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|Willys Motors (1953-63)|
|Fate||Bought out by American Motors (AMC) in 1970|
|Successor||Jeep, a wholly owned division of FCA US LLC|
Sport utility vehicles
While Joseph W. Frazer had left Kaiser-Frazer by 1950, Frazer had been the one-time president of Willys-Overland. Going it alone, Henry J. Kaiser pursued a merger between Kaiser Motors and Willys-Overland, which was arranged in 1953. Kaiser's finances ultimately dictated that he could no longer compete with the established manufacturers in the passenger car business in the U.S., but he saw value in Willys' Jeep line.
In 1955, Kaiser phased out both the Kaiser and Willys passenger car lines, and shipped the dies to Argentina where the joint venture with the Argentina Government owned Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) continued to build cars through 1977 when Renault took over.
Under the name "Willys Motors", the Jeep-based truck line continued in the United States including the CJ (Civilian Jeep) Series, all steel Willys Jeep Wagon (station wagon) and Jeep Forward Control FC-150 and FC-170 models that were introduced in 1957. In 1962, Willys introduced the Jeep Wagoneer as a 1963 model to replace the 1940s-style Jeep station wagons. Designed by industrial designer Brooks Stevens, the Wagoneer (later known as the Grand Wagoneer) would remain in production with the major architecture totally unchanged until 1991, and is credited with being the first true American sport utility vehicle (SUV). Also, in 1962, The original Jeep Gladiator Full-sized pickup truck was introduced to replace the old Willys Jeep Truck.
As part of a general push to place all of their corporate holdings under the Kaiser name, in 1963, the company changed the name of Willys Motors to Kaiser Jeep Corporation.
In 1967, Kaiser Jeep resurrected the Jeepster (in concept; the vehicle was all-new, albeit loosely based on the Willys Jeepster), which had been produced by Willys-Overland from 1948 to 1950. It was available in three models (roadster, convertible, and pickup) and proved to be moderately popular (see Jeepster Commando).
American Motors Corporation (AMC), looking to expand their product line, had on a couple of occasions entered into negotiations with Kaiser executives with the intent of purchasing the company. The deal was finalized in 1970, and Kaiser Jeep became "Jeep Corporation," a wholly owned subsidiary of AMC.