WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — With the ability to navigate through rugged terrain, along with its speed, the Jeep played a major role in World War II.

Around 650,000 Jeeps were produced during the war, and at least one of them is in Wichita Falls today. Larry Gunnell, the man who spent years restoring the old jeep said today happens to be the vehicle’s 80th birthday.

“I like calling it a piece of history,” Gunnell said.

Gunnell acquired this Jeep back in 2011 and says it was in pretty rough condition.

“We’ve done a lot of work on this,” Gunnell said. “We had to replace a lot of them, especially the horizontal sheet metal; it was pretty badly rusted through, and again we wanted to bring it back to essentially factory-new status.”

After years of hard work, the Jeep is in its original condition, except for a few modern modifications. Gunnell said he actually got a chance to drive this exact Jeep back in the 80s.

Now, roughly 30 years later, he owns it.

“It belonged to Don James, the Editor of Times Record News, and we had an antique car club, and this was part of our display for World of Wheels, so I had a chance to take it down to World of Wheels and put it in a display down there,” Gunnell said. “And on one other occasion I had a chance to drive it in the late 80s, but I never dreamed I would actually own it or have it here at my house.”

The best part: it still runs today. As you can imagine, Gunnell turns some heads when he’s out on the road.

“We get some head shakes, and we get some smiles and waves and so forth, and if we do it right, maybe me and you can go for a ride,” Gunnell said.

Not only did Gunnell take me for a spin, he even let me drive it – an experience that he said never gets old.

“It’s hard to say what the favorite part is, there’s so many to choose from; I guess just the nostalgia, the pleasure and being able to share it, especially with kids, some things from the past and let them kind of connect with the past,” Gunnell said.

A past that included a war to preserve their freedom, with the help of a little vehicle that Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower called “One of three decisive weapons that won the war.”

Gunnell said some of the modern changes made to it include installing seatbelts because it had none, and adding an electronic ignition conversion.