Classic American

The Jeep Story

It was July 11, 1940, when the US Army High Command made an announcement to 135 manufacturers that bids were now being accepted for a lightweight command and reconnaissance vehicle, something that would suit the Army’s needs for modernising its fighting fleet. Only American Bantam, Willys-Overland and Ford Motor Company responded. Price matters with all US government purchases, and the low bid for this proposed new vehicle was won by Willys-Overland Motors Inc (pronounced Will-is). However, it was decided to commission both Willys-Overland and Ford Motor Company to produce them, with Ford getting the rights by licence from Willys. Time was urgent and it was important to the US government that there be two sources for production of this new wartime vehicle, soon to be known as the Jeep.

What the Army wanted was a small, lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicle that would serve its purpose as a valuable asset on the battlegrounds. The Jeep provided a strongly built, nimble and nearly indestructible vehicle. It combined the best features of all three original prototypes and was a simplistic design. With an 80-inch wheelbase and small, compact four-cylinder 63 horsepower engine, it could power its way through almost anything. In fact, they were so tough that many Jeeps performed tasks well beyond their original design

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