The world knows that I have a thing for old Jeeps. So when I came across a video showing the evolution of the Jeep Wrangler (a video that has been shared on a number of other car websites), I knew I had to share it. But I also point out its copious flaws.
Here’s the video, which was posted to YouTube by Donut Media:
The first vehicle shown (see below) in the video appears to be a Bantam BRC-40, the third iteration of Bantam’s government prototypes. It was actually delivered to the Army in 1941, not 1940. The vehicle that Bantam “made in 49 days” (as written at the bottom of the image) in 1940 was not the BRC-40, but rather the original Bantam Pilot (it looked markedly different with its round front fenders), an off-roader whose success led the Army to commission 69 additional MKII (or “BRC-60") vehicles, which looked similar to the BRC-40s, but had round noses.
Oddly, despite the mention of that Bantam BRC (again, the flat nose and also the windshield pivot tells me it’s a BRC-40) and the Ford Pygmy, the Willys Quad and the aforementioned Bantam Pilot car and MKII have been omitted for some reason.
Adding to this, the vehicle in the screenshot below is definitely a Willys MA (very similar to the Quad)—not an MB—based on the door openings and the two transfer case shifters (indicating that this is a column-shift). This is probably just a typo, because the MB is shown in the next scene.
Speaking of column shifts, this 1945 Willys CJ-2A should have one, as the model debuted with “three on the tree.”
Then the video shows the Willys CJ-3A with top bow storage brackets on the side of the tub, just like those on the CJ-2A. These should not be there. I’m also confused why the CJ-3A got a rear bench and the CJ-2A did not, as the bench was optional in both vehicles, which were marketed as agricultural equipment.
Moving on from there, the video is clearly missing the next generation of CJ: the Willys CJ-3B, which replaced the CJ-3A in 1953, and stayed in production for about 15 years. The CJ-3B has a significantly taller hood than the CJ-2A to accommodate the more powerful “F-head” inline-four.
That same engine could be found under the hood of the the military M38-A1, which was adapted in 1954 to become the Willys CJ-5.
The CJ-5 did not initially come with a roll bar like the one shown above, nor did it come with that style of wheels (it should have some basic, narrow steelies).
Speaking of roll bars, the CJ-6 didn’t come with one, either, and it also launched in 1956 with an F-head inline-four, not 1966 with the Buick-sourced Dauntless V6 (and also not with those wagon wheels).
Eventually, the CJ-7 and CJ-8 came along, but in 1987, the CJ name was retired completely and replaced with “Wrangler.” And while much of the new Jeep’s bits were “based on lessons learned when designing the XJ” (per Patrick R. Foster’s Book “Jeep: The History History Of America’s Greatest Vehicle”), it’s a stretch to say the suspension was “borrowed from the Cherokee” (as written at the bottom of the above screenshot).
The Cherokee had coil springs up front, and leaf springs out back suspending the body above an axle with no track bar, whereas the Wrangler had leaf springs at all four corners with track bars front and rear.
The Jeep Wrangler TJ, which debuted in 1997 (the video only shows the ’03 Rubicon), did not have the roll bar (or “sport bar” as Jeep likes to call it) shown in the image above just behind the soft top windows. That’s because, starting in 1992, all Jeep Wranglers came with “family style” roll cages, not the sloping ones found on earlier CJs.
Then there’s the Jeep Wrangler JK, which debuted for the 2007 model year. Oddly, the video shows only the 2011 Wrangler, which got an updated interior from the early JKs, and not the Pentastar V6 engine or A580 five-speed automatic that came just a year later in 2012.
So yes, this video that’s making rounds on all of your favorite car websites is a lot of fun to watch, but it’s littered with inaccuracies and omissions (admittedly I may be picking some nits on some of these). So just keep that in mind as you marvel over the Wrangler’s glorious history.