Willys-Overland Motors History (1908)
|Genre||Military Jeeps (MBs) and civilian versions (CJs)|
|Headquarters||Toledo, Ohio, United States|
Willys-Overland Motors was an American automaker that sold its vehicles under the brand names Willys, Aero-Willys, Overland and Jeep .
In 1908, John North Willys renamed it to Willys-Overland Motor Company after buying Overland Automotive Division from the Standard Wheel Company .In 1913, Willys acquired a license to the Knight engines and manufactured vehicles under the name Willys-Knight . By the Mid-1920s, he also bought the FB Stearns Company in Cleveland, and built cars of the brand Stearns-Knight .
In 1914 the Electric Auto-Lite Company and in 1915 the Russell Motor Car Company in Ontario ( Canada ) was added, in 1917 John N. Willys founded the Willys Corporation as a holding company. In 1919 he acquired the Duesenberg -Werk in Elizabeth (New Jersey) . Here, Willys had a new model developed independently of other corporate influences, the Willys Six-89 . The engineers behind this project were Owen Skelton , Carl Breer and Fred Zeder who had previously worked at Studebaker and later key positions at Chrysleroccupied. In 1918, Willys-Overland acquired the majority of shares in the Moline Plow Company .
The plant in Elizabeth was replaced by a larger one in which the Six-89 was to be made. It did not come to that, the recession forced the Willys Corporation to its knees. The Chase National Bank as the main creditor then commissioned Walter P. Chrysler in 1919 to revise the corporate and model obsession. Chrysler had previously been president of General Motors ' Buick Division . Walter Chrysler was transferred in 1922 the renovation of Maxwell-Chalmers . Meanwhile, the work came in Elizabeth including the prototype of Willy's Six-89under the hammer. Chrysler bid for Maxwell, but the contract went to his former boss William C. Durant who had meanwhile had to leave General Motors and set up a new corporation employing Durant Motor Corporation . Durant's reasonably priced Star car was to be built in this factory . From the Willys prototype Durant wanted to develop a Buick competitors. This required a larger and heavier vehicle. According to these specifications, the vehicle was heavily revised, made ready for production and came out in 1923 as a flint . Walter Chrysler brought Skelton , Breer and cedarto Chalmers, letting her refine the original design. After successful renovation Walter Chrysler took over the company. Almost four years after the completion of the Willys Six-89, in January 1924, it was unveiled in a slightly modified form as the Chrysler Six Model B-70 and was an immediate success.
1926 ended the production of Overland models; instead, the Whippet was built. After the stock market crash in 1929 followed the global economic crisis , some Willys car brands were therefore set. Stearns-Knight was liquidated in 1929. The manufacture of the Whippet ended in 1931; he was replaced by the models Willys Six and Willys Eight . The Willys Knight was set in 1933.
Willys adjusted his model program and decided to produce only two new models, the four-cylinder Willys 77 and the six-cylinder Willys 99. After the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, only the Willys 77 was built. It had to sell its Canadian subsidiary, which was also in poor financial shape, and began a major reorganization. After that, only the main plant in Toledo and a few smaller factories belonged to Willys-Overland. The remainder was sold to a newly established real estate company, from which Willys-Overland leased some properties. So the company could survive the difficult times.
In 1936, the Willys-Overland Company was renamed Willys-Overland Motors . In the 1920s and 1930s, Willys-Overland was one of many small automakers in the US. Willys-Overland also applied for the US Department of War when it came to finding automakers that could quickly build a light commercial vehicle based on the American Bantam- designed prototype.
In 1938, Joseph W. Frazer left Chrysler and took over the leadership of Willys-Overland. He immediately tried to improve the products and expand the activities into other business areas. One of them was the all-terrain Willys MB , later known as the Jeep . Another task was to improve the four-cylinder engine so that it could withstand the difficult conditions that the Willys MB would be exposed to. Production of the Willys MB began in 1941 with 8,598 units, and by the end of the Second World War , 359,851 copies were built, to which a similar number came under license from Ford.
After the war, Willys stopped producing pre-war cars and focused on building jeeps and vehicles based on them. The first postwar vehicle was the Jeep CJ-2A , a Willys MB without the typical military details, such as the taillight, and with a rear door.
Willys fought for a market for the unusual vehicle and tried to sell it as a tractor to the farmers. Tractors were not made in wartime and therefore hard to get. Nevertheless, the Agri-Jeep sold poorly, mainly because the vehicle was too light to provide sufficient traction.
However, the CJ-2A was one of the first civilian vehicles to be factory fitted with four-wheel drive. He became popular with farmers, ranchers, hunters, and other people who needed a light vehicle for dirt roads and rough roads.
In 1946, a year after the introduction of the CJ-2A, Willys produced the Jeep Wagon , which was equipped with the same drive and styling influenced by the CJ-2A. Next came the jeep truck with four-wheel drive. In 1948, there was also the four-wheel drive for the Wagon, which made him a pioneer of today's SUVs .
Willys also later introduced the Jeep M38 for the US Army and continued the Jeep CJ series . Another variant of the Jeep was the Jeepster . As a tamer version, it was available with four- or six-cylinder engine and only with rear-wheel drive.
From 1951, Willys again participated in the car market with the new "compact car" Willys Aero . First, there was this vehicle only as a two-door with side or counter-clocked six-cylinder engine. Abroad, the Aero was also available with the four-cylinder engine (from the Jeep CJ). From 1953 there were also four-door, a hardtop coupe and taxi executions.
In 1953, Willys-Overland was bought by Kaiser Motors and changed its name to Willy's Motor Company .
World War II and the Jeep
Willys-Overland was one of several bidders when the War Department sought an auto maker that could begin rapid production of a lightweight truck based on a design by American Bantam.
Production of the Willys MB, better known as Jeep, began in 1941, shared between Willys, Ford and American Bantam. 8,598 units were produced that year, and 359,851 units were produced before the end of World War II. Willys-Overland ranked 48th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts. In total, 653,568 military Jeeps were manufactured. The origin of the name "Jeep" has been debated for many years. Some people believe "Jeep" is a phonetic pronunciation of the abbreviation GP, from "General Purpose", that was used as part of the official Army nomenclature. The first documented use of the word "Jeep" was the name of a character Eugene the Jeep in the Popeye comic strip, known for his supernatural abilities (e.g., walking through walls). It was also the name of a small tractor made by Minneapolis-Moline before World War II. Whatever the source, the name stuck and, after the war, Willys filed a successful trademark claim for the name.
After the war Willys did not resume production of its passenger car models, choosing instead to concentrate on Jeeps and Jeep-based vehicles. The first post-war Willys product was the CJ-2A. The CJ-2A was an MB stripped of obviously military features, particularly the blackout lighting, and with the addition of a tailgate.
Willys initially struggled to find a market for the vehicle, first attempting to sell it primarily as an alternative to the farm tractor. Tractors were in short supply, having been out of production during the war. However, sales of the "Agri-Jeep" never took off, mainly because it was too light to provide adequate draft.
The CJ-2A was among the first civilian vehicles of any kind to be equipped with four-wheel drive from the factory, and it gained popularity among farmers, ranchers, hunters, and others who needed a lightweight vehicle for use on unimproved roads and trails.
In 1946, a year after the introduction of the CJ-2A, Willys produced the Willys "Jeep" Utility Wagon based on the same engine and transmission, with clear styling influence from the CJ-2A Jeep. The next year came a "Jeep" Utility Truck with four-wheel drive. In 1948, the wagon was available in four-wheel drive, making it the ancestor of all sport utility vehicles.
Willys planned to re-enter the passenger car market in 1947 with the Willys 6-70 sedan. Its name came from the fact it was powered by a 6-cylinder engine that produced 70 hp. The 6-70 was touted as the first stock car in America that offered independent suspension on all four wheels, but it never entered production.
In 1948 under a contract from the US Army Willys produced a small one-man four-wheeled utility vehicle called the Jungle Burden Carrier which evolved into the M274 Utility ½-ton vehicle.
Willys later produced the M38 Jeep for the U.S. Army, and continued the CJ series of civilian Jeeps. One variation was the Jeepster, which came with a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engine but only with two-wheel drive to the rear.
In 1952 Willys re-entered the car market with a new compact car, the Willys Aero. At first available only as a two-door sedan, it was available with either an L-head or F-head six-cylinder engine. Export markets could get the Aero with a four-cylinder engine. A four-door sedan and a two-door hardtop were added for 1953 along with taxi models. The Aero cars were called Lark, Wing, Falcon, Ace or Eagle depending on year, engine and trim level, except for a small production run in its final year (1955) with models called Custom and Bermuda. The bodies for the Willys Aero were supplied by the Murray Body company, which also made the bodies for the short-lived Hudson Jet. Also in 1952, CJ3B Jeeps went into production. By 1968, over 155,000 were sold.
In 1953 Kaiser Motors purchased Willys-Overland and changed the company's name to Willys Motor Company. The same year, production of the Kaiser car was moved from Willow Run, Michigan, to the Willys plant at Toledo, Ohio. Although Jeep production was steady, sales of the Willys and Kaiser cars continued to fall. Willys established an assembly plant in Brazil in 1953, after the government prohibited the import of assembled vehicles as part of an import substitution program. In 1954, the CJ5 debuted at the start of its three-decade run.
After the last Willys passenger car was built in 1955, Willys shipped the Aero's tooling to Brazil, where it was built from 1960 to 1962, almost unchanged. Brooks Stevens restyled the Aero for 1963, and it was built by Ford(which bought the Willys factory) until the 1970s.
In American the company changed its name in 1963 to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation; the Willys name disappeared thereafter.
Willys-Overland established its Brazilian operations in 1953, just before the Kaiser-Frazer takeover.The tooling for the Aero went to Brazil, where it entered production in 1960. In 1956-1957 Brazil's Executive Group for the Automotive Industry (GEIA) had approved Willys-Overland for production of the Aero, the Willys MB Jeep, a truck version of the Jeep called the Rural, and the French Renault Dauphine small car. The Aero-Willys replaced an earlier plan by a company called Chrysler-Willys do Brasil S.A. to build the 1956 Plymouth Savoy there. The Dauphine was a result of Kaiser's Renault connection, and was produced by Willys do Brasil from 1959 until 1968. Willys held a market share of around 30 per cent in Brazil from 1960 until 1966, its last full year as an independent, mostly Brazilian-owned company.
In 1962 Willys started building the French Alpine A108 as the Willys Interlagos. It was produced until 1966 and was the first Brazilian-made sports car. It was also the car in which many Brazilian racers cut their teeth, including greats such as Emerson Fittipaldi. Willys also designed and showed a larger sports car called the "Capeta" (Devil) in 1964, powered by the 2.6 litre six-cylinder Aero engine.In 1965 Willys Overland do Brasil and Renault began collaborating on a new front-wheel drive car, called "Project M" and meant to replace the aging Dauphine. Developed in parallel with the Renault 12, which it pre-dated, the car eventually saw light as the Ford Corcel. Early Corcels had "Willys" stamping in the glass, and the Corcel line (which continued in production until 1997 as the Ford Pampa) always showed its French origins in its characteristic three-bolt wheels. In 1967 Ford took a controlling interest in Kaiser and thereby gained control of Willys-Overland do Brasil.
The Aero-based Itamaraty continued in production until the early 1970s, in latter years wearing "Ford" badges. Dauphine production ended in 1968, but the Willys Rural/Pickup and its derivatives were built as the Ford F-75 until 1983. The only visual difference is that the post-1970 cars have a tailgate with "Ford" rather than "Jeep" stamped in it. There was also a military version of the Jeep Pickup, called the F-85.
Kaiser-Jeep was sold to American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1970 when Kaiser Industries decided to leave the automobile business. After the sale, AMC used engines it had developed for its other cars in Jeep models to improve performance and standardize production and servicing.
Renault purchased a major stake in AMC in 1979 and took over operation of the company, producing the CJ series until 1986. Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987 after the CJ had already been replaced with the Jeep Wrangler (also known as the YJ and later TJ), which had little in common with the CJ series other than outward appearance. The Jeep marque, owned by DaimlerChrysler and later Fiat, produces Jeep vehicles at a new Toledo Complex.
DaimlerChrysler introduced the Overland name for a trim package on the 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The badging is a recreation of the Overland nameplate from the early twentieth century.
Overland Model 91 Touring 1923