I think in reality not that many people ever wonder why Jeep is named Jeep. Even less people on the continent of North America know that in many countries of Europe and Asia all SUVs are labeled as “Jeeps”. “He’s got a real nice Jeep now”, one may say pointing at a Land Cruiser.
But how did it come into being that Jeep got its name that now is iconic of this type of all-terrain vehicles? May be the answer to the popularity of the term is that it is the oldest off-road vehicle with Land Rover coming in second. It came into existence as Bantam BRC prototype to become the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle used by the US Army and allies for the times of World War II and after that. Following it in its path many nations have since created similar rovers serving both military and civilian roles.
One of the most probable explanations of the origin of the word “Jeep” is that the soldiers were so impressed with the new go-anywhere rover that they called it Eugene the Jeep, referring to the “jungle pet” character in the Popeye cartoons. Eugene the Jeep was small and could solve practically any problem.”
Another interesting story is that of a Willys Overland’s test driver Irving “Red” Haussman demonstrating vehicle’s off-road potential by driving it up the steps of the United States Capitol. When asked by reporter Katherine Hillyer, reporter for the Washington Daily News what was the name of it, Irving simply answered, “It’s a Jeep.” Once this phrase made it to Katherine Hillyer’s article with a picture of the vehicle in it, published nation-wide on February 20, 1941, the name stuck to the little 4×4. After being used as a slang word it has finally made it to official use, as in 1950 Willys-Overland Inc. was given the honor of using the name “Jeep” to be their registered trademark.
So now, welcome Jeep, the trusted icon of generations of men who chose to have no boundaries: from Willys-Overland to Jeep Wrangler, from Wagoneer to Grand Cherokee. Jeep – keep the adventure going!