In 1970, American Motors Corporation bought Kaiser-Jeep Corporation, and the all-terrain vehicle brand became Jeep Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMC.
Essentially, since the early 1940’s, Jeep vehicles held a unique position in the marketplace, with no serious competition well into the 1980’s. AMC engineers and marketing experts continually developed all aspects of the Jeep, seeking new levels of sophistication in the tradition of thinking set by preceding owners Kaiser-Jeep Corporation, and Willys-Overland Motor Company. Initial credit for the Jeep concept is due to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, seeker of improved military transport; and American Bantam Corporation. Bantam engineer, Karl K. Probst, developed the basic design and construction plans for a small, light, highly maneuverable, four-wheel-drive utility vehicle.
In response to invitation to bid, the Bantam pilot model fared well in Army tests, as did pilot models submitted by Willys-Overland, and Ford Motor Company. As the U.S. prepared to enter World War II, the Army called for construction of a tactical utility vehicle that combined the best features of Bantam, Willys, and Ford. Although Bantam had pioneered the basic design, it was denied any production rights, partly due to concerns about production capacity and delays.
The credibility of the Willys-Overland Company was established in the all-terrain market when it bid for and won a government contract to build a light weight, four-wheel drive transport vehicle (GP–general purpose military vehicle) which could be easily repaired in the field. Over 300,000 Jeeps were produced for the U.S. military during World War II. Ford Motor Company produced another 335,000 wartime Jeeps for the allied forces. The designated Willys-Overland MB/Ford GPW 1/4-ton Jeep ended production in 1945, the same year WWII ended. After the war, Willys registered the Jeep trademark.
In 1953, Kaiser Motors Corporation bought the Willys-Overland Company, contributing developer of the Jeep. Starting in 1953, Kaiser initiated an extensive research and development program, which over the course of 16 years expanded the range of Jeep vehicles offered to both the military and consumer markets. The versatility of the Jeep in government and civilian applications was the basis for Kaiser to establish manufacturing plants worldwide in 30 countries. This worldwide distribution network supported marketing and promotion efforts which eventually brought the Jeep name and vehicles to more than 150 countries.
Production of the Jeep CJ-5 began in 1954, and it was manufactured in the United States until 1983.