Jeep Wrangler Grilles Through the Years
Jeep Wranglers, in their various incarnations, have earned their place in history. From its rugged beginning as troop vehicles in World War II to its current sportier form, there’s one thing that has remained nearly the same — the iconic Wrangler grille. How has the grille changed over the years, and how has it remained the same? Check out this image to see the slight differences through the years.
Jeep, Pre-Chrysler, 1944-1986
The Wrangler and its iconic grille started its life in the early 1940s as a lightweight troop carrier for U.S. troops in World War II. The CJ-1 and CJ-2 models sported the first version of the grille: two large, round headlights to lead the troops through treacherous terrain, and a wide air grille to keep the engine cool. The shape of this first grille has remained nearly constant through the years.
From 1945 to 1953, the CJ-2A and CJ-3A were manufactured as the first civilian vehicles of their type. The company had little to no competition, because they had found a niche that no one had explored before. While the edges of the grille became a little sharper, the classic shape remained intact.
The CJ-4 in 1951 returned to the softer, rounder lines of the grille, especially around the headlights, but after 1953, the CJ-3B returned to the squarer edge design.
From 1954 to 1986, Jeep introduced four new models that altered the grille design. The CJ-5, CJ-6, CJ-7, and CJ-8 expanded the grille. While the centerpiece of the grille was still similar to its predecessors, with enormous headlamps, smaller driving lights and seven vertical slats, the rest of the grille was expanded across the front of the cars, creating a more unified appearance.
From 1981 to 1985, the company tried a new design for their grille. The CJ-10 and CJ-10A featured wider-set headlights and additional slats. The overall look was flat and bulky, and was soon abandoned.
In 1987, Jeep was purchased by the Chrysler Company, and changed the fate of the Wrangler grille forever.
Jeep Wrangler, 1987 to Present
Chrysler’s takeover of Jeep led to the introduction of the first YJ model, which was produced from 1987 to 1995. Dropping the bulky CJ-10 grille, the Wrangler’s new designers decided to go back to the basics. The biggest change was the switch to square headlights and driving lights instead of round. They kept the expanded pieces behind the grille and went back to the classic seven-slat grille design.
The classic Wrangler grille we all know and love came into being in 1997. Returning to the round headlights and introducing larger driving lights, the Wrangler TJ and Unlimited have shaped the look of Jeeps since the late ‘90s. The only exception to this is the Wrangler JK, which keeps the round headlights and seven-slat design but rounds off all the edges.Time will only tell what Jeep will come up with for the 2018 models and beyond.