Willys MB Jeep 1942

In 1938, with war clouds gathering over Europe, the US Army decided to replace its motorized motorcycle-sidecar combinations (used for messenger and advance reconnaissance duties) with a small, general-purpose vehicle.

Willys MB Jeep 1942
Willys MB Jeep 1942

Willys MB Jeep 1942

  • YEAR REVEALED  1942
  • PLACE OF ORIGIN  Toledo, Ohio
  • HISTORICAL STATUS  production car
  • ENGINE  four-cylinder, 134ci (2,199cc)
  • MAXIMUM POWER  60bhp
  • LAYOUT front-mounted engine driving all four wheels
  • BODYWORK  four-seater utility
  • TOP SPEED  60mph (97kph)
  • NUMBER BUILT  363,000 (plus 280,000 made by licensee Ford, and 2,675 by Bantam)

It let American motor manufacturers know its requirements in 1940, and three companies responded with prototype vehicles-Willys Overland’s Quad, the American Bantam Car Co.’s Blitz Buggy, and the Ford Motor Company’s GP. After a protracted and complex bidding process, Willys’s concept for a light 2,106lb (955kg), maneuverable, and powerful all-purpose vehicle, capable of carrying troops as well as weapons, was selected for production.

It boasted selectable two-or four-wheel drive-a true breakthrough. It went on to serve in every major World War II campaign as a machine-gun firing mount, reconnaissance vehicle, pick-up truck, frontline limousine, ammunition bearer, wire-layer, and taxi. In the Ardennes during the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge, Jeeps loaded with stretchers, raced to safety ahead of spearheading Nazi armor.

In Egypt, Britain used a combat patrol of Jeeps to knock out a fleet of fuel tankers en route to German Field Marshal Rommel’s armour forces on the eve of the battle of El Alamein. “Jeep” soon became a household word, many assuming it was a slurring of the acronym GP, for General Purpose. Willys offered civilian editions from 1945, and the Jeep name was registered as an international trademark five years later.

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