To go forward, we often need to look back. This month at Motor Authority, we’re looking back at the long, illustrious history of Jeep.

Jeep isn’t just a byword for a boxy vehicle—in many places around the world, the word Jeep means “go anywhere,” too. Sometimes, Jeep also means “freedom.”

For most, Jeep means more than just a sturdy off-road frame, four wheels, and an open top. It means being part of an open-door clique. Despite hundreds of thousands of CJs and YJs and JKs on the roads around the world, Jeeps still form a tight-knit community and command a friendly wave.

For Motor Authority editors, digging into Jeep meant crossing the globe to learn more about the tight bonds among those owners and fans.

From Toledo to the beaches of France, from Detroit to the rivers of Italy, we looked for Jeep’s influence in a world that’s ever-changing, even though the same basic shape has remained. Here’s where we’ll take you in the next few weeks:

-In Normandy, we found countless Jeeps left behind after the Allies’ landing pressed into further service—to transform France and its people. Once thought disposable by GIs, the Jeeps found second, third, and fourth lives across the country.

-We found the world’s most famous Jeep driver, “M*A*S*H*” actor Jamie Farr, and talked with him about his hometown that produces thousands of Jeeps around the world.

-In Italy, we searched for the Rubicon in a hardcore Wrangler to find the line that owners know and love—the point of no return, on toward freedom.

-We asked what Jeep’s formula for success has been over successive generations of the same vehicle. It’s more than a familial resemblance—it’s in the DNA.

-Across the world, countless others have attempted to copy Jeep’s genetic code with varying degrees of success. We looked at the numerous imitations, competitors, and others that have challenged Jeep for its crown.

-And, we looked at the history of Jeep—the good, the bad, the CJ, the AMC, and even square headlights—from beginning to end.

Across the world, we found pieces of America and its iconic sport-utility vehicle, and hope you’ll come on the road with us as we rediscover them.

And come with us off the road, too.

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