November 13, 1940 – Willys delivers its Jeep prototype

Approximately two months before this day in 1940 American Bantam Car Company delivered a prototype of what would come to be known as the Jeep to the US Army. Impressed, but not sold, the Army claimed ownership of the design and passed the blueprints on to Willys-Overland, with a few requests for changes. The resulting prototype was delivered by Willys on this day in 1940, thus beating out Bantam for the government contract to produce the vehicles. Eventually Ford was also selected to produce Jeeps for the war effort and Bantam was to produce Jeep trailers. The original Jeep designed by Bantam was created by Karl Probst. There were 2,765 of these Jeeps made, nearly half of which went to the British Army. The Army ultimately selected Willys and Ford to produce the Jeeps because they had the production capability to do so and because of the upgrades offered by the Willys prototype, which included a more powerful engine and four wheel steering. Willys-Overland and Ford produced approximately 640,000 Jeeps for the war, which was about 18 percent of all wheeled vehicles built by the US for WWII. There are several theories about where the name Jeep came from. Some believe it is a slurring of the acronym G.P., standing for General Purpose or Government Purpose, but there is no use of the acronym before the name originates. But there is a GPW acronym from Ford, standing for G for government, P designated the 80-inch wheelbase and W was for the Willys engine. Others attribute the name to Eugene the Jeep, Popeye’s jungle pet that could solve nearly impossible issues. However, the term Jeep was used in the Army as early as 1914 to refer to new test vehicles, including the precursor to tractors and the B-17 Flying Fortress. Pics:Original Bantam BRC – Public Domain1943 Willys Jeep – By Joost J. Bakker from IJmuiden – Willys Jeep 1943. Uploaded by Oxyman, CC BY 2.0

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