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Jeep’s rugged Wrangler goes full retro to celebrate 75th Anniversary

Jeep is celebrating its 75th anniversary in style with a one-off Wrangler dressed in full army regalia. Dubbed 75th Salute, the concept was built exactly 75 years after the United States government ordered an initial batch of 18,000 Willys Jeeps — and on the same assembly line in Toledo, Ohio, that the first cars rolled off of.

Workers started with a standard two-door Wrangler plucked straight off of the assembly line. They removed the roll bar, then installed 16-inch steel wheels wrapped by military-spec, non-directional tires. The Wrangler also received rugged steel bumpers on both ends, tow hooks, and round mirrors, while the seatbacks were trimmed down to achieve a more period-correct look.

No homage to the original Willys would be complete without a dark green paint job with white graphics. And, of course, the concept isn’t fitted with doors or a top of any kind. Jeep points out the transformation was surprisingly quick and straightforward.

“We tried to get this Salute Jeep to look a lot like the original,” explained Mark Allen, the head of Jeep’s design department. “[It proves] that we are still running that same theme 75 years later on a Wrangler. That’s pretty special.”

Mechanically, the Wrangler 75th Salute is fully functional — and fully stock. That means it uses a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that churns out 285 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. The six spins all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, allowing the Wrangler to go as far off the beaten path as its bare-bones predecessor.

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Jeep will keep the Wrangler 75th Salute and use it regularly as it continues to celebrate three quarters of a century of building off-road vehicles. After that, the concept will join the carmaker’s collection of special and iconic models, where it will lead a more relaxing life than the battle-worn original.