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Who or what is Eugene the Jeep?

An even better question might be...how did this old Popeye comic strip have anything to do with the famous Jeep vehicles past and present?

A little Jeep history indicates that around 1936 (about 4 years prior to the first ever Jeep prototype) a comic strip by Elzie Segar, which featured the Thimble Theater characters Popeye and Olive Oyl, also added a new unique character to the comic series.

This new character had only one line in the series which was the word "jeep". The funny looking cross between a dog and a large rodent had mystical powers and could vanish into another dimension at will.

Eugene became well known in the United States prior to World War II. In 1940 when the U.S. military finally settled on the Bantam, and then the Willys-Overland/Ford light 1/4 ton multipurpose vehicle, the name "jeep" gradually became synonymous with these nimble vehicles.

One theory is that because the little Popeye cartoon character could easily go wherever he wanted...and seemingly so could the Military's new creation...GI's began to refer to the quarter-ton wonder as the now famous "Jeep".

Several other theories circulate regarding the origin of the "Jeep" name, however there seems to be no firm agreement on which of these, if any, is the true source. Possibly the name is merely a combination of these original source theories.

Regardless of the actual genesis of the Jeep name when..you might just associate an odd little cartoon character with your jacked up, stump pullin Jeep.
EugeneTheJeep.jpg
 

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Who or what is Eugene the Jeep?

An even better question might be...how did this old Popeye comic strip have anything to do with the famous Jeep vehicles past and present?

A little Jeep history indicates that around 1936 (about 4 years prior to the first ever Jeep prototype) a comic strip by Elzie Segar, which featured the Thimble Theater characters Popeye and Olive Oyl, also added a new unique character to the comic series.

This new character had only one line in the series which was the word "jeep". The funny looking cross between a dog and a large rodent had mystical powers and could vanish into another dimension at will.

Eugene became well known in the United States prior to World War II. In 1940 when the U.S. military finally settled on the Bantam, and then the Willys-Overland/Ford light 1/4 ton multipurpose vehicle, the name "jeep" gradually became synonymous with these nimble vehicles.

One theory is that because the little Popeye cartoon character could easily go wherever he wanted...and seemingly so could the Military's new creation...GI's began to refer to the quarter-ton wonder as the now famous "Jeep".

Several other theories circulate regarding the origin of the "Jeep" name, however there seems to be no firm agreement on which of these, if any, is the true source. Possibly the name is merely a combination of these original source theories.

Regardless of the actual genesis of the Jeep name when..you might just associate an odd little cartoon character with your jacked up, stump pullin Jeep. View attachment 111353
Now that's some history!
 

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Ted, I've heard that the name was derived from the acronym GP or general purpose vehicle.

How true that is, who knows. ;) View attachment 111359

I've always wanted one of these but never seemed to acquire one of them.
My father had one similiar to that, but newer. I think it was a 1971. Too bad jeep doesn't still make a p/u any more.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Who or what is Eugene the Jeep?

An even better question might be...how did this old Popeye comic strip have anything to do with the famous Jeep vehicles past and present?

A little Jeep history indicates that around 1936 (about 4 years prior to the first ever Jeep prototype) a comic strip by Elzie Segar, which featured the Thimble Theater characters Popeye and Olive Oyl, also added a new unique character to the comic series.

This new character had only one line in the series which was the word "jeep". The funny looking cross between a dog and a large rodent had mystical powers and could vanish into another dimension at will.

Eugene became well known in the United States prior to World War II. In 1940 when the U.S. military finally settled on the Bantam, and then the Willys-Overland/Ford light 1/4 ton multipurpose vehicle, the name "jeep" gradually became synonymous with these nimble vehicles.

One theory is that because the little Popeye cartoon character could easily go wherever he wanted...and seemingly so could the Military's new creation...GI's began to refer to the quarter-ton wonder as the now famous "Jeep".

Several other theories circulate regarding the origin of the "Jeep" name, however there seems to be no firm agreement on which of these, if any, is the true source. Possibly the name is merely a combination of these original source theories.

Regardless of the actual genesis of the Jeep name when..you might just associate an odd little cartoon character with your jacked up, stump pullin Jeep. View attachment 111353
Tedwitt (and others);
Thank you for adding to this thread!
Great article about Eugene.


Eugene, indeed.

I've worn out a few 'Eugene the Jeep' t shirts while Jeepin' about.

You are absolutely right regarding Eugene (pronounced 'oigen' and spelled Eugen if you're Deutsche) and the likely correlation between he and the G503 Truck, 1/4 ton, 4X4.

The word, 'Jeep,' had been kicked around U.S. military supply depots since at least as early as WW1, when it was an oft used nickname applied to new, untested prototype machines and equipment.

In July of 1940, the U.S. Army put out a bid to 135 automobile and equipment manufacturers for what was to be a 'Truck, 1/4 Ton, 4X4'. The tight specifications of the bid and short time provided (49 days) in which to provide working prototypes for testing were enough to disinterest all but a few potential bidders.

American Bantam of Butler, PA answered the call, as did Willys Overland of Toledo, Ohio.
The very first prototype of the Bantam Blitz Buggy (which would become known as the Jeep) was driven from Butler to Fort Holibaird, MD and delivered to the Ordnance Dept. on Sept. 21 for testing. 'Testing' involved beating the poor little vehicle to death, and they were rather impressed with the effort required to do so.

Unsatisfied, however, with the production capabilities of the little company in Butler, Pa, the Army shared Bantam's blueprints with Willys (who had also bid) and Ford. Ford accepted the challenge only reluctantly, though they owned Marmom- Herrington, an outfit that built 4X4 conversions and had bid 4X4 vehicles to the Army previously.

The next round of testing pitted the Bantam BRC (Bantam Reconnaissance Car) against the Ford Pygmy and Willys Quad prototypes. All did well, but the Willys 134 cu. in. 'Go Devil' engine was strongly favored.

Another round of prototypes was ordered to conform to the Willys design (with suggested refinements). More vehicle abuse (testing) was performed on the new BRC, Willys MA (M= Military, A= first contract) and Ford GP (G is Fordspeak for Government, P= Ford's letter code for 80 inch wheelbase), which resulted in small contracts for each.

GP on the Ford vehicles never stood for 'General Purpose,' though many assumed that it did.

The vehicles that made the cut and were produced in great numbers for the war effort were the Willys MB (second military contract) and Ford GPW (government, 80", Willys pattern).

The Government designated them all as G503, Truck, 1/4 Ton, 4X4.

The first documented use of the name, Jeep, as applied to the vehicles, was a caption from a February, 1941 photo in the Washington Daily News of a Willys Quad ascending the U.S. Capitol steps with dignitaries aboard. The caption reads; "Jeep Creeps Up Capitol Steps."

When asked decades later, the photographer of that shoot recalled having asked a uniformed Army officer nearby, "What is that thing.. what do I call it?" The officer is said to have replied, "It's a Jeep."

What is the true origin of the name Jeep?
Eugene?
Old Army Motor Pool terminology?
Abbreviation of (Ford's) GP?

Any and/ or all of the above seems to be the answer.


jeep_quad_1940_700.jpg

Willys Quad

jeep_quad_capitolsteps_375.jpg

What is that thing?
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The most recognizable (and most trademarked) physical feature of the Jeep, it's distinctive seven slotted grille, had its origins with Ford.

As adopted, Willys MB and Ford GPW vehicles had a welded iron brushguard for a grille, as found on larger military trucks.

Faced with large government production quotas while (originally) also prioritizing civilian auto and truck manufacturing, Ford (notoriously efficient, then) soon put the 'kaibash' on the heavy, slow to produce 'slat grill' and replaced it with a simple stamping that allowed holes for headlights, blackout lights, and nine tall slots for air passage to the radiator. The Army liked it, and it became standard throughout WW2 production.

Ford-GPW-Jeep-cutaway-diagram.jpg


For post WW2 civilian production, Willys altered the grill to a seven slot design, allowing for placement of larger, stationary headlights. The MB/GPW headlights were hinged to flip back (with hood open) for use as worklights.
 

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I love jeeps, here's my newest, with red TJ in the background.
IMG_0484.JPG
 

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I'd love to find one of these. 1965 Jeep J-2000
IMG_0565.JPG
 
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