June 14, 2013 11:00 AM
After surviving World War II, a 1943 Willys MB finally returned
home to Toledo on June 3, exactly 70 years from its production
When it rolled off the assembly line in 1943, the vehicle (better
known as the original Jeep®) was sent to the U.S. Army in
After seven decades in Italy, the current owner Vittorio Argento,
an Italian radio journalist and history enthusiast, decided to
bring the Willys MB back for its 70th birthday. “I thought
that to bring the Jeep back here was a kind of a gift for its
birthday. It’s something romantic.”
Argento created the “A Jeep
Comes Home” campaign, having the vehicle retrace its
steps to the factory where it was built. The Willys MB began its
journey by being shipped by boat from Italy to New Jersey.
Once it arrived, Argento and his team continued their trip the
old-fashioned way, by driving the Willys MB from New Jersey to
Even though the original plant where the Willys MB was born has
been torn down, Argento was able to visit the Toledo Assembly
Complex, the birthplace for current Jeep Wranglers.
As Argento drove the Willys MB throughout Toledo Assembly, plant
workers huddled around to take pictures, cheer and even salute the
historic vehicle. The Jeep stopped midway to satisfy the admiring
gear-heads asking for a look under the hood.
The Willys MB was then parked next to a current edition of Jeep
vehicles, a Rubicon JK, which actually looked very similar. Even 70
years later, the Jeep vehicles have remarkable similarities.
And for just celebrating its 70th birthday, the Jeep still has
great off-road capabilities. The Willys MB drove up a grassy hill
with no issue for a photo-op at the giant “Jeep” sign
in front of the plant.
Argento purchased the vehicle in 1984 and was dedicated to be a
faithful restorer by keeping about 95% of the parts original.
Check out more photos on our Facebook page.