Friday, July 9, 2010

Jeep Station Wagon, 1946

Jeep Station Wagon, 1946

When it appeared in dealers' showrooms in the summer of 1946, the Jeep Station Wagon was an immediate hit. Not only was it one of the first all-new postwar vehicles to be produced, it was attractive, affordable, and perhaps most importantly, utilitarian - a vehicle appealing to the eye and the pocketbook, yet useful for a wide variety of tasks. Its compact 104-inch wheelbase allowed it to be driven and parked almost anywhere, and yet its interior provided seating for seven, with all but the driver's seat made removable for cargo-hauling. In fact, with the rear seats removed, 96 cubic feet of cargo capacity became available, and the 50-inch interior height permitted transportation of especially tall items, something unthinkable in most cars of the era. For the first time the station wagon, previously considered by many a near-luxury vehicle, was being produced as a striking, low-cost family car - and quickly accepted.

The Jeep Station Wagon was ruggedly dependable. Roos had provided a front suspension that resembled the "planar" suspension he developed for Studebaker in the Thirties; it utilized a seven-leaf transverse spring rather than conventional coil springs. The powertrain featured the Willys four-cylinder "Go-Devil" engine, augmented in the 1948 model year by a Roos-designed six-cylinder "Lightning" engine. Even more significant was the introduction of four-wheel drive models in 1949, beginning an association of that technology and cargo-carrying passenger vehicles that has been a hallmark of the Jeep brand ever since.

Correctly described as "One of the most influential automobiles ever built," the Jeep Station Wagon was produced through the early 1960s, then succeeded by the Jeep Wagoneer and subsequent Jeep sport-utility vehicles. Each of these Jeep vehicles has elevated the sport-utility concept to a higher level of comfort, performance and utility. But they all owe their success to the design of the slab-sided Jeep Station Wagon, first sketched by Brooks Stevens on a winter day in Toledo more than sixty years ago.


Post a Comment