AMERICAN MOTORS Corporation (AMC), the auto manufacturer with a reputation for appealing to squares, became hip in the early 1980s with what may have been the most dangerous vehicle on the market. By the time the Jeep CJ line was discontinued in January 1986, more than 570 lawsuits worth upward of $1 billion had been filed. Most cited the vehicle's tendency to roll over during routine driving conditions.

The Jeep was developed in 1940 to meet the U.S. Army's need for an off-road reconnaissance vehicle. The winning bidder, Willys-Overland, designed a 4-foot-high, 11-foot-long four-wheel-drive vehicle that quickly became beloved by soldiers. In the 1950s, while working on an improved military Jeep, Willys-Overland marketed a civilian version. Upon acquiring the Jeep business in 1970, AMC separated the ...

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