Defense Contractor Plans Willys Jeep Successor Based on Wrangler

2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition 1 photo
Photo: Jeep
We don't know about you, but for many of us - especially here in Europe - Jeep equals US Army. Basic, rugged, no-nonsense workhorse. Because Hollywood took care of that.
That image is so immovably stuck in our heads that even over 50 years after a Jeep carried on-duty military personnel for the last time, we're still looking at the Wrangler as a civilian version of the Willys. Well, a North Carolina defense contractor is planning to bring our nostalgic vision back to the present.

According to Associated Press, as quoted by The Detroit News, Hendrick Dynamics have an ongoing project based on the Wrangler, which they hope will convince the Government. The Army is supposedly looking for a cheap, lightweight, all-terrain, unarmored vehicle that can be parachuted into conflict areas anywhere in the world. So, basically, the same thing it was looking for in 1940 when it issued standard specifications required for a light reconnaissance vehicle and submitted them to American automakers.

Although the present-day project has just taken off, the Charlotte-based company has already developed and built 12 modified Jeep Wrangler prototypes.

"We’ve got a really good opportunity to deliver to the Army a highly capable platform at a significantly reduced cost," said Marshall Carlson, general manager of Hendrick Dynamics. "One of the best points of the project is you’re starting with such an incredibly capable vehicle which comes right off the line in Toledo."

Neither Fiat Chrysler nor the Army has made any comments on the subject, but a DefenseNews newspaper report from September 2015 claims that the Government will issue a formal request for proposals by the end of this year. Hendrick Dynamics favors using the Wrangler because it's a production vehicle and thus offers an international, developed service and parts network.

Over 360,000 "Jeeps" were built by Willys for the Army during World War II, between 1941 and 1945. A few decades down the line, but still in Toledo, Ohio, Fiat Chrysler built over 240,000 Wranglers in 2015.
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