Jeep History

Jeep Wrangler History: An In-Depth Look into America’s Beloved Off-Roader 

Jeep Wranglers have been in the market dating back to the World War. From being a military vehicle to being a bare-bones off-roader civilian vehicle, the vehicle has clearly stood the test of time. The following is a historical overview of the Wrangler from the first generation models to the most recent fourth generation models.

1.  1941-1945: WILLYS MB

It was not until 1987 when the Wrangler name first appeared, however the Wrangler’s roots go back to 1941.Known as the Willys MB, this was the earliest known Jeep Wrangler. It was produced by Willys- overland who was contracted to make military vehicles for the USA Army during World War II (1941-1945). Only referred to as MB and later nicknamed Jeep, the four-wheel vehicle had a 60-horsepower drive at 4000rpm. The engine used in this car was the Willys L134, which is a 4-inline engine with a 2.2-Liter engine capacity. Funny fact is that the vehicle was considered a Wrangler in 1987, long after its production had ceased.

2.  1945-1954: WILLYS-OVERLAND CJ

This model was produced after the Second World War was over. Produced from 1945 to 1954, the vehicle was made for people in the states hence the initials CJ (civilian Jeep).  It had a 2.2 liter, a 4-inline engine which was similar to that of its predecessor, Willys MB. With its outstanding qualities such as secure fixing, reliability, and durability, many people were drawn to it and this led to the production of CJ-3A and later CJ-3B

3.  1954-1983: WILLYS CJ-5

Production of the CJ-5 begun in 1954 and ended in 1983. It was produced by the vehicle’s new corporate owners, Kaiser Motors. This vehicle had a series of body and engine upgrades. Earlier models featured a Hurricane Willys engine which was a four-straight engine with a capacity of 2.2 liters with a 62 horsepower. In 1965, however, a new 3.7-L V6 dauntless engine with a power of 155 HP was used. The CJ-5 was a success, and Kaiser Motors started thinking of new ways to improve the design toattract more buyers.

In 1961, a trim package, referred to as Tuxedo Park, was introduced. In 1970, corporate ownership was sold to America Motors Corporation, but this did not stop the production of CJ-5 which lasted for more than 30 years!

4.  1976-1986: JEEP CJ-7

Production of this model began in 1976 after acquisition by the American Motors Company and was produced until 1986. The new model was larger compared to the CJ-5(it had a 10-inch longer wheelbase than the CJ-5). It was the last Jeep Wrangler CJ series.

This model had different features such as steel doors, a roof and automatic transmission which were all optional features. This coupled with other features made it a better-quality on-road vehicle. C-7 car initially had an AMC engine 4-cylinder and a capacity of 2.5 liters. Later model engines  were modified with 2 more cylinders adopting a V-shape engine.

5.  1987- 1995: JEEP WRANGLER YJ

With features such as large track width, reduced body roll, and a larger windshield, The YJ was a celebrated model, attracting the attention of many off-roader fans. The initial model had an inline four-cylinder engine with a capacity of 2.5 liters or a six cylinder with a 4.2-liter capacity. Later models, starting from 1991, had an inline six-cylinder engine with a 4.0-liter capacity. Introduction of anti-lock brakes and rear seat belts provides enhanced comfort in the YJ. However, one feature that was unpopular in its design was the squared-off headlights.

6.  1997-2006: JEEP WRANGLER TJ

The TJ was considered an update to the predecessor, the YJ. However, there were new features that were added to this model. It is the first model of Wrangler that had a coil spring suspension replacing leaf spring suspension type.  Another feature that stood out was the introduction of round headlights. The base engine in the TJ was similar to that of YJ until 2003 when they replaced it with a four-cylinder 2.4-liter engine.

7.  2007-2018: JEEP WRANGLER JK

This is the third generation model of the Wrangler. Production of the JK started from 2007 to 2018 and was a total remake of the Wrangler. The new design is larger in both width, length, and its height and is undoubtedly made for comfort. It also has four doors, replacing the 2-door models that were a feature in the previous Wranglers.

The JK had a V-6 engine with a 3.8-liter capacity, with customers choosing from either a 4-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission system. Later models had a 3.6-liter engine with a transmission of either 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic.

The redesign incorporated new and better features that provided the Jeep more comfort and made it more user-friendly. With stability and traction control features, it offers the driver safety when on the road.


The JL is the latest Wrangler in production. It has incorporated more modern technology such as the infotainment system, cross traffic alert, rear parking sensor and many more.  The JL comes in a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine although the V-6 engine is still available. The transmission system is a 6-speed manual with the availability of an 8- speed automatic transmission.

The JL is produced in either convertible 2- door models or 4-door models for each of the trim levels (Rubicon, Sport and Sports S). The Sahara is the only trim produced in a 4-door model.