Willys-Overland Motors was an American automobile manufacturer that earned its place in the history books through its design and production of both military and civilian Jeeps. In preparation for the Second World War, Willys produced military Jeeps, known as MBs, based on a prototype designed American Bantam. The Jeep name and design would later become an American icon of off-road travel.
Willys began production of the MB in 1941 alongside American Bantam and Ford, who labeled their variation of the prototype as the GPW. By the end of the war, 359,851 Jeeps had been produced, prompting Willys to patent the Jeep trademark and begin production of the Civilian Jeep, the CJ-2A in 1945.
Willys continued to produce consumer Jeeps in the postwar years despite the fact that the CJ-2A was initially poorly received. However, Willys soon found a market for the off-road vehicle amongst farmers, ranchers, and hunters. In 1946, Willys released the Jeep Utility Wagon followed by the Jeep Utility Truck in 1948. Prior to its purchase in 1953 by Kaiser Motors, Willys released several new Jeeps including a new military model, the M38, and a two-wheel drive civilian model, the Jeepster. The famous CJ5 was released in 1954, which would be the last Jeep produced under the Willys label. In 1963, Kaiser Motors changed its name to the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation, and the name Willys disappeared.