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How Willys Jeeps Inspired the Jeep Wrangler

At Army Jeep Parts, we love providing MV services to our customers because we love playing a vital role in the Jeep community. Wranglers are among the most popular rides in our beloved community, so we decided to take a minute to reflect and trace the Wrangler’s lineage back to its original inspiration: The Willys MB. Keep reading to find out why the Jeep Wranglers of today wouldn’t exist without its Willys MB ancestor.

Civilian Jeeps

The very first batch of Willys CJ Jeeps hit the market in May of 1945. This early Civilian Jeep model carried the spare tire on the side of the car, instead of in the tailgate like in today’s models. However, other than that one detail, the Wrangler and the original CJ Jeeps have a striking resemblance.


In 1980, the CJ Jeep’s image was tainted by a phony 60 Minutes segment that showed how the CJ could roll over. Four of the eight rollovers (out of 435 total trials) happened to the same Jeep, which means the issue was probably with that specific Jeep’s tires. But the damage was already done, and it was irreversible. Jeep had no choice but to address the public’s concerns.

The First Wrangler

The year was 1986, and the very first Jeep Wrangler YJ introduced itself to the world at the widely-acclaimed Chicago Auto Show. You know the distinct roll bars you see on wranglers today? Those were added onto the Jeep to quell the public’s hysteria over the misleading 60 Minutes broadcast about CJ Jeeps rolling over.

Wranglers in 2019

When you see Willy’s MBs for sale today, it’s easy to spot the similarities they share with their 21st Century Wrangler relatives. The Wrangler JL is the youngest and newest Wrangler model, and, to nobody’s surprise, it’s far more advanced than the original CJ Jeeps. However, the purpose of the Wrangler has always been to tow that fine line between off-road mudding machine and everyday driving vehicle — which it does perfectly.


Contact Us For Help With Army Jeep Builds, Repairs, and More

Working on vintage Civilian Jeep from the late 1940’s or 1950’s? Already have one up and running, but need a reliable source for maintenance services? Army Jeep Parts has the equipment and the know-how to help you get that CJ-machine running — and keep it running. Give us a shout if you need help restoring or repairing your Army Jeep!