Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The First Jeep -- A Dodge?

1943 Dodge Weapons Carrier

Jeep in a 1938 artoon

I just found this interesting letter to the editor in a July 1979 Car and Driver.  Sounds like a very plausible explanation and something I would have never guessed! Interestingly, however, the Jeep moniker had a complex origin.  According to one retired G.I. who was there before WWII began, the Jeep moniker had complex origins.  Ralph R. Balestrrieri recalled that  “in much of the regular army and national guards, the Nickname “Jeep” for the Dodge half-ton weapons carrier appeared in late 1939 and was in common use beforehte national guards were called to active duty in September 1940.  The name originated from the animal character Jeep in the cartoon “Popeye the Sailor.” When the Willys quarter-tons started appearing on the scene, the media and Pentagon Chairborne Commandos , apparently corrupting “GP,” incorrectly started calling hem Jeeps. We in the guard and army immediately started calling them “Peeps” because they were baby 4x4s compared with the Dodge half-tons. (The later, amphibious version of the quarter-ton Peep naturally became the “Seep.” We were soon overwhelmed by draftees, and the other services, all of them having been brainwashed into calling the quarter ton Willys the Jeep. Soon the most die-hard among us had to change to be understood, or to continue to punish those who would use the wrong nomenclature until it was understood that you’d better call a quarter-ton a Peep around that crazy S.O.B. of a sergeant or shavetail.  [1]

[1] Ralph R. Balestrieri, letter to editor, Car andDriver, july 1979, p.14

[1] Ralph R. Balestrieri, letter to editor, Car andDriver, july 1979, p.14

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