Make and Model History
This MB's History
In memory of Ray
Black, a W.W.II American Recon. veteran who met my Jeep at Point Lookout
State Park in Maryland. Ray and his wife, Mary, were camp hosts there.
They were a fun and hospitable couple. The first time I delivered mail
in the Jeep Ray recognized the sound of the muffler from a few camp loops
away. He would never ride in the Jeep, but would just stand staring
at it with his hand on the hood. Rest in Peace Ray.
Make and Model History
The story of the Jeep is not just a simple story of the military
producing an amazingly useful lightweight vehicle. This story begins
with companies down on their luck, late nights, long drives, and the production
by one small company of a battle ready prototype in 49 days. The beginnings
of the Jeep that developed during World War Two were with a small company
called the American Bantam Car Company.
The American Bantam Car Company was a struggling small car company in the
1930's. It was originally the American Austin Company and had already
gone bankrupt once and been reorganized by the late 1930's. One of the
main problems with the company was that it produced small cars which were
quite suitable to English roads, but did not match up to the expectations
of Americans who were used to larger automobiles. Bantam sought other
markets to branch into in order to survive, and in 1938 had the Pennsylvania
National Guard testing some of their cars. The PA National Guard took
a liking to them and believed with some modification that Bantam cars could
be put to military use. (Bantam BRC-40's in the postcard above
As Germany began to roll across Europe the Bantam company hired a lobbyist
to push Army brass to accept a small vehicle for military use.
According to varying sources between May and June of 1940 the military came
up with a set of characteristics desired in a light reconnaissance vehicle.
Bantam then set to work thinking about how to design a vehicle to match
the requirements. In a surprise move the Army Quartermaster Corps then
put out a bid request on July 11th to over 134 companies. Bantam pulled
some strings and managed to bring in designer Karl Probst who put together
a blueprint for the bid by July 22.
Willys Overland was the only other company to put a bid in on the 22nd.
The Willys' bid consisted of rough designs, and a request for more time to
build a prototype. On the other hand Bantam's design was ready to go
and they were willing to meet the delivery date for the prototype. Bantam
was awarded the initial contract. By September 22nd 1940 Bantam had
produced a reliable prototype using many off-the-shelf parts from their manufacturing
facility as well as other companies. This was driven to the Camp Holabird
testing grounds in Maryland by Mr. Probst and the plant manager, they arrived
a half hour before deadline.
The Bantam Jeep tested extremely well. Bantam went on to produce
another 69 prototypes. Willys and Ford representatives watched and
took notes on the testing though and then went back home to build their own
vehicles. Willys and Ford would return later with their prototypes
and Willys' vehicle would turn out as the favorite of the three. Bantam
would only end up
producing about 2,600 of their BRC-40's . Bantam would then be
shuffled off to produce trailers and other items as the military brass believed
that Bantam could not produce the amount of vehicles they needed.
Willys was given an initial contract for 16,000 vehicles on July 23, 1941.
Ford on November 10 of that year agreed to produce the General Purpose Willys
(GPW) using Willys blueprints. The Jeep continued to develop from there
with only minor alterations. Ford altered the original slat grill to
a pressed steel grill which Willys took up shortly after. There were
minor modifications for the spare tire and other parts which tended to rattle
or weaken, but overall the original design stuck through the war. (Willys MB in manual picture above left)
It would be easy to continue on from here into where the Jeeps served,
how they were used and who used them, but there are many good books on the
subject. There are many useful web sites as well. Suffice to
say that these vehicles which were never expected to last too long proved
far more durable than anyone imagined, and became a real mascot, friend,
and savior to Allied troops in World War Two.
This MB's History
The Jeep is the vehicle in our collection which has been with me
the longest. It has stayed with me through antique Chevy trucks, Corvairs,
Triumphs and musclecars. The Jeep has been our steady, reliable rock.
There is an old Russian tale about Rock Soup. A man asks if he can
borrow water to make a soup which he will flavor with a rock. Then he
asks for a carrot, some other vegetables etc.. until he eventually has an
amazing stew. Our Jeep is a similar story. It can probably be
said that our Jeep landed at both Anzio and Normandy. Unlike many
pedigreed Jeeps our 1944
Willys MB was part of a focused (and some might think insane) collecting
effort by one individual who bought a CJ 2A and then decided he wanted a W.W.II
Jeep. The first thing you may think is that this vehicle is a repro
tub on top of a CJ frame, but that is not the case. What you see is
a collection of original (many n.o.s.) and some reproduction parts gathered
together to create a highly authentic Jeep restoration.
The parts gathering began in the early 1980's when our friend, Scott Roberts,
brought home a CJ 2A. The vehicle was deemed too rusty to be restorable
so he set out to gather the parts for a WWII Jeep. By the late 1980's
the Jeep had come together and was being used regularly in military reenactments
as well as airshow and other living history displays. The Jeep
has traveled in many guises varying from 4th Armored to S.A.S. and others.
Amongst its many experiences in the last twenty years it has developed an
affinity for water. Its first experience with the ocean won it a purple
heart trophy. At the D-Day 50th anniversary in Virginia Beach the poor
Jeep went off the end of an LST and nosed into water which swamped its distributor. Frustratingly the water was
not too deep to drive through, but the Jeep stalled out and sat. It
was rescued late in the day by a reenactor with a weapons carrier.
By the mid 1990's Scott was my neighbor in Southern Maryland and the Jeep
lived behind his house. I occasionally drove it to the State Park I
worked at. It was popular with the visitors and with a Mr. Ray Black
who drove one in W.W. II. I used the Jeep for a couple of displays and
for mail delivery but eventually we parted ways as I moved up to Baltimore.
A couple years later I was prowling for a Jeep and called Scott to see
if he could recommend any for sale. Within a week he called back with
a generous offer to purchase his baby. He delivered it within a couple
of months. The Jeep arrived stacked deep in parts and other military
I used the Jeep for reenacting 1st S.A.S., then Airborne Recce, and finally
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. This Jeep was
rebuilt to be used so it has become a familiar site to many reenactors.
At airshows and reenactments I constantly run into people who remember getting
a lift in the Jeep at some point or another. I even ran into the fellow
who pulled it out of the water when it sank at Virginia Beach. Not only
has the Jeep served as a reenacting vehicle, it also goes to car shows, and
is driven on a regular basis. When the blizzard of February 2003
hit Baltimore Maryland, my Jeep was one of the only vehicles out on the roads.
I helped drive volunteers down town to dig out a historic tug boat, and unfortunately
got a close up view of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum roundhouse
after it collapsed.
All of this use of course took its toll, and by spring of 2005 the Jeep
developed numerous rust holes, rust through in channel support sections,
and mechanical issues. When the Jeep would not make it up a hill behind
my house with three people on board Scott suggested that we tear it down
and rebuild it. The summer of 2005 saw some high stress as my baby
was broken down into many pieces. We primarily ordered parts from George
Baxter of Army Jeep Parts. Scott has an amazing memory for how a Jeep
goes together and operates, so he tore it down and got into the transfer
transmission. I cut the rust out of the body with the help of my
friend, Bill Max in Virginia. Bill and I took the body to a fellow
he knows. This fellow graciously set aside his many other projects
and repaired all the rust holes on the Jeep body using replacement pieces,
and metal parts he fabricated. We had to replace one fender as it was
too badly rusted, but Scott dug up a solid original at Army Jeep Parts.
With the tub restored and the mechanics rebuilt we slowly moved towards
putting the Jeep together. I spent many evenings sanding and prepping
the tub and fenders. Labor Day weekend 2005 Scott and his very patient
significent other came down to our home. Scott and I spent the weekend
painting, assembling and more. By the end of the weekend we had the
Jeep in one piece, and within a month it was running again. It was
a joyous moment when I was once again able to take the Jeep for a ride through
the countryside. The photograph at the begining of this section (the
Jeep by a field) was taken on my second run after the rebuild. Now
the Jeep has all operational gears and feels strong as an ox. I cannot
thank Scott enough for his time, persistence, and patience in bringing the
Jeep back to its former glory.
One thing Scott insisted
on and I happily agreed with was repainting the Jeep in the British "Mickey
Mouse" camouflage scheme. This scheme serves to break up the profile
of the vehicle. Part of why this Jeep is so recognizable to so many
people as there are only a couple others stateside with this camouflage.
The Jeep also sports other typical British modifications like the marker
lights being mounted on the fenders. Camouflage on military vehicles
was more prevalent in WWII than most enthusiasts and self declared "experten"
realize. Take a look at enough photographs and you will even find pictures
of camouflaged American Jeeps. Recently, after being informed that
there were no Mickey Mouse Jeeps at D-Day, I found a photo in the book "Quarter
Ton" of Monty inspecting a camoflauged Jeep being loaded into a glider prior
to D-Day. I find that sweeping historic generalizations cannot be applied
to military vehicles, especially British ones.
Since 2005 the Jeep has participated in many reenactments and convoys. Notably
in 2007 and again in 2008 the Jeep drove in the WWII vehicle convoy from Thurmont,
MD to Eisenhower's Farm in Gettysburg, PA. Each time it performed without
any issues. In October of 2007 I showed the Jeep at the first annual Mason
Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering hosted by Mike Hardesty of Jeepchasm.com Photos
of the Jeep then appeared in the May/June 2008 issue of Low-Range magazine.
At the October 2008 Mason Dixon Willys gathering the Jeep took first
place in the military Jeeps category. Trusty, a bit battered, but definately
well loved and used, the Jeep captured enough hearts to win. Onward
and upwards to more Jeep adventures!
Info. and parts sources
Essential Military Jeep.
By Graham Scott
ISBN # 1-870979
Jeep Goes to War.
By Will Fowler
(I also used an article from Army Motors about the early Bantam Jeep.
As soon as I can locate it I will cite it here)
Homepage for the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. Go to
links for 1/4 ton vehicles and you will find many good Jeep pages.
Jeep chasm, a fun website about mainly civilian Jeeps.
This is George Baxter's company. We purchased most of the parts for
the second restoration from him. He is a very knowledgeable source. hair extensions uk
Peter Debella's Jeep parts. I have dealt with him while restoring
a friend's Jeep. He runs a good business and knows his Jeeps.
Beachwood Canvas Works carries canvas parts as well as other parts for
Jeeps and assorted Military Vehicles. These are great people to deal
with. I have much of their canvas on my Jeep and have been happy with
how it was worn over the years. lace wigs uk
This company makes parts here in the U.S. I ordered my hat channels
from them (these are the support channels under the body) I recommend
these channels over the Philippine ones which you will find most companies
refusing to carry nowadays. The parts arrived quickly and were well