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Friday, November 14, 2014

From the Willys to the Super Jeep, one company readies a Jeep museum


Historic Jeep collection
P.J. O’Rourke once described the Jeep as “a fitting instrument to transport the free people of a free nation with the respect to which we are entitled and the dignity that we deserve.”

 While this portrayal is a little poetic for such a pedestrian machine, the prose makes perfect sense when you consider the vehicle’s humble beginnings, transporting troops through the muck of World War II. Some 600,000 Jeeps proved their worth in the harshest possible environments.

Consequently, Jeeps quickly became a favorite among returning vets and other folks after the war who were looking for a tough little truck – whether they were interested in a workhorse for the farm or ranch, or simply a vehicle allowed them to take the road less traveled. Thus the legend of the Jeep was born.

Omix-ADA, one of the largest manufacturers and wholesale distributors of aftermarket replacement Jeep parts and Jeep accessories, is in the process of building the ultimate Jeep museum at its headquarters in Suwanee, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, to help preserve the heritage of this mighty mite.

 “We currently have 26 models, all unique, rare, and pristine example of Jeeps throughout the years,” says Dave Logan, product manager and master Jeep historian at Omix-ADA. “And we’re hoping to add a lot more in the near future.”

The museum isn’t randomly collecting, but rather deliberately looking for vehicles it doesn’t have. “For example, we found an M-677 crew cab, military FC forward cab pickup truck, online the other day,” says Logan.

 It’s rare because Jeep only made a few hundred of them, and it was originally equipped with a puny three-cylinder, two-stroke diesel engine.

“The mill was slow, blew smoke everywhere, wasn’t very powerful,” says Logan. “But there are three left in the world with the diesel engine. I not saying we’re going buy it, but it’s something we’re interested in.”

Click through the gallery above to see the highlights of the collection, and look for the museum opening in spring 2015.