Women and Jeeps: A Brief History

No, Actually. It Didn’t Start with Barbie

Barbie wore pink, kept herself well-groomed, and never got her hands dirty. Then she got a Pink Jeep! I’ve always felt sorry for Barbie but never more so than when she bought that Jeep. I saw it as a cry for help. The poor girl was so conflicted living in that overbearing pink haze.

Her soul yearned to fly in a topless Jeep along dirt trails, splashing across streams, and on up to the top of the hill. Coming to a stop at the top, she props her dirty flip-flopped feet on the dash and chugs a bottle of water; pure nirvana. For poor Barbie, it was just a moment’s fantasy.

Give the girl credit though; she did buy herself that symbol of carefree delight. But she compromised when she bought it in pink. I doubt Barbie drove her Jeep anywhere other than shopping – the original “Mall Crawler.” For sure she never took it out early Sunday mornings to compete with Ken and the rest of the boys on a hill climb.

Where It All Began

The bond between women and Jeep began in the factories at the outset of WWII. The army needed a durable and versatile all-terrain vehicle. Women on the home front answered the call. They flooded the factories to assemble and test drive the Jeeps before sending them overseas. They knew they were doing their part.

women building Jeeps
Women building military Jeeps at the Willys Overland Factory in Toledo, Ohio (c.1942)

Women served in the war on all fronts, many of them driving Jeeps as part of their service. Date night meant a Jeep; sometimes as a destination. When the war ended, the young girls back home were thrilled when their Dad, brother, or uncle brought home an Army Jeep. It was joyriding at its best. The great-granddaughters of those women were the first to rock their own Jeep Power Wheels. So what if it was pink?

Considering the way Jeep made its initial mark in our world, it’s no surprise that Jeep is synonymous with youth. Jeeps do what all other vehicles do; get you where you need to go. The difference is a Jeep can sometimes take you places other vehicles can’t. Most important for many is, wherever you go in a Jeep, it’s fun!

Where the Dirt Road Ends

Women never forget their first love and for many, that was a Jeep Wrangler. About two-thirds of all cars are purchased by women. Automakers, in their effort to capture that demographic, have manufactured gender specific cars. One even manufactured their model in pink. Few women bought those cars. It turns out women buy Jeeps for the same reasons men do. Sitting behind the wheel of a Jeep inspires confidence and control. It also promises carefree fun.

As adults with careers and families, women may leave the back roads behind but not necessarily their Jeeps. They choose newer models that represent responsibility like fuel efficiency, safety, and dependability, such as the Jeep Patriot, Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade.

Hit a bump in the road while driving a new Jeep model and you won’t get jolted from your seat. It’s time for luxury and modern electronics but one thing has not changed. A Jeep woman is still a Jeep woman; she’s still having fun behind the wheel.

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