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Army Jeeps

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Army Jeeps

jeep starThe origin of the word “Jeep” is still being debated today. Some argue that the word was actually a phonetic slurred from the words Government Purposes or General Purpose. GP is what Ford called the vehicles. The “G” stood for government use and the “P” designated the vehicle’s 80 inch wheelbase. GP does appear in some of the early Army jeep manuals, but it’s hard to say if the typical jeep-driving GI had access to the manual.

Other jeep aficionados say that the soldiers were so excited and impressed with these new vehicles that they nicknamed them after Eugene the Jeep, who was a character in the popular cartoon series Popeye. Eugene could go anywhere. A Dictionary of military slang published in 1942 defines the vehicle as Jeep: a four-wheel drive one half to one-and-one half ton capacity vehicle for reconnaissance or other army duty. The term also applied to Bantam-cars and to other motor vehicles in the armed forces.

The Jeep got public exposure in 1941 when an article including a picture was published nationally. It introduced the jeep as the army’s new scout cars that could go anywhere. The picture showed the jeep climbing up the Capitol steps with a senator driving and congressman in the passenger’s seat. The Willys-Overland Company was later awarded the exclusive registered trademark “Jeep.” The nation fell in love with the name
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