The evolution of Jeep from the 1940’s Willy’s to the Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler 80th anniversary drive

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the car manufacturer Jeep, I was recently invited down to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford for a rather unique drive day. This was a chance to road-test their new 80th-anniversary edition Jeep Wrangler but also a couple of absolute icons from the brands earlier days.

Duxford in itself is a pretty cool place. It’s home to the American Air Museum in Britain, a fully functioning and still active runway, the Imperial war Museum and lots of old aircraft hangers filled with lots of marvellous pieces of history.

The location was obviously very fitting for a Jeep drive given that their vehicles have played a key role in various American military exercises and conflicts.

Jeep had 3 cars lined up for me to try out. The brand new Wrangler, the absolutely stunning Jeep CJ7 and a 1940’s Jeep Willy’s.

To begin, I took the 80th-anniversary edition Wrangler for a lap around the airfield. I’ve always had an attraction to the Jeep Wrangler. It’s rugged, it means business and it’s beautifully designed both inside and out without being flashy or ostentatious. My kind of car for sure.

The Wrangler is a joy to drive and this particular model looked stunning in Sarge Green. I loved the sky one-touch roof especially. The addition of the wind and the light from above added to the feeling of being on an adventure.

As great as a modern car is though, it can sometimes feel. a little ‘too easy’ to drive and as I got behind the wheel of the Jeep CJ7 I was quickly reminded that this was not always the case. Power steering, ABS and all of the other things that we take for granted were (obviously) not present and given the exemplary condition of this car my nerves at not wanting to damage it made for a very careful first lap.

Jeep CJ7

As my confidence grew, I got a real feel for this car. there is no doubt that this is a real beauty and an absolute classic. I’m not quite sure that I’d have been ready to take it out on a public road, but on this quiet airfield, I was able to imagine that I had been transported back in time.

The Willy’s was eyeing me up next and I was excited yet apprehensive about this one. This car was about the same age as my grandparents. I felt like it should be treated gently and with care but I was quickly reminded that you don’t get to that age without being made of tough stuff.

I jumped into the hot seat. Noted the lack of doors, seatbelts and just about everything else that we are used to and started her up.

Getting started was the first challenge. There’s a nack to this and. it was one that did not come naturally to me (lols). You have to flick the starter switch with your toe and simultaneously command the throttle with your heel. At this point, I was still going for the gentle touch but I realised that was not going. to do the trick.

Off I went around the circuit, waving my way through the vintage aircraft hangars warily managing my speed and the rather soft brakes. A very fun drive and one that I imagine I won’t repeat again, a real privilege and one that really makes you appreciate the modern comforts that we are now used to.

For more on the 80th anniversary Jeep Wrangler and the rest of the range head over here.

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