Jeep 75th: NZ included in celebratory military manoeuvre

The brand that claims to have been born on the battlefields of dubbya-dubbya deuce is creating a series of special editions to celebrate its beginnings.


JEEP’S New Zealand agent has begun its recruitment drive for special celebration models tailored to evoke memory of the brand’s wartime roots.

Incoming in the second half of the year are range-wide special editions created to celebrate that 2016 is the 75 years after the first Jeep was created, to answer a call of duty by America’s Defence Department, which had requested America’s automakers to come up with lightweight and robust battlefield scout car.

Auckland-domiciled Fiat Chrysler New Zealand has confirmed that New Zealand is among the countries on Jeep’s battle plan for the diamond anniversary range.

However, while citing that all current Jeep products have heeded the call of duty to be part of the special force, it has not yet divulged the exact timing of the invasion or the pricing.

From what information has been given, it appears that only the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited – among all the modern Jeeps the models that maintains closest visual cues to the first wartime buggy – will adopt significant mechanical revision, in adopting heavier-duty off-roading gear.

For the remainder – Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Patriot, Compass and the new baby of the range, Renegade, that launches within a month or so – it’s more a matter of simply outfitting with special trims and badges.

And colours. The hero hues are definitely warpaints. Jeep has called up three shade of green, all with slightly chintzy militaristic names – ‘Sarge Green’ for Wrangler, Recon Green (Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Patriot and Compass) and Jungle Green (Renegade).

The specials also take wheels in a low gloss bronze hue and have bronze and orange exterior accents, with special 75th anniversary badges.

The interiors also go gung-ho. Jeep NZ has described “exclusive seats with embossed 75th Anniversary logo or one-of-a-kind Ombre Mesh fabric.”

“There is no better way to mark 75 years of Jeep leadership than with a special edition of each of the models that wear the legendary Jeep name in 2016,” said David Smitherman, Fiat Chrysler New Zealand’s chief excecutive says.

“Therefore we are pleased to confirm that these special editions with be the centre piece of our celebrations of Jeep’s 75th birthday in New Zealand and that they will arrive in the second half of 2016.”

Though the Wrangler’s treatment reaches to the slightly farcical with a ‘75th anniversary grab handle’, it also gets serious with Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tyres, unique off-road rock rails, a rear locker, the Command-Trac 4x4 transfer case with 2.72:1 ratio, Dana 30 front axle and heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle and a 3.21 or optional 3.73 axle ratio.

Interestingly, the special Wrangler also avails in civvy colours like black, sand, white and silver.

Jeep was born in about March 1941 when the United States military placed its first order for the Willys MA – the rugged, utilitarian all-wheel-drive vehicle that thousands of American GIs would affectionately dub Jeep. 

The origins of the Jeep nickname are disputed, with many pundits arguing that it came from the “general purpose” (GP) designation for the vehicle, and others suggesting it was named after a character from Popeye cartoons.

Whatever the origins, Jeep became part of American lore.