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Jeep

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What is Jeep?

A small, durable, general-purpose motor vehicle with four-wheel drive and a quarter-ton capacity, used by the US Army during and after World War II.

Jeep is a brand of American automobiles that is a division of FCA US LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The former Chrysler Corporation acquired the Jeep brand, along with the remaining assets of its owner American Motors, in 1987. The division is headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Jeep's current product range consists solely of sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles, but has also included pickup trucks in the past.

The original Jeep was the prototype Bantam BRC. Willys MB Jeeps went into production in 1941 specifically for the military, arguably making them the oldest four-wheel drive mass-production vehicles now known as SUVs. The Jeep became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the United States Army and the Allies during World War II, as well as the post-war period. The term became common worldwide in the wake of the war.

 

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Development of Jeep:-

Bantam Reconnaissance Car:-When it became obvious that the United States was eventually going to become involved in the war raging in Europe, the U.S. Army contacted 135 companies asking for working prototypes of a four-wheel-drive reconnaissance car. Only two companies responded to the request: American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland. The Army had set what seemed like an impossible deadline of 49 days to supply a working prototype. Willys asked for more time, but was refused. The bankrupt American Bantam Car Company had no engineering staff left on the payroll and solicited Karl Probst, a talented freelance designer from Detroit. After turning down Bantam's initial request, Probst responded to an Army request and commenced work, initially without salary, on July 17, 1940.

Probst laid out full plans for the Bantam prototype, known as the BRC or Bantam Reconnaissance Car, in just two days, working up a cost estimate the next. Bantam's bid was submitted, complete with blueprints, on July 22. While much of the vehicle could be assembled from off-the-shelf automotive parts, custom four-wheel drivetrain components were to be supplied by Spicer. The hand-built prototype was completed in Butler, Pennsylvania, and driven to Camp Halberd, Maryland, for Army testing September 21. The vehicle met all the Army's criteria except engine torque.

As World War II had already begun in Asia, with Japan expanding in China, Manchuria and Southeast Asia, the Imperial Japanese Army was using a small four-wheel-drive car for reconnaissance and troop movements, having introduced the Kurgan Type 95 in 1936.

Willys MA and Ford GP:-The Army felt that the Bantam Company was too small to supply the number of vehicles it needed, so it supplied the Bantam design to Willys and Ford, who were encouraged to make their own changes and modifications. The resulting Ford "Pygmy" and Willys "Quad" prototypes looked very similar to the Bantam BRC prototype, and Spicer supplied very similar four-wheel drivetrain components to all three manufacturers.

Fifteen hundred of each of the three models (Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP, and Willys MA) were built and extensively field-tested. Delmar "Barney" Roos, Willys-Overland's chief engineer, made design changes to meet a revised weight specification (a maximum of 1,275 lb (578 kg), including oil and water). He was thus able to use the powerful but comparatively heavy Willys "Go Devil" engine, and win the initial production contract. The Willys version of the car would become the standardized Jeep design, designated the model MB and was built at their plant in Toledo, Ohio. The familiar pressed-metal Jeep grille was actually a Ford design feature and incorporated in the final design by the Army.

Since the War Department required a large number of vehicles to be manufactured in a relatively short time, Willys-Overland granted the United States Government a non-exclusive license to allow another company to manufacture vehicles using Willys' specifications. The Army chose Ford as the second supplier, building Jeeps to the Willys' design. Willys supplied Ford with a complete set of plans and specifications. American Bantam, the creators of the first Jeep, built approximately 2700 of them to the BRC-40 design, but then spent the rest of the war building heavy-duty trailers for the Army.

 

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