World War II saw the creation of one of America’s most beloved vehicles, the Jeep. Now primarily produced for consumer use, the Jeep was once a military workhorse designed to move troops, help the wounded and more. The story of the Jeep begins in the late 1930s, when the United States military was searching for a vehicle that was light, rugged and could travel over rough terrain. By the early 1940s, the Jeep’s design was complete, and the rest is history. Here are 20 facts about World War II Jeeps.
1. The first version of the Jeep was produced by the American Bantam Car Company, who won a bid between three companies. They were not the lowest bidder, but they believed they could produce a test model within the military’s tight time span of just 75 days. The vehicle was completed in time, and carried the name “Blitz Buggy’.
2. The United States military encouraged both Willy’s-Overland Motors and Ford Motor Company to build test models, as American Bantam Car Company lacked the production ability that both Willy’s and Ford offered. Representatives from both companies watched and studied the vehicle as it was being tested by the military in October of 1941. The military claimed to own the designs and turned them over to both companies. In just a few weeks, both companies had test vehicles available. The vehicles had the names Willy’s Quad and Ford Pygmy.
3. In the end, all three companies were awarded the contracts. Each vehicle received a new name; American Bantam’s was named the “BRC 40,” Willy’s was named the “Willy’s MA” (Model A) and Ford’s was named the Ford GP.
4. The United States decided to choose one manufacturer, Willy’s Overland Motors, to build the Jeep. Willy’s won the contract due to its engine being the more powerful of the three and, as such, an order for 16,000 vehicles was placed. These models were designated Willy’s MB (or, Model B)
5. The Jeeps were simple in design. The 1941 Willy’s MB had a push button start, literally. To start the Jeep, you had to push a button on the floor. There were no keys.
Courtsey: War History