When we acquired the original black and white album of the Jeep Wagoneer, Wagoneer Delivery Wagon, and JTruck designs commissioned by Kaiser/Willys by the Brooks Stevens Design Group, I knew who to call to verify their authenticity. David Nutting and I had spoken on the phone a couple of times prior to the confirmation call I made to his home in Green Valley, Arizona, in 2014. He loved to talk about the workings of the group of men who were given the challenge of a lifetime (for most of us) by Mr. Kaiser: Design a Station Wagon that we can/will be able to compete with the Ford and Chevrolet Station Wagons that were becoming the family car of choice, and selling like gangbusters, in the late 1950-early 1960's. The Willys Station Wagon was first designed by Brooks Stevens, and manufactured by K/W beginning in 1947 after WWII, had had a long run and was still a boxy 1940ish looking Jeep (albeit lovable) but was in no position to take on the Big Boys of Detroit. A new look and style was called for, and that meant Brooks Stevens and company were summoned to Toledo, Ohio.
As David told me in a phone conversation from Arizona, the team returned home and immediately set about working on sketches. Nutting was a bit of a loner within this group of talented designers and immediately began to work on his own, while the others sort of collaborated and worked on a design in team fashion. With Toledo breathing down their necks, Mr. Stevens called a meeting a couple of days later to get a look at their progress. What he found were two distinctly different ideas and concepts were forming. While the "A" Team's renderings clearly resembled a low-slung Ford Station Wagon with a funky-looking 'Jeep' grill, Nutting's drawings took the new station wagon in a whole different direction. His stretches resembled something of a pickup/wagon hybrid with a unique new grill. Each side clamored loudly for their new design strategy to be given to K-W as the solution for the Jeep company, and after some consideration, Brooks settled it by telling both Nutting, and the consortium, to finish up their respective design work and they would present both design books to Mr. Kaiser. And let HIM make the decision. Mr. Kaiser decided with little fanfare, but much to the excitement of a young David Nutting, with the 'Wagoneer' look that went on to be built the following year, 1962, for the 1963 model year.
- as told to Chip Miller, Wagonmaster, 2012
Obituary from Green Valley News