While chasing breadcrumbs today I discovered why Brooks Stevens designed so many Willys automobiles.

If you’re unfamiliar with Brooks Stevens, he was an industrial designer with apparently no particular automotive background, but who was responsible for some iconic designs in that industry. See the Studebaker GT Hawk for just one example.

For Willys, Stevens designed the Jeepster. And the Willys Wagon. And the Wagoneer. And the FC. Jeep enthusiasts should consider him as part of a holy trinity with Barney Roos and Karl Probst.

Illustration: Brooks Stevens (Popular Mechanics)

It turns out Barney Roos contacted Brooks after reading a 1944 article in the SAE Journal about post-war automotive design with an emphasis on a civilian Jeep. I’ve been unable to find that piece, but I did discover he wrote a similar article for Popular Mechanics, and that I was able to find.

In the article he makes a wide range of predictions of how the war and its conclusion would impact the use and availability of various materials, the future for plastics in automotive engineering, a move towards rear-engine design and air-cooled engines... ok, he may not have been the most successful prognosticator, but he knew how to design beautiful cars.

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And if I could stop writing short articles like this I could probably finish my Jeep truck history.