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Jeep is a division of the Chrysler Corporation; however, if you delve into the history of Jeep you will learn that there are several different tales of the beginning, even though this jeep division was founded in 1941.
The word jeep was around long before the founding of the automobile marque used by Chrysler. As far back as World War I in 1914 to 1918, the term jeep was used as slang for new recruits as well as for new unproven vehicles. Jeep has been used as slang for all types of vehicles such as a small tractor to an airplane. The way in which many believe the jeep really received its name is that during the time that the first vehicle was being tested at Camp Holabird, many of the civilians present did not know the term jeep was slang for an unproven vehicle. Once they heard the name Jeep used it just stuck. However, there were also other names given to this first vehicle, which included Peep, Pygmy, and Blitz-Buggy.
The general public saw the performance of the jeep in a stunt in which Irving “Red” Haussman drove a Willys-Overland up the steps of the United States Capitol in 1941. Irving had heard the soldier around Camp Holabird call the vehicle a jeep. When Katherine Hillyer of the Washington Daily News the name of the vehicle, Irving immediately stated, “It’s a jeep.”
The first jeep prototype was the Bantam BRC, which was created fro the Department of the Army by American Bantam with two other prototypes from Ford and Willys-Overland. Ford and Willys won out over Bantam as their engine and factory was more equipped to handle a large order.
In 1941, the jeep was Willys, which created the first civilian jeep. Willys then sold the jeep to Kaiser in 1953 when it became known as the Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. In 1970, American Motors purchased Kaisers jeep operations.
Chrysler had their eye on the jeep brand along with other assets held by American Motors. In 1987, Chrysler purchased American Motors. Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998, which formed the new company DaimlerChrysler. However, DaimlerChrysler sold their interests to a private equity company in 2007. Now Chrysler and Jeep are operated under the Chrysler Holding LLC.