Memorial Day is an important time for honoring those who have served and died in service of this country's military. Many vehicles on the road today are veterans in their own right. Military innovations have driven the automotive world since the beginning, so in tribute to that spirit, we'll take a look at some of the GI- and military- inspired vehicles for sale on

1946 Jeep

The early model Jeeps were rushed into production with the goal of mobilizing the United States military heading into WWII. Most of the US forces were completely unprepared as war broke out in Europe and the Pacific in the 1930s. Military leaders put out a call for a vehicle that could replace the horses that were still used at the time.

Production on the iconic Jeep started in 1941, and by the time this 1946 workhorse rolled off the lines, Nazi Germany had already fallen. Still, the versatile vehicles saw use in the military for long after. Eventually, the military vehicles spurred on enough public interest to start selling civilian models.

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2002 Jeep Wrangler

The modern lineage of those early military vehicles can be seen in this 2002 Jeep Wrangler. Constant evolution meant the little truck has evolved a lot over the years, but there is still a lot of the old Jeep in the modern truck.

The slotted grill (actually first developed by Ford) is now a design element that is used on the entire modern Jeep line.

This truck comes with a six-cylinder engine, four-wheel drive, a five-speed manual gearbox and a set of American flag graphics that seem appropriate given the patriotic nature of this holiday.

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2005 Jeep Wrangler 'Willys'

If the completely modern Wranglers have too little of the old Jeep's DNA for you, you might be interested in this 'Willys' throwback model from 2005.

The name 'Willys' is a nod to one of the earliest producers of the original Jeeps (over the years Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi and many more also made their own versions of the old military truck).

The Wrangler comes in olive green with military-style decals on the body. Dual tow hooks, a fold-down windshield and water-resistant camouflaged seats round out this truck's military credentials.

The truck also comes with a six-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive.

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1954 Chevrolet 3100 pickup

After WWII, the United States once again looked to its automotive industry for military vehicles. Trucks like this Chevrolet 3100 were used for hauling Army supplies during the post WWII era, and into the Cold War.

This particular truck has been restored with upgrades like a new wooden bed and a more modern drivetrain. The truck even comes with its own period-correct M1 Carbine rifle and two-way radio. The 3100 also features air conditioning and an automatic transmission.

The 307 V8 engine under the hood might not be original to the truck, but it should deliver more than enough power for this old military pickup.

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1985 HMMWV "Humvee"

No Memorial Day would be complete without mention of the brave troops who are fighting overseas today. As such we should take a look at the current crop of military-grade vehicles now selling on AutoTrader.

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV, is the current weapon of choice for today's military.

Like the Jeep of old, the Humvee's rugged design and distinctive looks won it a place in the public market. The civilian Hummer brand was famously born from actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's personal interest in the Humvee as a road-going vehicle.

He wasn't alone; eventually commercial sales of the Hummer H1 were at such a level that General Motors was able to launch a whole brand around the Humvee's image. The drop in demand for SUVs at the beginning of the Great Recession put an end to the Hummer brand, but the HMMWV is still serving the country proudly in its original role with the US armed forces.

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author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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