Jeep has paid tribute to its World War Two military heritage by trotting out a special Wrangler edition called the Willys Wheeler.
The four-wheel-drive specialist says the model was inspired not so much by the original military workhorse, but the post-war Willys CJ, or Civilian Jeep.
The Willys-Overland CJ-2A reached the US public in 1945. It became a favourite among ranchers and contractors for its go-anywhere capability and strictly functional amenities.
The 2014 Wheeler will come with upgraded off-road equipment and be unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show, which opens this week.
“The Willys Wheeler edition is a Jeep purist’s dream,” says Jeep CEO Mike Manley. “It delivers pure functionality and rugged capability in a unique package that recognises the origins of the brand.”
Jeep has often come up with special editions, mostly restricted to the US market. A recent example is the Polar Edition Wrangler.
But strong demand worldwide for the range of Jeep models has brought reports that the Willys Wheeler might appear as a global vehicle, meaning it would be available in right-hand drive as a two-door and four-door.
Why would Jeep bother? One reason is that Australia, for instance, is the biggest market for Wrangler outside the US, and the Willys name itself is revered globally.
The Willys Wheeler is based on the Wrangler Sport but gets upgrades for rough-and-tumble work like a Dana 44 rear axle with limited-slip differential, special gear ratios, meaty tyres on 17-inch wheels, and rock rails to protect the side sills.
The kit works hand-in-hand with the Jeep Command-Trac 4×4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio to give the Willys Wheeler improved off-road ability.
Jeep has thrown in a special Jeep-branded carrying bag – inside are a D-ring, tow strap and leather gloves.
The roof can be had as a Sunrider soft-top or black-splatter Freedom Top.
Under the bonnet is the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine that delivers 212kW and 350Nm. Standard gearbox is a six-speed manual; a five-speed automatic is optional.