What an incredible photo. I've been sitting on this one for a while, hoping that I would stumble onto some details that would give it more context. But the picture by itself speaks volumes, not just about boys and Jeeps, but about the incredible pace of the development of technology in the 20th century.
The photo was apparently taken in 1955 in Kajzerica, a neighborhood of Zagreb, capital of Croatia. Milo J. Valencic, who owns a '42 GPW in Florida, passed along the photo from his friend Goran Kelečić in Croatia, who has no further information. I guess the best strategy, one which has worked before, is to post the photo and hope that someone will see it and recognize something.
It's well worth taking a look at the larger copy of the photo (200K JPEG) for details like the bunches of flowers adorning the early CJ-3B. Is the owner picking up his girlfriend? The Jeep is clearly not brand new, but it seems to be a novelty in Kajzerica. Both the horse and rider in the background are looking interested. The group of boys, all the same age, looks like a school class on a field trip.
It's reminiscent of the scene in Colombia, 1965: First Vehicle on the Farm. But it's also simply a beautiful picture, and makes me want to know all the stories hidden in it. I managed to uncover the story of another photo of flowers in a CJ-3B, in Conshohocken Truck "J", but I think in this case we may never know exactly who and why. And maybe it's better that way -- it's part of the fascination of history.
Here's another one we haven't pinned down, but it's clearly in a long tradition of photos of Jeeps in wartime. Ever since the early days of World War II, soldiers have posed for photographs in front of Jeeps. This particular picture found by Keith Ross apparently shows Russian soldiers in Afghanistan in the 1980's, but we have no other details. How the 3B ended up there is unknown, but it's not all that surprising, since Jeeps seem to find themselves almost anywhere where the going is tough.
Decades and worlds away, at the 1954 Chicago Auto Show: a female model sits behind the wheel of a CJ-3B equipped with a snowplow on the front and an early Jeep-A-Trench trencher on the rear. Lee Maguire found this photo on the Chicago Auto Show website, and comments, "So in '54 they were still pushing hard on the industrial and farm sales pitch."
More glamorous cars on display at the 1954 Chicago show included the 1955 Thunderbird, Cadillac La Espada concept car, Studebaker Commander Starliner and Nash Metropolitan convertible. Also the 1954 Kaiser-Darrin convertible (right), the last new car to carry Henry Kaiser's name, before he decided to concentrate on building Jeeps.
The Kaiser display at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland concentrated on practicality. An interesting detail is the presence of chaff screens on the front of both the CJ-3B and the diesel CJ-5 on display. The photo is found in Bill Munro's book Jeep: From Bantam to Wrangler.
This unique photo is courtesy of the Archives Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It shows U.N. peacekeeping soldiers training in Jeep repair and maintenance, specifically on the Hurricane engine, at the Willys-Overland plant in Toledo in the 1950's. The image is taken from Reel 6 of the Industry on Parade Film Collection, 1950-1960. Industry on Parade was a documentary television series created by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) which included some 500 episodes from 1950-1960.
Here's a lineup of CJ-3B's from probably the late 1950's, and I'm guessing this photo was possibly taken in Puerto Rico. Does anybody recognize the location? The photo was published in the Willys promotional booklet Jeep Vehicles in Public Service, as an example of Jeeps being used in public health work.
I'm also guessing that after the first six or so Jeeps in the lineup, the rest are the product of one of Willys' busy photo-retouchers.
Thanks to Milo J. Valencic, Luis Mariano Paz, Lee Maguire, Keith Ross and Bill Munro. -- Derek Redmond
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