concept rolled off the line on the 75th anniversary of the original’s conception — July 15, 1941, when the contract to build the Willys MB was awarded to Willys-Overland by the US government — complete with the rugged functionality and design cues of the original.

Pres. Roosevelt in Willys MB in 1943

“We are creating this unique Jeep Wrangler 75th Salute concept vehicle in celebration of the brand’s legendary history, and to demonstrate that 75 years later, today’s iconic Jeep Wrangler is instantly recognizable and clearly connected to the original Willys MB,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA Global. “Since they were first produced in 1941, Jeep vehicles have been the authentic benchmark for off-road capability, having mastered more terrain, led more adventures and provided drivers more freedom than any other vehicle before or since.”

The one-of-a-kind Wrangler 75th Salute concept is built off the 2-door Wrangler Sport, powered by the 285-hp 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 with a 6-speed manual transmission sending power to all four wheels, as needed.

Like the original, the “function over form” vehicle is devoid of B-pillars and doors and painted in the olive-drab that permeates military vehicles in many nations to this day. Body-colour 16-inch steel wheels are shod with 32-inch military-spec tires, and the hood latches and wood bumper blocks, steel bumpers front and rear with steel tow hoops, and rear mounted spare are all presented in heritage trim.

The interior gets similar heritage treatment, with low back canvas covered seats, and there are the usual special badges front, rear, side and inside, and also custom graphics on the hood, with the historic military designation number replaced by the year-month-day date of the build (20160715).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it has no current plans to build a version of the concept for public conception, but we wouldn’t put out of the realm of possibilities given the importance of the milestone to not just Jeep but also American history.