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Brief History of the ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ Term

• CATEGORIES: Features

UPDATE: Terry points out that Ford used the marketing term “Sports Utility” in 1966 ads. Previous to that, in 1947, Crosely marketed a “Sports Utility” vehicle.

Crosely (see bottom of the ad):
1947ish-crosley-ad-sport-utilityThis 1966 ad for the Ford Bronco has text near the bottom that reads, “Try the Wagon, Roadster, or Sports Utility at your Ford dealer now”. The Sports Utility model is the one with the half cab:


Here’s a 1966 Ford Commercial that identifies each of the models:


Original Post Jan 31, 2019: Dan ‘Scramboleer’ spotted this Motor Trend March 2019letter-to-the-editor about the origin of the term ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’. Essentially, Jeep’s marketing department was attempting to cease the use of the term jeep-like (and similar jargon) to describe offload vehicles. The concern was that it was diluting the value of the Jeep Trademark. So, they came up with the term Sports Utility Vehicle idea. The Journalists took it from there, shortening it to SUV.



6 Comments on “Brief History of the ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’ Term

  1. DPS

    Thank you all for sharing this. Really fascinating! It’s so helpful to hear the story told from those who were “present at the creation.”

  2. Dan B.

    Really appreciate the effort the author put in to educate the rest of us. Wish I had a time machine to go back and interview engineers, leaders, factory workers etc. to describe what it was like working at Willys (and all its variations) over the years.

    Thanks for posting this, Dave.

  3. David Eilers Post author


    Great point! I’ve found a commercial and an ad that confirms your argument. It turns out that Crosely first used the term for one of its models in 1947!

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