Friday, July 11, 2014

Willys Travels the Globe

What began in battle but is now built for better times, Jeep's tire tracks span the entire globe.  This 4x4 slab of sturdy craftsmanship first left its mark on the battlefields of Europe. Now even the most unlikely countries have been branded by this unique American masterpiece. 

After World War II, the US sold or gifted many of their Willys Jeeps to the Philippines. Not looking a gifted horse in the mouth the savvy Flipinos took us one better and flipped the Jeep notion into the most popular mode of transportation in the country. "The Jeepney", a combination of Jeep and Jitney (a small franchised bus) has transformed the way Jeeps are viewed today. The Filipinos injected innovation into these Jeepney's by stripping down and altering their decor. Canopies for better shade and air made a new convertible top and the fresh painted bodies in vibrant colors and the added kitsch elements made the style a hit with civilians. The simple long bench seating was up close and personal. The passengers crammed to fill the small buses and after a short trip the riders were either best buddies or they leapt off the vehicle tearing at their faces in a claustrophobic fit.  The best part of the Jeepney story is the ingenuity of a culture reinterpreting a wartime design and blending this new American idea into their culture and lives. In a strange twist of affairs the Jeepney became so popular (its image was used by the Philippines for the 1964 World's Fair) that the government regulated its use to only bus transportation. Weird. 

Converting used military Jeeps as a way to bum your pals around the rugged Philippine terrain evolved into a national symbol. Just another way that Jeep has changed the way we drive.

No comments:

Post a Comment