Why is Jeep fundamental to Toledo and its people? This year, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library is helping to answer that question as the official Toledo Jeep Fest History Sponsor. Check out the library’s Jeep: It’s a Toledo Thing section to see the incredible images of Jeep history including the iconic vehicles and the amazing people who designed, built, tested and drove them.
Learn about the comparatively small automotive company – Willys-Overland – that developed and improved upon the initial design for the Jeep, creating a solid and durable military asset that won the U.S. Army’s favor.
Read about a Toledo soldier’s account of a lifesaving maneuver in a Jeep.
See how Willys-Overland continued to produce combat-ready Jeeps after the war and how they modified and converted the Jeep for farming, firefighting, snow removal and many other tasks. Is there anything that the Jeep can’t do?
Birth of the Jeep
Toledo Jeep history begins in 1941 when Bantam won a significant United States Military contract to design a four-wheel drive utility vehicle that was manufactured throughout World War II. Dana is credited as a co-inventor of the Jeep, along with the U.S. Army, Bantam, Ford, and Willys-Overland. Willys contracts to build military Jeeps for the war and produces about 360,000 vehicles by 1945.
Today, both the iconic Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Gladiator are being produced in Toledo. The Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex is one of the region’s largest and most modern manufacturing plants. For more than 80 years, Jeep has been touching the lives of Toledoans and during the weekend of August 4-6, the city will celebrate that rich history.
Explore Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s Digital Collections to see more from their Jeep archive. Have you ever seen a Jeep snug in its shipping crate, or Jeeps awaiting delivery at the Rossford Ordinance Depot, Jeeps fording the Maumee River or aerial photos of the Willys-Overland facility?
Our official Toledo Jeep Fest History Sponsor Toledo Lucas County Public Library is a great resource and Toledo Jeep Fest will be updating and highlighting great moments in Jeep history throughout the year.