Foreign king was intrigued by early Jeepster

Editor Peter G. “Pete” Mozzone saw the importance of the news, albeit from 1948, when he blazoned it on the cover of a recent edition of Jeepster News, (Volume 53, Issue 5). The headline read, “First Jeepster ‘Fit for a King,’” and that statement rang true.

 

The cover shows three views of the proposed 1948 Jeepster at the Toledo, Ohio, plant being inspected by King Michael of Romania. If you recall geography, Romania is a Balkan country in southeastern Europe, with an intriguing history of wars and communism. The photos on the cover continue the tale inside the issue, with the same prototype Jeepster being given a close eye by the king, with differences from the production model (which added vent windows).

Prince Michael was named king in the summer of 1927 as a 5-year-old kid. He died in 2017 as “the only sovereign in the world who lived 90 years after the crowing,” said Mozzone. Truth be known, his father reclaimed the crown in 1930 but abdicated in September 1940, which was a time of war due to Nazi schemes.

Michael, at age 22, showed spunk by ordering the arrest of the country’s military marshal, who had sided the Romanian army with the Nazi regime. Mozzone added that the King’s decision put the army on the side of the Allies, reportedly shortening World War II by some six months. In effect, that move saved “hundreds of thousands of lives.” So, in 1948, it was good news for the king to pay a visit to see the prototype Jeepster.

He certainly had the time. The King’s future soured when, in 1947, he was forced into abdication and exile. He bounced around to Italy, Switzerland and England, owning five Swiss abodes during his life. He married in June 1948, so he and the envisioned new Jeepster had something in common with that being an important year.

The concept of a sporty Jeep (hence the Jeepster) still lingers in American history to this day. Regardless of the maker, the Jeep and Jeepster concept have a long history. Still, Mozzone ponders why the Romanian King came to pay his respects at the plant. Maybe a reader can solve that mystery.

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