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The Car That Persevered Through Tough Times, Rugged Terrains, and World Wars

A 2019 used Jeep Wrangler is driving on a tree-lined road.

So you want to know more about one of the most recognizable vehicles in the world? Then get ready for a tale that spans almost a century, because the Jeep Wrangler is a legendary vehicle that is worth knowing about. Even used Jeep Wranglers hold their value incredibly well because of their legendary reputation and enviable aesthetic. Whether off-roading or cruising, it’s difficult to argue against how great Wranglers are. The Wrangler has a unique history that is as interesting as its iconic look that will leave you with even more appreciation than ever before for the model. Whether you are looking to buy or are simply here for information, here’s all you need to know to be a wiz on the Jeep Wrangler.

History of the Jeep Wrangler

As most people know at this point, the Jeep Wrangler was not originally civilian-based, but instead a military reconnaissance vehicle. In 1940, Europe was under quite a bit of stress as the second World War ramped up. The United States recognized that future confrontation could be on the horizon. With this in mind, the US Army asked over 100 manufacturers to submit blueprints for prototypes of a lightweight 4WD reconnaissance vehicle. The weight requirement for the vehicle was much lighter than the average vehicles being produced at the time. V6 and V8 engines reigned supreme, so only two manufacturers ended up submitting their designs.

One was Willys Overland; the other was American Bantam Car Company. Bantam ended up winning the contract originally, but the company over-promised and could not deliver, as it was too small to produce on the scale that was required by the US Army at the time. Willys Overland then teamed up with Ford to produce these military vehicles and secured the contract.

Willys improved on the Bantam design. Ultimately adding a more powerful engine with plenty of torque. And that exact focus on torque has followed the Jeep line all the way up to Jeep Wranglers today, which make new and used Jeep Wranglers valuable off-roading beasts. This original design also showcased the slotted grille with round headlights, which we now associate with the spirit of the Jeep Wrangler.

Throughout the war, Jeeps, as they were called, were used in all aspects of life. Jeeps were rugged in off-road situations, great for slogging through mud and dirt, and the hoods were even used as picnic tables. When the war ended, the civilian population began to beg for their new favorite vehicle to be produced for everyday life. They wanted their hands on these versatile vehicles.

As the years progressed and the companies behind the vehicle ebbed and flowed, the Jeep began to take shape. Its smaller, lighter design became more robust and bold. Its recessed grille was pushed out to a place that we now expect from Wrangler models. After these enhancements and alterations were put into effect, the civilian market began to gobble up Jeeps as fast as they could be produced. This would be known as the beginning of Jeep culture as a whole, and is the reason even used Jeep Wranglers hold their value so well; they are iconic.

The Jeep brand truly took shape in 1970, when it was solidified as a separate entity from its previous owners. No longer would it be referred to as part of the company that produced it, but by its true name instead. This was an immediate sales hit. Known as the CJ7, it started the craze for removable roofs on Wranglers.

When Chrysler took over the production of Jeeps in the later half of the 20th century, it was officially given its true title of the Wrangler. From there, it’s history. Chrysler has managed to take the Jeep Wrangler global. Although it’s an American workhorse, it has become a global phenomenon, and people around the world use it for off-roading and daily commutes alike.

A red 1980s used Jeep Wrangler is parked on a desert cliff.

The Jeep Wrangler Today

As you now know, Jeep has come a long way and survived the test of time. Yes, a large portion of its fame is for its aesthetic. However, its fame is not without warrant. Jeep Wranglers meet the same standard as the World War II vehicles as extremely rugged and reliable. Both new and used Jeep Wranglers are loaded with low-end torque. To crawl through the mud, all you need to do is put it in drive, low range, and creep up the trail. The vehicle is great to enjoy the outdoors with, all-around.

You will notice that used Jeep Wranglers vary in price based on age and trim. If you are seeking those iconic round headlights, you may have to shell out quite a bit more, even on used vehicles. By comparison, you could go with the square headlights on the YJ model and get that Jurassic Park era feel, without the steep price tag. The best part about the YJ is that you still get that iconic Jeep Wrangler at a fraction of the cost, with the same reliability and performance of any of its counterparts.

Price is important on the base vehicle itself since part of the fun of owning a Jeep Wrangler is modifying it to your liking. You can purchase the vehicle cheap and still have money left over for tires, lift kits, suspension upgrades, lightbars, snorkels, and anything else you’d like. The aftermarket for Wranglers is extremely vast, and you can do pretty much anything you’d like with yours.

A grey 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with no doors is shown from the rear on the beach.

General Tips for Buying A Used Jeep Wrangler

If you are considering purchasing a used Jeep Wrangler, keep the information in this section in mind before picking up the vehicle. For instance, if you don’t plan to go outside and explore, it may not be your best bet. This is because many Wrangler models don’t have a locking trunk. It would not be suitable for groceries and the like. It’s also primarily made for the utilitarian and isn’t especially comfortable for long commutes. As was listed before, however, these could be positives for the right kind of driver.

The benefits of owning a Jeep Wrangler include many of the drawbacks. The trunk is easily accessible when you need it. The minimalist design allows for more space for passengers, and the engine is optimized for off-roading and getting through tough terrain. The Wrangler is popular because of its host of accessories and aesthetic. It has a height advantage over other cars and can operate like a convertible and SUV combined. The heating system is also superb. The lightweight, bare-bones design also makes the vehicle easy to repair and modify. Finally, how could we not go without mentioning the impressive off-roading capabilities one last time?

End of the Road

At the end of the day, the Jeep Wrangler needs little introduction. You can still see used Jeep Wranglers galloping down the highway or traversing the great outdoors. The aesthetic is uniquely its own, and it has survived the test of time for good reason. If you find yourself looking for a vehicle that can scale the wild, then the Wrangler might be for you. Through World Wars, picnics, crags, and cookouts, the Wrangler will get you to where you need to go.

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