Most days, I drive my SUV. I like sitting up high when I drive, and although I know I should probably get a vehicle that is better for the environment, at the same time, I really like it. In a perfect world, I would ride my bike everywhere, but since I travel all over the metropolitan Atlanta area every week, I unfortunately need an automobile.
It got me thinking about the history of the SUV. What was the first SUV ever and what did it look like? In my research, I found out that the answer depends on who you ask. According to How To Be A Retronaut, the first SUV was the Soviet “Pobeda,” which was produced in limited edition. However, that car was around from 1946-1958. There is evidence of SUVs that were produced way before 1946.
Let me point out here that we all know World War II took place from 1939-1945 and there were plenty of SUV-like military vehicles used then. But, for the sake of this question, I’m trying to find the first SUV passenger vehicle that was produced and sold to regular families, like today. According to this article called The History of the Sport Utility Vehicle, one of the first SUVs was Willy’s Jeep Station Wagon, but again, that wasn’t produced until 1946, and I was confident that if I kept searching, I could find an SUV made in the 1930s.
I’ve decided that the reason there is so much confusion around what exactly the first SUV was is because, according to Wikipedia, the term SUV is just a generic marketing term for a vehicle similar to a station wagon but built on a light-truck chassis. In other words, different people have different opinions about what exactly qualifies as an SUV. With that being said, I think I will be satisfied to conclude that the first SUV was the Chevrolet Carryall Suburban, which came out in 1935. Quickly following the Suburban was the GAZ-61 which was introduced 1938 (but not produced until 1940). So there you have it, although, I bet if I kept searching, I might even find some different answers to this question.
The Russian “Pobeda” (Translation: Victory)
Willy’s Jeep Station Wagon
Chevrolet Carryall Suburban
Image Credit: [Concept Carz]