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World’s Oldest Jeep Getting Some Love

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GP-01 Celebrating 75th Birthday in Museum

When the Army asked for prototype vehicles prior to the start of World War II, little did it know that it would be creating an off-road monster still in production today. Called the “GP-01” at the time, it had a nickname of Pygmy. That name didn’t stick, but historians believe that “GP” eventually evolved into Jeep, and the light reconnaissance vehicle that could go through mud, snow or sand is now the Wrangler. “The government didn’t really know what it wanted,” historian Brandt Rosenbuch told USA Today. It had begun work on a small four-wheel drive vehicle with American Bantam in 1937, but then Ford and Willys got in the act and produced prototypes of their own. Based on the Bantam concept, both Ford and Willys producted more than a quarter-million wartime Jeeps each. The original Ford prototype is now in the Veteran’s Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jeep was the Granddaddy of all SUVs

When you sit in your comfortable Grand Cherokee or other large SUV, recognize that the GP-01 was the vehicle that started it all. “It’s very rare to be able to trace a whole class of vehicles to a single one, but this is where it all began,” said Matt Anderson, curator at the Ford Museum. “It’s an icon of World War II and a symbol of wartime production in the auto industry.” The Jeep was famous for its versatility and ability to travel through all types of rough terrain during the war. GIs snapped up the surplus vehicles after the war was over. Willys seized the moment and switched over to the production of civilian vehicles. The Jeep was popular on farms before becoming the iconic off-road vehicle that it is today. If you’ve never driven a Wrangler, stop by your Scottsdale Jeep dealer, Chapman Dodge, and see why it remains the choice of off-road enthusiasts.

Original Jeep Had All of 42 Horses

The GP-01 in the Veteran’s Museum was sorely lacking in horsepower by today’s standards, but it got the job done. With just 42 horsepower and a 119-cubic inch four cylinder engine, it took a while to get the one-ton vehicle up to speed. For comparison’s sake, the modern Wrangler is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 260 foot pounds of torque. When paired with either the Command-Trac or Rock-Trac four-wheel drive system, there are few trails the little Jeep cannot master. The Wrangler has a number of special off-road packages, including the ultimate Rubicon. Named after one of the toughest trails in America, the Rubicon comes from the factory with everything you need to tame the wild outdoors. Check out the selection of Jeeps and see how they’ve evolved over the years with a visit to Chapman Dodge.

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