The Jeep brand name will finally hit the Indian market on September 1. This is nearly four years after it was officially announced by parent company Fiat. One of the most iconic SUV monikers in the world, they will arrive here with the Wrangler and the Cherokee in both standard and high performance SRT format. However, the name Jeep has unofficially existed in India for much longer and has a seen a variety of models being marketed under this very term. In fact just like the way we have a habit of calling photocopy places as Xerox centres, most SUVs are commonly referred to as Jeeps. So how then did this famous name come about into existence?
Birth of the Jeep
The birth of the Jeep came about during the Second World War. As it became clear that America’s participation in the fight that had engulfed Europe was imminent, the need for a vehicle that could traverse the treacherous, war torn roads of Europe was the need of the hour. Being in a tight spot, they issued out an order for a prototype to be developed in just 49 days! The only company that stepped up to the plate was the American Bantam Car Company and freelance designer Karl Probst. The models came through and post approval to expedite things the American Army, which was pretty much the most powerful thing in the country thanks to the war, decided to handout contracts to multiple companies to produce the vehicle and press it into action.
The term Jeep
There are multiple theories as to how term Jeep by itself came to be and here are two that I feel stand the strongest. The first is that the term originated from the animated character Eugene the Jeep, a rather cute looking go anywhere biped that ate orchids and was a pet to Popeye the sailor man. Its funny antics gave the armed forces a good laugh and at the same let them christen this new vehicle the Jeep as it pretty had the ability to go anywhere. The second and a rather more realistic explanation was that the Jeep variant produced by Ford was codenamed the GPW (General Purpose Willys) which eventually just became the acronym Jeep.