And Then There Were Seven!!!

Of the MANY topics Jeepers argue and debate, the origin of the sevenslat/seven opening grille that is now THE definitive symbol of the Jeep brand.

The origin of the sevenslat grille is VERY simple!!! It is is not a romantic and mysterious story, it was created out of simple manufacturing necessity.

After WWII, Willys-Overland re-engineered the Jeep for civilian use by upgrading the transmission with gears better suited for civilian use, as well as larger headlamps.  To accommodate the larger headlamps, the stamping die was reworked, stations were removed and reworked to allow the original tooling to be utilized.  The remaining seven openings provided sufficient airflow, just as the nine opening grille did.

Look at the photos below, it’s clear that the overall shape/size of the CJ grille is the same as the MB grille.

  • Ford did not patent the nine opening grill

Henry Ford did not want to have anything to do with the war build-up and only entered the war movement when his son Edsel began working with the Army Air Corp to mass-produce B-24 Liberator bombers.  A.J. Baime chronicles Henry Ford’s ambivalence about getting involved in WWII in his book The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

The U.S. Government needed to ensure a reliable supply of Jeeps, and enlisted Ford to produce the Jeep under license.  Henry Ford insisted that parts produced for the GPW were stamped with an F on them, so Ford could not be held responsible for Jeeps produced by Willys-Overland.

Why would Ford patent the nine opening grille?  And if Ford did, why was this design never seen on a Ford product after the war?

  • The Jeep was not the first vehicle on all seven continents

The idea that the Jeep was the first vehicle to traverse all seven continents sounds good, however, I believe that the VW Beetle was the first vehicle to set a tire on all seven continents.

 

If the Jeep was the first vehicle on all seven continents, why didn’t Willys-Overland use that in their marketing of the CJ Universal after the war?

  • It was a simple tooling change to allow for larger headlamps!!!

As boring as it sounds, Willys-Overland needed to sell vehicles to the civilian population after the war.  The CJ needed larger headlamps, and with limited funds, Willys-Overland reworked the existing tooling

It was just a simple necessity that gave the Jeep the sevenslat grille!!!