Fancy test driving a new Jeep? Or getting what is amiguously referred to as ‘preferential purchase rates’? Then if you’re not a member of the Harley-Davidson Owners Group (H.O.G), you might want to find a friend who is.
The two American automotive companies have partnered at events for the last four years. And in 2017, the Jeep range will be available at even more Harley Davidson events throughout Europe. Also at the big events will be a Jeep Lounge for hospitality, and merchandise will be on sale. Plus there’s than special purchase deal for H.O.G members.
Obviously the previous promotions must have worked out well. If someone owns a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, then they tend to have a reasonable amount of disposable income. And also tend to prefer American-made vehicles over the alternatives from Europe and Japan.
Plus both brands have a long history and plenty of associations with adventurous trips on the open road.
We probably shouldn’t point out Jeep wouldn’t exist without British car firm Austin.
It was actually the American Austin Car Company that led to the creation of the iconic off-roader. That firm went through restructuring shortly before the start of World War 2, and had created the Bantam, which was sold to the British and Russian armies. When American needed a rugged military vehicle, the Bantam was the first prototype offered up. And it was only when the small company couldn’t meet demand that Willys Overland stepped in, producing vehicles alongside the Ford Pygmy alternative.
Following WW2, Willys ended up being sold to the ironically named Kaiser Motors in 1953. It was actually an American company, much like the American Motors Corporation which swallowed it up in 1970. And since 1987, the various incarnations of Chrylser have been in charge of the Jeep brand.
All of that means Jeep is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Which is an Italian controlled manufacturer, registered in the Netherlands and headquarted in the UK for tax purposes.
In another weird turn of events, Walter P Chrysler was actually brought in by bankers to try and turnaround the Willys-Overland Motor Company in 1919, with a salary of $1 million for two years. Chrysler wasn’t able to wrestle control from John Willys, so instead bought up the Maxwell Motor Company, and then phased it out to become Chrysler. Walter P Chrysler died in 1940, almost 50 years before his firm finally managed to take control of the American off-road brand.
Not only that, but his time at Willys also involved the legendary trio of automotive engineers Frederick Morrell Zeder, Owen Ray Skelton and Carl Breer, who became known as the ‘Three Musketeers’. They were persuaded to move to Willys-Overland by Chrysler, and worked on a prototype which eventually became the 1924 Chrysler Six, which was possibly second only to the Ford Model T for impact on the automobile industry, and said to be the first modern motor car.
A little bit of a digression, we’ll admit. But also fascinating. Especially when compared to Harley Davidson, which has largely been family-owned through it’s history. There was a period of ownership by AMF, during which the brand suffered, and it was eventually back in the family following a management buyout.
Either way, it makes marketing sense for two American brands to team up. So if you fancy a Jeep, listen for the trademarked rumble of your nearest Harley owner and politely enquire if they’re a H.O.G member.