Posts Tagged jeep cj

Other People’s Cars: Willys Jeep Truck

Willys Jeep TruckPeople in my neck of the woods (that’s not just a figure of speech) drive a lot of trucks, but none quite as awesome as this vintage Jeep. I’ve seen a few of these things in various places, and they always seem to be painted the same shade of green. I don’t have a problem with that.

Willys-Overland built this truck in an effort to capitalize on its purchase of the rights to build Jeeps. Willys and Ford, of course, were the two companies that built military Jeeps during World War II, although the actual design came from the American Bantam Car Co.

After the war, Willys put the Jeep into production as the CJ (Civilian Jeep), and quickly realized that it had a hit on its hands. The SUV boom had begun.

The CJ’s four-wheel drive traction was impressive, but not everyone wanted to drive around in a tiny two-seat convertible with rock-hard suspension. Willys built a slew of Jeep-based vehicles in more conventional body styles to attract more sales.

In addition to the pickup truck pictured here, there was a Willys Jeep Station Wagon and the slightly absurd Jeepster convertible. All three combined the original Jeep’s ruggedly simplistic good looks with a bit of 1950s flair.

Willys Jeep TruckThe Willys Jeep Truck went into production in 1947, but this example appears to be a facelifted 1950-1961 model. These trucks started out with the 134-cubic inch “Hurricane” inline-four; bigger inline-sixes came later.

Willys/Jeep continued making the truck until 1965. Today, if you want a Jeep pickup truck, you’ll have to buy a Wrangler and an aftermarket conversion kit.

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Other People’s Cars: GMC Jimmy

GMC JimmyI was out with my non-smartphone again, so I don’t have a photo of my latest find. So you’ll have to use your imagination to conjure an image of a GMC Jimmy like the one above, but with dark blue paint and blacked-out trim, sitting on Bank Street in New Milford, Connecticut, the same street that was filled with Corvettes for the ending of Mr. Deeds.

The Jimmy was a copy of the Chevrolet Blazer. Like the Chevy, it started out as a shortened two-door pickup with a removable top, making it a de facto SUV. Both models eventually left General Motors’ full-size truck chassis behind, downsizing to the compact Chevy S-10/GMC Sonoma chassis.

The Jimmy had to change over the years as the idea of a convertible SUV fell out of favor (weird, right?), but now that idea is coming back.

Everyone laughed when Nissan came out with the Murano CrossCabriolet, but is it really any more ridiculous than this roofless wonder? The GMC gets a bit of a pass for having genuine off-road capability; it’s following the precedent set by the Jeep CJ and Land Rover Series I.

The Murano is a road-going crossover, so it can’t claim that inspiration. Neither can crossover “coupes” like the BMW X6 and Range Rover Evoque, although the latter at least looks good and has some off-road abilities.

That’s a problem, because removing the “utility” from SUV didn’t work for the Jimmy or its brethren. Vehicles like the Jimmy, Blazer, Ford Bronco, and International Scout were popular because they’re optional tops made them more practical than open-bed pickups trucks.

Once SUVs diverged from pickups and became more refined, the appeal dissipated. That’s why the two-door SUV is nearly extinct.

Will the newer, more car-like crossovers turn this niche around? It’s hard to tell, but the Murano CrossCabriolet definitely won’t look as cool in 45 years as this GMC does now.

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