A Flatfender That Has Seen the World
On June 3, 1943, a brave little Willys MB rolled off the assembly line of the Willys Toledo plant in Ohio to be delivered to the U.S. Army later that day, one month before the landing in Sicily. Having served its mission honorably over 4,500 miles from home, it spent nearly 70 years overseas. At the end of World War II, the little Willys MB was transferred to the Italian Army, which put it into service until the Willys MB was decommissioned and later sold. In April 1984 it was bought by the Italian journalist Vittorio Argento, who is also the present owner as well as the director and star of the 'back home' operation that brought the Jeep back to its birthplace after 70 years.
The faithful Willys MB made the trek across the Atlantic from Rome to New Jersey where it then drove across three states and over 1000 miles to reach Chrysler Group's Toledo Assembly Complex and the historical production site where it was built 70 years ago. The jeep has come a long way, and not just physically but metaphorically as well. The Willys MB was very crude and bare bones with only the necessary equipment to get our soldiers through the toughest terrain they could encounter. 70 years later, the current generation Jeep Wrangler JK still bears a lot of similarities with its 70 year-old ancestor. Even after 70 years, the Wrangler is still built with solid front and rear axles; a two-speed manually shifted transfer-case, fully convertible capability and even a fold down windshield as standard equipment.