At the end of WW2, the Philippines was flooded with jeeps left by the departing US Army. As a testament to Filipino creativity and mechanical ingenuity, many of these were extended into little buses, or as they are known in the Philippines, jeepneys, and have become a major part of Filipino culture and piece of cultural identity.
The jeepneys have also been the subject of really beautiful and astounding painting and decoration. There is a whole set of rules of etiquette for riding on a jeepney, and although I don’t know this from personal experience, one can get the basic idea by watching videos online. A jeepney makes a couple quick appearances in the Black Eyed Peas Filipino language music video, Bebot.
However, another aspect of Filipino jeep related creativity that I find fascinating is their development of stainless steel jeep bodies. Although jeeps are very robust, including the original Willys jeeps from WW2, they are subject to rust, particularly in the warm salty air of a tropical island. Instead of dealing with a rusting out body, the Filipino solution is to make one of out stainless steel. Not only is it an incredibly practical solution, they are very beautiful to look at.
Peter Greenberg’s Stainless Steel Jeep
CBS News journalist Peter Greenberg describes his difficult acquisition of one in this piece in Autoweek. Although the number of craftsmen who know how to make these stainless steel jeep bodies has decreased in recent years, as open air jeeps have fallen out of favor in the Philippines in favor of enclosed cars with air conditioning and other amenities, it is possible to buy these stainless steel bodies in the United States, and there is a small company that imports them from the Philippines. All you get is the stainless steel body, and you have to use that to build your own jeep. There are some really great photographs showing someone doing just such a project.
You can find another detailed description of jeep assembly by the Vogt family with pictures. This is really a beautiful looking piece of work.
There are some videos on YouTube showing them. Admittedly, the quality of the videos is not that great, as it’s just someone with a handheld camera walking around the jeep, but you get the idea.