Monday, Jul 23, 2018
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Almost every model year set for Toledo Jeep Fest

Organizers still seeking 1956, 1957 examples

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    For the 75th anniversary of Willys-Overland getting the WWII ‘jeep’ contract, the Toledo Assembly Complex built a special-edition Wrangler much like the first Willys MB.

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Got a 1956 or 1957 Jeep? Jerry Huber and the folks at Toledo Jeep Fest would sure like to hear from you.

Organizers of the Aug. 13 event have made a major effort to round up at least one example of every model year from the Jeep’s 75-year run, but those two years have so far eluded them.

Mr. Huber noted last week that there was nothing particularly unusual about those model years — they just hadn’t yet had anyone register them, nor had they been able to locate any in the Toledo area.

The group had been searching for a 1961 as well, but officials said someone registered one this week.

As of Tuesday, more than 800 Jeeps had been signed up for the car show and parade, which is to take up much of downtown Toledo from the SeaGate Convention Centre to the green space outside the United Way building on Jackson Street.

The event, free to the public, will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. that Saturday.

Registration of parade vehicles, which costs $15, can be done online here. For more information, call 419-960-5337 or send an email to toledojeepfest@gmail.com. Initially, registration of vehicles was set to end July 15, but officials extended the deadline to the end of the month.

Organizers say a number of unusual or rare vehicles are expected, including some from Fiat Chrysler’s own collection.

Omix-ADA Inc., a Georgia company that markets itself as the world’s largest wholesaler of Jeep replacement and aftermarket parts, volunteered to bring 10 classic Jeeps from its significant collection.

Though the vehicles make the rounds on Omix-ADA’s show circuit, it’s rare for them to bring so many to a single event. But this is special, said Henk van Dongen, the company’s marketing director.

“It really is the 75th anniversary and Toledo being the birthplace of Jeep is obviously key there,” he said.

Among the vehicles coming from Georgia are 1941 prototypes from all three companies that competed for the military contract — Toledo-based Willys-Overland, the American Bantam Car Co. from Butler, Pa., and Ford Motor Co.

Mr. van Dongen said Omix-ADA’s collection is one of just three to have each model.

It is also bringing a special 1946 CJ-2A that was set up for agricultural work, with dual front and rear tires, a side-mounted sickle bar mower, a towing boom, and a giant buzz saw on the back.

“Willys needed to figure out how to make a living not making military vehicles anymore. That’s when they started working with farm jeeps,” said Mr. van Dongen (the Jeep trademark was not granted until 1950 so the initial vehicles were generically referred to as “jeeps”). “Every single one has a little story behind it.”

The Toledo Jeep Fest kicks off with the parade at 11 a.m., with the Jeep show starting at noon. There also will be live entertainment, children’s activities, food vendors, and a pair of beer gardens. The event ends at 6 p.m.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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