You know what it is with some works of automotive history? They go on and on and on, like they’re eternal. Example: I’d love to have this new history of the groundbreaking French racing car, Ballot. But it runs to two volumes, costs $350 to buy, and would take a lot of time and concentration to absorb. If you’re pressed for time, like most of us, there’s a better solution. Full disclosure: The book I’m about to review is from my longtime Hemmings Motor News colleague, Pat Foster, a guy who lives and breathes the history of independent American auto manufacturers.
Pat’s an authority on non-Big Three automakers, especially including American Motors. So it’s appropriate that he’s penned a history of Jeep, the brand that, sad but true, kept the heart of AMC beating long after it would have otherwise stopped. Jeep: Eight Decades From Willys to Wrangler captures the story of the fabled automotive nameplate in a manageable 192 softcover pages, starting with the original scout car that American Bantam built for the government as World War II approached, and reaching to today’s offerings from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, including the new Gladiator pickup. Pat pays admirable attention in the book to Jeep prototypes (one was the stillborn XJ-001 sports car) and offshore variants (the Philippine “Jeepney”). If you need just one Jeep book on your shelf, this one’s a good choice. It’s $32.99 from the publisher’s website, and you can visit Pat’s website, The Olde Milford Press, to sample his other works of automotive history.