Friday, May 27, 2011

Willys Quad Capitol Steps

Willys Quad Capitol Steps by lee.ekstrom
Willys Quad Capitol Steps, a photo by lee.ekstrom on Flickr.
Contrary to popular belief, the name “jeep” does not derive from “general purpose.” The name likely combined two elements. The first was the extraordinary “Eugene the Jeep” character from the Popeye comic strip. Able to do extraordinary things, and do anything. The second came from military slang for any unproven piece of military hardware, human or mechanical. In early 1941, Willys-Overland staged a press event in Washington D.C., having the Quad drive up the Capitol steps. Irving “Red” Hausmann, a test driver on the Willys development team had heard soldiers referring to the Quad as a “jeep.” Katherine Hillyer, a reporter from the Washington Daily News picked up Red’s usage of the term “jeep” and printed the headline “Jeep creeps up Capital steps” — forever fixing the name in public awareness.