The original Jeep, which was instrumental to the US war effort throughout World War II, isn’t just an American icon; it’s loved around the world, and has either inspired or directly spawned numerous off-roaders. The Jeep brand is still alive and well today, too, with a full range of products and swarms of loyal followers.
As such, we share the sentiment expressed by Jalopnik‘s David Tracy in a recent piece: it’s high time that the Jeep brand be honored with a proper museum.
Porsche and Mercedes both have museums in Stuttgart, Germany, Tracy points out. Volkswagen has a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany; Volvo, a museum in Gothenburg, Sweden; and Studebaker and Corvette have museums in Indiana and Kentucky, respectively. Even Hudson has the Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan. So how is it that Jeep – a name so steeped in history, which survived a world war, seven decades, and something like four different corporate owners (Willys, Kaiser, AMC, Chrysler) – still doesn’t have a proper museum?
We can’t say. The most logical place for a Jeep museum, however, is obvious: Toledo, Ohio – home of the original Willys-Overland Jeep MB, the subsequent “CJ” (Civilian Jeep), and countless great Jeep products since. Such a tribute to the American icon is long overdue.
Sure, there likely isn’t a whole lot of money to be made through the typical automotive museum; there are certainly more-profitable causes to which Fiat Chrysler could be contributing its hard-earned capital. But then, the “halo effect” of such a thing is hard to measure, and a proper museum honoring one of America’s most historically significant brands (at a time when SUV sales are still waxing, mind you) could, we suspect, easily pay for itself.
If not, the museum could always purchase a neighboring lot and plot an off-road course, charging $50 a pop to drive it in a Wrangler Rubicon.