This simple but extremely reliable and sturdy Jeep is undeniable one of the most significant vehicles in the history of America, specifically its critical role in the war. The Jeep probably saved the lives of countless men in battle, especially during the World War II. The jeep has been involved in thousands of war stories and is usually seen in photos and documentaries during the war.
The life of the Jeep started in late 1930’s after the United States started the feel the tension growing across the globe and decided that they need to update the Army’s old motorized fleet. Before the Jeep was built, the motorized fleet was composed of purpose built Model Ts, motorcycles with sidecars, and outdated tanks. One of the Army’s immediate necessities was a multi-purpose vehicle that was lightweight and could run on every terrain. The Army released a vehicle’s specifications and the bidding was started that was open to every automobile manufacturers.
Many probably thought that automobile manufacturers would happily grab the chance to form a profitable contract with the government, but to everyone’s surprise, only 2 companies joined at first – American Bantam and Willys-Overland. Ford was not too eager to join the bidding but finally stepped up. After initial testing and presentations, American Bantam won the contract and started to create their prototypes. Under the Army’s strict regulations and deadlines, Bantam was able to complete “The Blitz Buggy” on September 23, 1940, and delivered it to Camp Holabird, Maryland. Unfortunately, Bantam was a small company and did not have the financial capacity to deliver the production volume needed by the Army.
The government passed the torch to the more established Wills Overland and Ford. The two companies were asked to create their own designs. Two prototypes were built – the Ford Pygmy and Willys Quad, which were unsurprisingly similar to the Blitz Buggy. Probably because of the Army’s dire need to have a fully functioning motor fleet as soon as possible, the government tasked the 3 companies to build 1,500 vehicles which will be used for testing and evaluation.
After the testing, the Willys Quad out performance the other two and Willys was contracted to build 15,000 vehicles on its first production run. Soldiers loved the power and design of the Willys Quad and later on, its performance was tested in the heat of battle and proved its worth. But as the conflict grew in 1941, so did the Army’s demand and Willys could no longer keep up. Ford with its immense production capacity was again needed. Ford accepted the contract and produced the Jeep GPW (Ford’s model designation: G for Government contract, P – a vehicle with an 80” wheelbase, and W – Licensed by Willys). The historic Jeep that every American knows is actually the combination of all 3 prototypes which probably contributed to its success. The story behind how the name Jeep was created is a mystery and is probably better to keep it that way.
By the end of the World War II, Ford was able to build a total of 277,000 GPWs. Almost every single one of those GPWs served in the front which is probably why just a handful survived that war. This featured GPW is one of those rare survivors that has a very rich history. This GPW is not just a WWII veteran but it is also a movie star. Paramount Pictures used to own this GPW and the original pink slip is available to prove its celebrity status. It was included in a number of movies such as “Hell is for Heroes” with Steve McQueen and was under the direction of Don Siegel. It was also featured in “Is Paris Burning?” written by Francis Ford Coppola and Gore Vidal.
This 1944 Ford Jeep GPW has been properly restored and looks to be in a very solid and working condition. It comes in the standard dull green and still has the feel of a multi-purpose war vehicle, just the way how an Army Jeep should be. It also has a military ax, shovel, and jerry cans. The antenna mount has been nicely restored and the radio is fully functional. The simple but extremely reliable Ford GPW Jeep played a significant part of the American history. Add a Hollywood history, and this fully functional and solid Jeep is probably one of the greatest examples out there. A historic piece that reminds us of the strength and ingenuity of the American automobile industry.
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