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Seeing the Future – 66 Years Ago

January 6, 2009

Neil’s Blog Entry

Okay, so my dad is awesome. I know, you all knew that already. But here’s a good reason why: In August 1943, my dad re-designed the Jeep. It was, up to that time, a military vehicle and he redesigned it for civilian purposes.

The idea was, once the war ended, to have the automobile companies buy up all the Jeeps, paint them up and add peacetime accessories. Selling them to civilians would fill the gap while the car manufacturers could retool their factories from war production.


(Click photo for larger view)

He got some of his drawings published in an issue of Popular Science magazine that showed off his ideas. I can still remember leafing through the slightly yellowed pages of that old magazine the first time he showed it to me. Of course, he kept it. He keeps everything.

Anyway, he found the above image online a while back and sent it to me and asked, “Do you remember this?” Remember? Of course I remember. I mean, I was just a kid – and to a kid, to be in a magazine was pretty cool. Even if I didn’t know anything about science, popular or not. My dad was in a magazine – that’s all I needed to know. This was one of those “my dad is awesome” moments that I will remember till the day I die.

But when I looked closer at the story beneath his drawings, I noticed that they talked about the auto manufacturers needed to convert from war production. What this means for those of you who are too young to know, was that the carmakers had converted their factories during the war to make airplanes and submarines and tanks and stuff. And there was a period after the war when they had to retool their equipment back to making cars.

Now I’m thinking about the big car makers of today and how we’ve had the technology to make cleaner, more efficient cars for a long, long time now and they’re all just dragging their asses – excuse me, I meant “feet” – and whining about how hard it will be to retool their factories and such to do so. I don’t want to get political here, but when Obama said we’d all have to make sacrifices to get the country back up and running again, it made me think about how much everyone sacrificed back in the 1940’s. They literally converted car factories to build airplanes. All we want is to convert car factories to better car factories. And I wonder if we, as a country, will be able to do even that?

But anyway, back to my dad and the Jeep of the future – to prove without a doubt that my dad is awesome – the first civilian Jeep (the Jeep CJ) was introduced one year later in 1944. My dad. Seeing the future. Awesome.

Still with no pithy catchphrase,
Neil

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