Iconic Jeep Wrangler: Then and Now
The Jeep Wrangler is an American icon. Though not called a Jeep Wrangler at the time, the Wrangler was originally designed for combat in America’s battle to remain a free country in World War II. Though the Wrangler is no longer used in combat today, it is still seen as a figure of freedom. Here’s a recap of its history.
Before the Jeep Wrangler was called the Jeep Wrangler, it was called the Willys MB and was commonly referred to as a Jeep. The Willy’s MB was a four-wheel drive utility vehicle created by Willys-Overland in 1941 for use in combat in World War II. ,
Following the Willys MB was the Willys CJ (Civilian Jeep) or Jeep CJ, and it was created in 1945 for civilian use. Jeep’s iconic seven-slot grille that is still used today was first seen on the CJ-2A, but the credit for that grille is actually shared with Ford. In 1942, the Willys MB adapted Ford’s nine-slot grille because it was more cost effective, lighter and easier to produce than the vehicle’s original grille. But eep was unable to get a trademark on this grille for the civilian model, so Willys removed two slots to make it a seven-slot grille and their trademark was approved.
The Willys CJ remained the only model of its kind until 1986, when the Wrangler (also known as YJ) name replaced the CJ series. By this time, the off-road prowess of the Wrangler had become a bit of a lifestyle trend among a group of people and it became thought of as an off-road vehicle. However, now owned by American Motors Company, the new generation of 1986 Wranglers were designed to entice a new audience that would be more likely to use the SUV as a daily driver.
In addition to modifying some exterior equipment to make the 1986 Wrangler more comfortable, designers also replaced the Wrangler’s classic round headlights with square lights. The 1986 Jeep Wrangler was available with two engine options, a 2.5-liter AMC 150 I4 engine or the optional 4.2-liter AMC 258 I6 engine. The strongest engine of the two produced between 177 and 190 horsepower, which is much different than today.
Months after the Wrangler went into production in 1986, the Chrysler Corporation bought the American Motors Company, which included the Wrangler. Though in new hands, Wrangler YJ remained in production until 1995. Then it took a year off and returned to the market as the Wrangler TJ in 1996.
What came back with the Wrangler TJ? It’s original round headlights. Phew! The Wrangler TJ remained in production until 2007, when the Wrangler JK was introduced, and that’s where we are now!
Today, the 2017 Wrangler has just one engine available, and it is a 285 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine. Jeep has improved greatly in regards to safety, technology, and speed since the first YJ model in 1986. However, the wide open body and seven-slot grille that gave the Wrangler it’s long-lasting personality are unchanged, and will likely remain unchanged in the future.
The newest Jeep is of course more technologically advanced. There were none of the fancy electronics like electronic roll mitigation, USB ports or SiriusXM radio that Jeeps have today.
When it comes to off-roading capability has gotten better with time! This is due to the introduction of off-road models like the Rubicon, as well as more technology and off-road systems being developed. This year, the 2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon was released, and is the most capable Wrangler yet. The Recon takes features of the Rubicon and upgrades them to even more capable features (yep, it is possible!). The growth of off-roading technology will sure continue to expand over time.
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Photo source: WardsAuto