The Willys Wagon was the first station wagon produced in the United States primarily as a family passenger vehicle. Its creation and sale paved the way for the truck and SUV market that is so prevalent today. The Willys was a type of Jeep which until the time of its release had only manufactured vehicles for war. In the days of Army Jeeps very little thought was given to practicality or family use in the design of Jeep vehicles.
The Willys Wagon changed all that, becoming one of Jeep's most successful models in the post-war era.
What made the Willys Wagon so successful was the same basic concepts that had been used and perfected in prior Army Jeeps. It used a boxy, minimalist design to maximize the use of space inside as well as a heavy-duty all steel construction to cut down on costs while improving safety. Since the Willys was one of the first Jeep vehicles mass-marketed to families and everyday lifestyles this was a highly important aspect. The first incarnation of the Willys wagon came as the auto world was moving beyond the Army Jeeps it had known for years. In fact many of the buyers of the first Willys Wagons were war veterans and their families moving to the suburbs after fighting had finished. To gain support from this new group of buyers Jeep designed the Willys to be as problem-free as possible. The steel body was easy to maintain and the four-cylinder engine was simple, economical and just powerful enough to get the job done. As the years went on and the Willys Wagon gained popularity more versions were released. These included six-cylinder models, four-wheel drive options and even a short-lived truck version of the station wagon.
The Willys Wagon was a true pioneer of the automotive world. Its designers took basic concepts that had been honed with Army Jeeps and put them to work in a family-friendly station wagon. As the first station wagon of its kind the Willys Wagon was a huge success. It was manufactured for more than a decade until, in the mid-1960s, it was replaced by a newer model Jeep wagon. Even still the Willys Wagon lived on in automotive history as a reliable vehicle that even today is held in high regard as a collectors item.