The Autobiography of a Jeep
"The rumor is going around that the jeep is here to stay"
The Autobiography of a Jeep is narrated by the jeep itself in an unassuming, populist voice. The film interweaves a lighthearted vision of a democratic vehicle with accurate facts about the jeep's creation, size, and capabilities.
As it became clear in 1940 that Germany and Italy were racing victoriously through Europe and North Africa, the U.S. Army issued specifications for a simple, rugged vehicle to be created within forty-nine days. The first working prototype was displayed before the September deadline. By the end of the war in 1945, more than seven hundred thousand jeeps had been produced.
The film recounts the origin of the name "jeep" in the quick pronunciation of "G.P."--although the initials initially came not from "General Purpose" but from Ford's duller production abbreviation: "G" for government vehicle and "P" being the symbol for eighty-inch-wheelbase cars. When The Autobiography of a Jeep was released midwar in 1943, the Allies could look to successes reflected in the shots of President Roosevelt riding in a jeep to meet with Churchill at Casablanca after the victory in North Africa.
The film celebrates the American can-do spirit of mass production at the same time as it humanizes the vehicle.... "The rumor is going around that the jeep is here to stay," this film ends prophetically. Postwar jeeps were marketed to returning servicemen as farm and construction vehicles in Willys-Overland ads: "When I get back, I'll get a Jeep. It'll make a swell delivery car!"