Monday, May 20, 2024

JEEP FEST 2021: A Brief History of Jeep in Toledo


John Willys moves the Overland Auto Company from Indianapolis to Central Ave. in Toledo, at the site of the former Pope-Toledo plant. The new company, dubbed Willys-Overland, would be ranked second in nationwide automobile production from 1912-1916.


Willys-Overland bids to produce a new, lightweight truck for the War Department. New chief executive Joseph W. Frazer directs engineer Delmar Roos to improve Willys’ 4-cylinder engine to better handle the kind of pounding such a vehicle would take. Production of the Willys MB vehicle— also known as the “Jeep”— officially begins in 1941. 


By the end of World War II, Willys-Overland manufactures nearly 360,000 Jeep vehicles— over half the total number produced for the war effort. Instead of returning to traditional passenger vehicles, the company begins production of the first Jeeps for civilian usage.


The Jeep Utility Wagon, a station wagon based on the Jeep’s engine and transmission, is released. By the end of 1947, Jeep sales have topped 100,000 vehicles.


After a lengthy application process with several denials, Willys-Overland is finally awarded the trademark on the term “Jeep” on June 13.


Kaiser Motors of Michigan purchases Willys-Overland and officially changes the name to Willys Motor Company. By the end of 1955, the company stops producing passenger cars to focus on making Jeeps exclusively.


The Jeep Gladiator, a full-sized pickup truck, is introduced, as well as the Jeep Wagoneer to replace the Jeep-styled station wagons. In 1963, Willys Motor Company is officially renamed Kaiser-Jeep.


American Motors Corporation purchases Kaiser Jeep from Kaiser Industries for $70 million. The plant is again renamed to Jeep Corp.


Initial plans for a two-and-four door sport utility vehicle take shape at American Motors. The vehicle will eventually be released in 1983 as the XJ Cherokee, Jeep’s first all-new design since the Wagoneer.


Chrysler officially buys American Motor Corporation for $1.5 billion, or over $3.4 billion in 2021 dollars. The Stickney plant is renamed the Toledo Assembly Plant.


Chrysler moves the production of the Wrangler from Canada to the Toledo plant. The Wagoneer ceases production in Toledo.


Construction begins on a new Toledo Jeep plant next to the Stickney plant. Opening in 2001, the new facility produces the Jeep Liberty.


New parent company DaimlerChrysler announces intentions to expand the Toledo Jeep plant to boost production of the Wrangler. The resulting Toledo Supplier Park, which sits on the same site as the original Stickney plant, opens in 2007.


The first Toledo Jeep Fest is held in celebration of the vehicle’s 75th anniversary.


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