AUBURN HILLS, Mich.– An original 1941 Willys MA is the focal point of an anniversary exhibition at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich., that celebrates one of the automotive industry’s most iconic vehicles.  70 Years of Jeep® runs April 19 – Dec. 30, 2011.

Featuring a changing array of eight production and concept vehicles, 70 Years of Jeep traces the vehicle’s evolutionary rise from military reconnaissance use to the transportation of choice in navigating all manner of terrain for millions of adventure-seekers.  The special exhibit also features historical images, memorabilia and extensive narrative that chronicles Jeep’s embodiment of freedom and pride for seven decades.

The Museum is showcasing Willys MA78621, one of approximately 45 known 1941 models in the world, an estimated 20 of which are restored.  Of the 20 restored vehicles, eight are in the U.S.  Willys MA78621 is on loan from the private collection of George and Bernadette Hollins of Palos Park, Ill. who have traced the vehicle’s origins back to July 5, 1941, the day it was delivered to the U.S. Army from the Willys-Overland plant in Toledo, OH.  It is believed to be one of four MA shipped to the 15th Infantry for testing in Fort Lewis, Wash.

Earlier this week, Jeep hinted at expanding its product lineup by building a pickup truck and, according to the latest reports, the new model has officially been given the green light.

The vehicle in question is said to resemble the 2005 Jeep Gladiator concept, using the Wrangler Unlimited platform but with two-doors and a bed in the rear. Said to be headed into production in 2011, it should arrive on dealer lots in 2012.