SUV Vehicles - Consider This

SUV Vehicles have an interesting history. Banks, in the 1930’s depression era, would loan farmers money to purchase light trucks for use on the farm but would not loan them money for a family passenger car. An Australian farmer’s wife suggested that Ford design a vehicle that could function as a farm work truck through the week and deliver the family to church on Sunday in a clean, dry condition.

A twenty-two year old Ford designer, Lewis Thornet Bandt, produced a prototype of such a vehicle. In 1934, a Ford plant in Geelong, Australia rolled out the first 500 models of the modern day utility pickup truck.

Four-wheel drive vehicles have been tried in several incarnations since internal combustion powered vehicles were invented. Few innovations had been made in the basic technology until after World War II.

SUV Vehicles development evolved much faster. Light, fully enclosed “panel” trucks, station wagon style vehicles and pickup trucks began to become common but were still “work vehicles” until the middle 1950’s.

It was then that manufacturers began to market vehicles such as the Chevrolet Nomad, Ford Ranch Wagon and Chrysler Town and Country, all station wagons, as family vehicles.

Willys Jeep Wagon in 1948, the Land Rover Series II in 1958 and the International Harvester Scout in 1961 were leaders in combining passenger car, station wagon features with four-wheel drive. By 1969 most major manufacturers had added four wheel drive vehicles which each year reached closer to passenger car amenities. Almost all of these vehicles were constructed on light truck chassis. This fact was about to change the automobile manufactures world.

American Motors Corporation was still the manufacturer of Jeep in the early 1970’s and successfully petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency to classify the Jeep Cherokee as a light truck. This allowed them less stringent standards for emissions and fuel mileage. All other manufacturers soon jumped on this bandwagon with vehicles that had luxury interior and exterior appointments built on a light truck chassis and having 4×4 capabilities. The Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) was born.

Four wheel drive vehicles were portrayed as evidence of the owners “life style.” Fathers could haul the whole family around without being seen in a sissy mini-van. Women loved that the height of the vehicles gave them increased visibility and the size an increased feeling of security.

Manufacturers played to these images and soon these vehicles were the source of most of their sales. Genuine four wheel drive was soon replaced by full time four wheel drive options. It didn’t matter by then as most were too expensive to take off road and most owners didn’t purchase them to drive off of the pavement anyway. The vehicles still have a small amount of utility value being larger than most cars but the sport value has long ago disappeared.

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