I grew up on the West Side of Toledo, Ohio. As a kid in Toledo, Jeep was just part of the landscape. My childhood home was about two miles from the big Jeep plant in Toledo. Though I didn't understand the connection as a kid, I spent a lot of time on Willys Parkway. All of the local kids went swimming at Willys Pool. And a lot of my friends' parents (and now some of those friends themselves) worked at the Jeep plant.
As I got older, the historic and cultural significance of the Willys Jeep slowly came into focus for me. Willys was, of course, the local company that provided a huge number of Jeeps to the US, Britain, and the USSR in World War II. During WWII, Willys produced 363,000 Jeeps in comparison to Ford's 280,000. As much as the city gets made fun of (I'm looking at you, AP Bio, source of some of the best Toledo jokes on television) Toledoans can make some damn Jeeps.
Today when I logged into Forza Horizon 5 for a few lunchtime races, I got a ping that some kind soul had left me a gift in a barn. As is my custom, I abandoned all thoughts of racing and went ripping through the local fields and forests to see what I got. Lo and behold, it was a 1945 Willys Jeep, which is now my favorite vehicle in the entire game.
As someone who grew up and got the hell out of Toledo as quickly as humanly possible, I was surprised to feel a sudden burst of hometown pride to see Willys famous Jeep represented in the one of the biggest games of the year. I'm not going to move back to Toledo in celebration or anything, but still, it was pretty cool to think "Oh yeah, my grandparents made those." I plan on taking my new Jeep out tonight after work for a relaxing jaunt around Mexico. Come find me if you are bored, you can beat me in a race.