‘FAC’s Jeep division may own the trademark, but the original general-purpose vehicle produced for the U.S. Army for World War II was a group effort by the American automobile manufacturers and their suppliers.
Recognizing the need for what it considered a reconnaissance vehicle with 4-wheel-drive, the U.S. Army issued a request for prototypes for consideration. Bantam and Willys-Overland responded, but only Bantam, a Pennsylvania-based company as small as its name might indicate, was able to meet the deadline.
The Army tested Bantam’s vehicle, though soon realized that both Bantam and its engine were too small. So the Army turned to Willys and Ford to advance the project and to take it into production, rolling out more than 600,000 such general-purpose vehicles for the war effort, each producing what came to be known as the Jeep, although that brand wouldn’t be placed on vehicles until Willys began post-war production for civilian use.
Of course, military jeeps would become mixed and matched in the battlefields, and thus the Pick of the Day, a 1942 Ford GPW Army Jeep (serial number 61861), which is being offered by a private seller through an advertisement on ClassicCars.com along with a Bantam MBT trailer.
“Museum quality frame-off restoration of the Jeep just completed,” reports the seller, located in Payson, Arizona.
“Documented evidence that this is a rare as-built Ford GPW built on a frame made by AO Smith Company to Willys MB specifications, which dates the build between mid-1942 and late-1943 before Ford was producing its own frames.
“According to the serial# it was delivered to the Army Sept 3, 1942. All original and OEM parts used, including script F parts where appropriate. Everything on the Jeep is perfect and great attention was paid to historical accuracy.”
The seller says the only “incorrect” items on the vehicle are its Willys rather than Ford engine and the routing of the exhaust.
As for the trailer, it was acquired in a US military surplus sale from a base in Japan.’
- Classic Cars Journal, 11/2/2020