Back in 1941, when Willys-Overland started making Jeeps, there was no such thing as “SUVs”. The first Jeep wasn’t really sold, it was issued. Their main “customers” were the US Army and its Allied Forces.
Three auto manufacturers answered the US Army’s plan with their prototypes. They were American Bantam Car Company, Willys-Overland and Ford. After several prototype proposals from all three companies, Willys-Overland’s “Quad” prototype was selected (some features of the other two companies’ prototypes were included in the final design). During the above mentioned war, 600,000 Jeeps were built.
The name Jeep is actually the slurring of the acronym “GP” (General Purpose) and when more of the general public get to see the vehicle in the media, due to the war, it became synonymous with it and soon became a universal term.
Photo credit: The World’s Greatest Sport Utility Vehicles by Giles Chapman