The Army Jeep: A GI’s Best Friend
Here at Empire, we love classic cars. Besides the bright, stunning exteriors and meticulously clean and fashionable interiors, we love to learn the history behind vintage and antique automobiles. That’s why we were so excited to see these vintage Army Jeeps during our visit to the 2012 Media Car Show.
Ever wonder where Jeeps came from?
Nowadays, Jeep is known as a worldwide brand of economy sized 4x4s and SUVs. From sleek SUVs such as the Compass and Patriot to rugged 4x4s such as the Wrangler and Liberty, Jeep has established their brand as affordable and family friendly. Although current Jeeps are great for daily use, during WWII, Jeeps were created in order to fulfill a need for military automobiles.
During WWII, Army officials were in need of transportation for their soldiers. The Army needed a lightweight alternative to heavy duty tanks and trucks that could withstand nearly any environment. Seeking a solution, the U.S. Army called upon the automobile industry to submit prototypes for consideration. Only a few companies, Willy Overland Motors, the American Bantam Car Company and Ford entered designs.
Although American Bantam Car Company’s prototype was initially selected, the company lacked the resources to meet the demand of vehicles needed. As a result, Willy Overland Motors, American Bantam, and Ford all competed for the lucrative U.S. Army contract. Due to timing, the military rushed to test vehicles from all three companies. After necessary changes were made, the models all received new names- Willy’s previous “Quad ” became the “MA”, American Bantam’s “Blitz Buggy” was now the “BRC 40″, and Ford’s Pygmy became the “GP”. Willy Overland Motors “MA” was selected in July 1941.
It was just in time. The U.S. Army was in dire need of vehicles, as WWII was already underway. The MA was shipped to the Allies overseas, and GI’s response was extremely favorable. In order to keep up with demand, Ford was called upon to produce additional vehicles. During the remainder of the war, MAs were transported by plane and glider to troops in battle. General George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff called the vehicle, “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare”.
Post WWII, Willy Overland and Ford pursued ownership of the “Jeep” name, which was awarded to Willy Overland. Another version of the vehicles was mass produced for farmers and civilians. Since, civilian 4x4s have continued to be produced by automobile companies worldwide.
Although the military continued to use Jeeps after WWII, they eventually progressed to the HMMWE, created by American automotive company AM General. The HMMWE was a heavier, more durable vehicle, and is still the primary automobile for the U.S. Army.
*Active duty and veterans receive 15% off at EmpireCovers.com using coupon code USMIL15.
The particular Jeeps pictured below, authentic U.S. Army Jeeps, were on display by the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum.The non-profit museum, also located in Media, vows to “tell the stories of America’s conflicts” through the experiences of veterans. You can follow the PVM on Facebook.
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