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The Yipao (Jeepao)

How this particular vehicle used in the Second World War helped the development of an entire country. 

During the Second World War, the US Army approached several automotive manufacturers to design a General Purpose (GP – ‘jeep’) Vehicle suitable for personnel, cargo carrying, and all-terrain, built to specific dimensions, easily repairable, and lighter than existing vehicles. Willys won the contract with their powerful engine and lower cost. The Willys MB model was produced and eventually, the Ford Motor Company manufactured a similar model. Their vehicles were dependable for paved roads, deep mud, sand, and even in the sea. Around Willys MB 350.000 units were produced in a three-year period. 

At the conclusion of the war, Colombia was in a positive stage of progress and, in order to boost the economy and further development of the country, the Colombian Ministry of Defence imported 300 units of Willys MB model. Initially, their excellent off-road performance combined with the fact they were not going to be used anymore were the main attraction. 

In 1946, the 300 Willys MB units arrived in the country. Since then, Willys MB, or simply ‘Jeeps’, became an important component for the growth of the Colombian economy. 

In the beginning, they were used as payment for coffee bulk cargo, to facilitate the transport of farmers’ goods. Jeeps were eventually used for both people and cargo carrying. 

In 1959, more jeeps were introduced to the country. Nevertheless, after thirty years of continuous growth, the price of the coffee bean plummeted and farmers started to move to the cities looking for a better future, and many vehicles were used exclusively for traveling from towns to cities. 

Today, jeeps are still used for tourism and for coffee, plantain, and general transportation, especially in the region of Quindío, Risaralda, and Valle del Cauca. Since 1988, in Armenia, Quindío, yearly there is a Yipao Parade, where these vehicles are fully loaded with heavy objects such as coffee sacks, TVs, and many kinds of furniture before being driven through the streets.