By Matt Wolfe
“Be ready when opportunity comes. Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.”
―Roy D. Chapin Jr.
Roy Chapin Jr. saw a great opportunity when he purchased the Jeep brand from Kaiser Corporation on February 5th, 1970. Chapin wanted Jeep for two reasons; he wanted a vehicle he could take on his hunting and fishing trips, and he felt that Jeep could be extremely profitable for AMC.
Chapin was a longtime friend of Edgar Kaiser, then head of the Kaiser Corporation which owned Jeep. Kaiser had purchased Jeep from Willy’s Overland in 1953. Jeep had been fairly successful under Kaiser control, but by the late 1960’s Kaiser wanted to pursue other interests. Chapin, who had become chairman of AMC in 1967, had been trying to buy Jeep for some time, but AMC’s financial struggles had prevented him from doing so. By 1970, the waters around AMC had calmed and Chapin was finally in a position to acquire the brand.
Chapin bought Jeep for roughly $70 million. Despite Jeep’s established reputation, many felt that Chapin’s purchase was too big a gamble, calling it “Chapin’s Folly”. However, over the next half decade AMC would address Jeeps’ weaknesses by growing the dealer network, redesigning and refining Jeep’s popular models, and introduce new products like the Grand Wagoneer and the legendary Cherokee. In time, Jeep would become very a lucrative for acquisition AMC and one of the