Although Jeep is one of America’s biggest automotive brand names and home to its largest market there can be few people around the rest of world who don’t know the name which is associated with off-roading. In fact I could go as far as saying that Jeep is as synonymous as Hoover is to vacuuming or Xerox to photocopying if I may be so bold.
Jeep’s history goes back some sixty years which is longer than its only real contender the British Land Rover coming in a close second for longevity. Most people are aware of the fact that the Jeep was born out of the requirement by the American military to produce a “go anywhere” light-weight reconnaissance vehicle. The need to produce something quickly was great as the war in Europe was already under way. The role of the Jeep during the Second World War cannot be overstated and in fact General Dwight D.Eisenhower himself cited the Jeep as being one of the most important tools at the US army’s disposal and was a major contribution to the allied victory.
It is a fact of life that many every day things that we now take for granted were originally developed for military use including such things as satellite navigation without which where would we be? Who knows how to navigate with a map and compass these days!
My parents have recently moved to a smaller house and regrettably have realised that a lot of the junk that was residing in their loft actually belongs to me. Quite cleverly under the guise of a luncheon invitation I was invited around for one of my Mother’s delicious Sunday roast dinners only to be confronted with a large pile of my old belongings to sort through. Most of the stuff I had long since forgotten about and I was beginning to get bored looking at loads of naff 80’s and 90’s items (with the possible exception of a Baywatch calendar, well I was a big fan of the Hoff!) Suddenly though I found a box of toy cars from my childhood days. This was more like it, there was a treasure trove of model cars from the past including a De Tomaso Pantera and a Ferrari 512 BB. Then all of a sudden there it was! My old military Jeep, looking slightly battered with the spare wheel missing, for which I blame my sister in committing an act of retribution for me once beheading one of her Barbie dolls.
It was amazing though sitting there with all those childhood memories coming back to me as I looked at my old Jeep. I hadn’t seen it for nearly thirty years but as I held this old bit of greyish metal in my hand it was as if it was only yesterday I was winning the war in Europe (in the back garden of my parent’s house of course).
Many years later I had an experience with a Jeep that I would rather forget. I was camping with some friends and we were all slightly the worse for wear the next morning after a long night of making merry, when someone thought it would be highly amusing to start up their V8 Jeep right next to the tent where I was sleeping off a hangover. The result was somewhat deafening as the flimsy bit of canvas did little to insulate the roar of this thing which was effectively about an inch away from my head. I must admit I found it far from amusing and after this rude awakening emerged from my tent uttering a few choice words. It succeeded in making everyone else laugh and to this day “The Jeep Story” evokes thoughts of happy days.