Willys-Overland History

The name that’s meant JEEP for decades.

1908 John North Willys buys the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company.
1912 John North Willys renames the Willys Overland Division to Willys-Overland Motor Company.
1936 Coming out of bankruptcy following the Great Depression, the company is reorganized as Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.
1940 Working from a Bantam Car Company design, Willys contracts to build military Jeeps for the war and produces about 360,000 vehicles by 1945.
1945 Willys-Overland begins producing the Civilian Jeep (CJ) line, with the introduction of the CJ2A model.
1946 Production begins on the Willys Jeep Wagon. Over 300,000 are manufactured between 1946 and 1965. Initially the all-steel wagons are only available in a burgundy and cream color scheme, the appearance of which suggested the “Woodie” wagon look typically found on wagons of this era.
1947 Production begins on the Willys Jeep Truck. From 1947 to 1965, more than 200,000 are manufactured.
1948 Production begins on the Willys Jeepster. Only 19,000 vehicles are manufactured from 1948 to 1950.
1949 CJ3A is introduced, and more than 132,000 are made before the production ends in 1953.
1949 Willys Wagons become available with 72 horsepower six cylinder motor, and four wheel drive – thus creating the first “sport utility vehicle”.
1952 Willys CJ3B Jeeps go into production, with a raised hood to accomodate a taller “F” head engine with 25% more horsepower. By 1968, over 155,000 are sold.
1953 Kaiser buys Willys-Overland and changes name to Willys Motor Company.
1954 CJ5 debuts at the start of its three-decade run.
1954 Four wheel drive versions of the Willys Wagons and Trucks are now available with the “Super Hurricane” 115 HP 6 cylinder motor.
1956 Kaiser-Jeep announces the FC-150, a “cab-forward” style pickup truck based on the CJ5 chassis.
1956 Kaiser-Jeep announces the CJ6. Based on the CJ5, the CJ6 has a 20-inch longer wheelbase, adding to the passenger and cargo room. Roughly 50,000 units are produced between 1956 and 1983. The CJ6 proved more popular overseas than in the US, and to this day remains the “forgotten model” between the CJ5 and CJ7.
1957 Kaiser-Jeep announces the FC-170, smiliar to the FC-150 but with a 103.5″ wheelbase and L-head 6 cylinder engine.
1963 Company changes name to Kaiser-Jeep corporation.
1965 Kaiser-Jeep discontinues production of Willys wagons and trucks, retiring the Willys name with the line.
1970 American Motors Corporation takes over Kaiser-Jeep.
1972 CJ5 wheelbase is lengthened to accomodate the AMC straight six engine.
1975 Willys-Overland resurrected as a wholesale/retail parts business.
1983 By the time the last CJ5 rolls off the line in 1983, more than 610,000 of the vehicles have hit the highways in the U.S. and around the world.
1987 American Motors is purchased by the Chrysler Corporation.
1998 Daimler-Benz merges with Chrysler Corporation to form DaimlerChrysler, the fifth largest auto maker in the world.
1998 Willys-Overland Motors started marketing its “Repli-Tub” replacement body…a true bolt-on replacement for both military and civilian Jeeps built from 1941-1986
2001 After 60+ years building Jeeps in the same plant, DaimlerChrysler built a new assembly facility just two miles north on I-75… still in Toledo, of course
2001 The last Cherokee rolled off the assembly line…
2002 Replaced (supposedly) by the Liberty (KJ)
2006 The Jeep Commander (XK) was introduced. And already, in 2007, making news of its possible discontinuation.
2007 A busy year…The completely redesigned Wrangler (JK) is introduced in both a two door, and for the first time ever, four door versions.
2007 Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass (both MK) also make their first appearance
2007 DaimlerChrysler sells an 80% stake in the Chrysler division to Cerberus Capital for a mere $7.4 Billion, creating Chrysler LLC