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The Willys Jeep is a light reconnaissance vehicle first produced in 1941. This model was produced by two suppliers, Willys and Ford. The fast and practical vehicle was used very extensively by the US Army. Icon of the Second World War, the Willys Jeep, originally a reconnaissance vehicle, very quickly gained its reputation as a small all-terrain vehicle thanks to its versatility and its exceptional capabilities.
In 1940, the Army issued a call for bids to 135 manufacturers. The specifications were for a vehicle with four-wheel drive, 16-centimetre ground clearance, capable of carrying four persons and a 7.62 mm machine gun, a fold-down windshield, a height less than 914 mm, a very narrow track of 1.494 m enabling it to run on railway tracks after removal of the tyres, and a weight of no more than 590 kg. This very light weight was supposed to allow the vehicle to be lifted easily by men! It was impossible to achieve. Only three companies submitted bids: American Bantam Car Company, located in Pennsylvania, Willys Overland of Toledo and Ford Motor Company of Detroit. The Bantam bid was the winner, thanks to a talented engineer, Karl Probst, who built a better prototype, the Blitz Buggy, in a record time of 49 days. Bantam was not able to meet the required production rate. Willys and Ford were encouraged to improve their prototypes by the Quartermaster Corps, which forwarded the Blitz Buggy blueprints and patents, declared government property, to them.
In July 1941, Willys won the contract, mostly due to its 60 hp Go Devil engine, more powerful than the 40 hp Ford engine. Production of the Jeep began. The origin of the name of this small 4WD vehicle is uncertain: derivation from GP (General Purpose) to Jeep? an acronym such as “Just Enough Essentiel Parts”? or after the extraordinary character of Eugene the Jeep in the Popeye cartoons?
Restored with care, in its strict original configuration. Very good general state of presentation and working order.
The Willys Jeep has all its documents. French “Carte grise” registration certificate.
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