Willys-Overland History

The name that’s meant JEEP for decades

Willys-Overland Timeline

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