There are many automakers that helped to push the industry forward by producing cars that were similar to other that were currently on the market with slight improvements, such as additional features or faster speeds. However, there are a few that actually brought something entirely different to the marketplace, and one of these is the Willys company, who wound up developing and manufacturing one of the most important cars in history: the Jeep. But their history started long before the introduction of that durable workhorse.
The Willys-Overland Company was an early automaker long before the Jeep, and they built quite a business in the early days. They began their steady ascent in 1912, and by 1918 the Willys trailed only the Ford Motor Company in sales of motor vehicles in the United States. Willys expanded into the 1920s, but the Great Depression took its toll across the industry, and Willys was restructured with the help of Walter Chrysler.
The famed Jeep, which was formally called the Willys MB, went into production in 1941, and it played a huge role in the allied efforts during World War II. Willys engineering paved the way for the modern era of four-wheel-drive vehicles and SUVs, and many classics are in significant demand today, like the old Whippet Model 96A, the Aero, and the Willy Jeep CJ-2A.