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2013-06-05 10:26

RETURN OF THE WILLYS: Owner Vittorio Argento brought his 70-year-old Jeep home to the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, all the way from Italy. Image: Chrysler

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Iconic 4x4 specialist Jeep heads to the 2013 Geneva International Motor Show with three European premières - the new Grand Cherokee, Compass and Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition model.

TOLEDO, Ohio - An original Willys Jeep MB model has made its way home to Toledo, Ohio, all the way from Italy in time for its 70th birthday.

After leaving Italy and crossing the Atlantic, the forefather to the current Jeep Wrangler has been driven more than 1600km across the three American states - New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio - to reach Chrysler Group's Toledo Assembly Complex - which also happens to be where it was built 70 years earlier.

TRACING BACK

After the prodigal unit rolled off the Toledo assembly line it was shipped across the Atlantic for delivery to the US Army on June 3, 1943, a month before it was to land in Sicily.

According to the Chrysler Group, the vehicle was derived from the military Willys Quad built in 1941 for the US Army by Willys-Overland and was the forefather to the first civilian Jeep, the CJ-2A.

With a few modifications the Willys Quad then became the MA, and later the MB – what we all came to know as the Jeep.

The matching serial and frame numbers of the homecoming Willys are 238.746. Army registration 20341061 is an estimate based on a number stamped on the frame.

At the end of the Second World War the now back home Willys was transferred to the Italian Army, which put it into service as EI 21574.

The Willys was sold to private owners and was bought by current owner, Vittorio Argento, in April 1984. Argento is also the director of the 'back home' operation that brought the Jeep back to its birthplace after 70 years.

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