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Holy Toledo! Jeep Factory Tour

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 1998
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Photographers: David FreiburgerRick Péwé

As any self-respecting Jeeper knows, Toledo is the home of the Jeep. Sure, Butler, Pennsylvania, may be where the original Bantam prototype was built prior to Willys' first try at a Jeep, but Toledo is still known as home of the Jeep. Both the Wrangler TJ and the Cherokee XJ are still produced in one of the oldest, most historical automotive factories in the U.S.

There are actually two Jeep plants in Toledo, the original Parkway Plant located on the corner of Jeep Parkway and Willys Parkway, and the newer Stickney Plant a few miles away. The Parkway facility produced the Pope automobile at the turn of the century, but John Willys North purchased the plant in 1910 and moved his Overland company there from Indiana. Through the years the facility grew and evolved under various owners, and in 1987 it was renamed Toledo Assembly Plant when Chrysler bought Jeep. Still informally known as Parkway, the plant produces complete Cherokees, as well as Wrangler bodies.

The Stickney Plant was built during WWII for Autolite and was acquired by Jeep in 1964 as a machining and engine-building facility. This is where the venerable Dauntless V-6 was produced, along with many other components, until the plant was converted for vehicle assembly in 1981. The fullsize Grand Wagoneer was produced there until its final days in the summer of 1991. Currently the Stickney Plant is the final assembly facility for the Wrangler, where the bodies from Parkway are married to the rolling chassis. After trim and option installation, the Wranglers roll out the door at a rate of nearly 400 a day.

As wonderful as the assembly plants are themselves, we were fortunate to get invited inside the little-known museum called the Jeep House that sits inside the Toledo Assembly grounds. It's accessible only by special permission-it's not open to the public, so enjoy the photos we brought back. Inside the building is a plethora of memorabilia, which traces not only the Jeep's history but that of the Willys as well. This truly is the home of the Jeep and hopefully will be for a long time to come.

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