Time Travel Through History in the Jeep Willys

July 13th, 2023 by

A green 1942 Jeep Willys MB is shown from the rear at an angle on an ocean shore.

Remakes are rarely ever as good as the original. The problem is capturing the nostalgia of what came before and finding a way to do it again, only differently. That’s why, rather than remaking the original, Jeep chose to be inspired by it. If you spot the new 2024 Jeep Wrangler Willys here at Dan Cummins Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Paris, your local Jeep dealer, it may spark a sense of familiarity but, at the same time, show a glimpse into the future of Jeep.

The redesigned 2024 Jeep Wrangler has no shortage of new and exciting features designed to make you drool. However, it is the Jeep Wrangler Willys that takes those new ideas and throws in a nod to the “OG,” consequently taking us back in time to the start of it all. It was more than eighty years ago that the first Willys made its appearance, starting us on the road to the latest and greatest in the Jeep lineup.

The Willys MB, the Civilian Jeep, and the Jeepster

In 1940, war was imminent, and there was a need for a vehicle that could handle the rough road ahead. In a blink of an eye, Willys-Overland produced the very first “Jeep”––officially known as the Willys MB. The prototype enlisted a 4×4 system to tackle rough terrain, big meaty tires, and the iconic blocky body that would forever signal adventure.

Over time, the Willys MB changed and evolved, eventually becoming the CJ or “Civilian Jeep.” With wartime in its rearview mirror, the heroic Jeep was re-tasked with aiding farmers and workers. The jump to civilian life was an important step in the evolution that would eventually bring us to the 2024 Jeep Wrangler Willys.

In the mid-1940s, the Jeep CJ received a makeover becoming the Jeepster. A sports car version of a Jeep, the Jeepster is highly collectible today and a great example of the creativity and versatility enabled by Jeep. However, this new styling didn’t mean the end of the line for the Willys. Instead, it only added to the robust Jeep lineup.

A yellow 1973 Jeep Wrangler CJ-5 is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a Jeep dealer.

The CJ and the Wrangler: A Tale as Old as Time

The CJ would see many changes over the years, eventually leading the way to the Wrangler. One important change to be made to the CJ line was the introduction of the CJ-3B in 1953. A more powerful version of the classic Jeep, the CJ-3B was very successful and stayed in production for fifteen years. It led the way to the CJ-5, a refined version of the Jeep that was larger, stronger, and all-around better for the everyday driver.

Eventually, the Jeep brand would land in the hands of AMC, one of the many businesses that took a crack at the potentially cursed car company. If you know about the Jeep curse, then you know that many companies have fallen victim to it. The original Willys-Overland was merged with Kaiser Motors in the 1950s, only for the renamed Kaiser Jeep to be bought out by AMC in 1970. The curse would see company owners throw up their hands in defeat and financial hardship despite offering a product that was literally making history.

It was in the hands of AMC that the CJ-5 would receive a shiny new V8 and some updated technology to match. One such piece of technology was a Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential, a feature that would be carried over to the larger CJ-7 (the CJ-6 was another take on a stretched Jeep but never really took off). Fitted with an automatic transmission, the CJ-7 was a truly extraordinary vehicle that honored and improved upon previous generations.

Finally, in 1987, the Jeep Wrangler was born. Although it was quite a change from the original CJ lineup, it still managed to embody everything the Jeep stood for. However, it was this new take on the original that would usher in a change of ownership once again. The struggling AMC was sold to Chrysler, which took the historical Jeep line to new heights. One factor in Chrysler’s success was the development of the Jeep Wrangler.

The Jeep Wrangler hit the roads ready to inspire adventure and equipped with plenty of off-road gadgets and know-how to conquer anything that was thrown at it. With upgraded suspension, improved dimensions, and killer style, the Wrangler pointed Chrysler and Jeep in the right direction. The new model was a massive hit and showed that the Jeep could survive. The door was open for further expansion to the Wrangler line, resulting in a community of Jeep enthusiasts.

A grey 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Willys is shown from the front at an angle.

The Jeep Wrangler of Today

The 2024 Jeep Wrangler Willys is a special amalgamation of heroic history and innovation. From the outside, the Wrangler Willys looks sleek and modern but has more than a hint of the past. The iconic rounded headlamps, squared wheel wells, seven-slot grille, and elongated hood are all elements we can see from past generations. The Willys trim even features Willys badging, a fun throwback to the past.

The 2024 Wrangler is equipped with a powerful V6 engine that produces 285 hp. The V6 is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and is fitted with a Tru-Lok locking rear differential in the Willys. Designed to handle the rough road ahead, the Wrangler is a master of traction, utilizing its standard 4×4 capabilities to get the most out of the vehicle.

The Jeep Wrangler Willys is Trail Rated and ready to forge ahead. Improved ground clearance, exceptional approach and departure angles, and a tight turning radius make it easy to maneuver through rough and rugged terrain. The Wrangler is even designed to take to the water. With strategically placed components and waterproofing, the Wrangler can wade through nearly three feet of water with ease.

New additions like rock rails and skid plates address modern driver needs, as does the technology that fills the Wrangler. New for 2024, a standard 12.3-inch color touchscreen provides easy access to important features that are used both on and off the road. Extras like wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto make sure that every adventure is a connected one. There is even an available Wi-Fi hotspot option, definitely an addition from the present but one we are happy to see.

Learning From the Past to Improve the Future

With so many fantastic features on the 2024 Wrangler, it can be easy to forget that these advancements would not have happened without past innovations. Trying to create a revolutionary wartime vehicle resulted in a tough and enduring model that has continued to influence the automotive world for close to a century. The push for more power resulted in new styling and the use of more powerful engine components. The need for both military and civilian use inspired a system that could handle varying terrain, and the shift to civilian life encouraged designers to include more seating and a roomier, more comfortable interior.

Every problem over the years has resulted in a solution that has led us to the latest Jeep Wrangler Willys, a wonderful combination of past and present. You don’t have to live in the past to celebrate it, and the Wrangler Willys is proof of that. The Willys changed the war, the Wrangler changed the automotive world, and the 2024 Wrangler Willys might just change the way you drive.


Posted in Jeep Dealer