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All Tests

  AWD 2 - Jeep 2

From No. W-2015330 on the bonnet, an early Bantam design.

The rest is quickly told, because on the Monday in question, Bantam is the only candidate that really meets all the criteria, apart from the little white lie about the kerb weight. Willys only promises to hand over the construction drawings on time, while there is no sign of Ford. So the race is on for Bantam to build a prototype. They work on it day and night.

What the people at Bantam probably don't know at the time is that the design is being passed on to competitors. So while one is desperately hurrying, the others are taking more time. Ford has obviously been called in. Bantam is thus the only company that also meets the second time limit. Barely a day is left for testing and slight modifications.

As if that were not enough, the prototype also has to cover the distance to the specified military site on its own wheels. Nowadays, that's a comfortable 450 kilometres of interstate. Back then, it must have been a little more complicated. Nevertheless, the prototype once again makes it just before the deadline.

No mercy, the prototype is immediately subjected to short tests. Don't worry, it passes them. And Probst and Crist also survive the question about its true weight, this time answered honestly. Except that the real comparison battle is still to come. After all, they have the order for 70 prototypes in the bag.

A lot must have happened behind the scenes. Not only do competitors have the drawings, they are being driven because the military fears Bantam will be too small to produce the huge contingents of vehicles. And although this company was the first and lays the foundation, it will lose out.

Of course, it is known that the Jeep is ultimately the responsibility of Willys Overland. Ford seems to be somehow forced into it, building under licence, so to speak, even if they stamp their own logo on every part. It is the powerful engine and the much larger operating area compared to Bantam that ultimately lets Willys win. And this despite the fact that their model is the heaviest and has to be slimmed down.

After all, all three companies still receive the planned 1500 order, which saves Bantam a little for the time being. After that, however, all that remains is the production of parts, e.g. Jeep trailers. Now one has to take the organisation of this tendering process a bit in its stride, because after all, there is a war going on, at the end of 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Habour.

Willys Go Devil Engine 2.199 cm2 (79,4 mm * 111,1 mm), I-4, 6,48 : 1, sv, Liquit cooling, 142 Nm at 2000 rpm, 41/45 kW (56/61 HP) at 4000 rpm, 1940

The birth, so difficult, will successfully go its way. Who knows how high the Jeep's share in the Allied victory may be. It is said to owe its name to the brash expression of the Ford designation 'GP', the abbreviation for 'General Purpose' (versatility). There are other possible explanations.

Let's spare ourselves the love of individual soldiers for their Jeep and the further, but actually unsuccessful variants. Nevertheless, decisive things happen during the war and towards the end. For example, Willys takes out a patent on the name. At a relatively early stage, civilian production was also considered.

It is astonishing and yet explainable that Ford does not make any claims after the war. The patent mentioned may have been one reason. Perhaps much more important is the fact that they wanted to address the expected huge demand for passenger cars and vans. The success here ultimately proved Ford right as No. 2 in the USA.

And Bantam? Some of the 1,500 Jeeps will take adventurous routes to Europe and Russia. After that, cars were never produced again. In 1956, the company was taken over by a steel producer. That left only Willys. Here, the company had adapted relatively early to post-war production. From the end of 1945 to 1949 there is a boom.

Willys had a problem, namely the pressing of sheet metal in large series. Before the war, appropriate suppliers were found. But they prefer to deliver larger quantities than Willys can process. And it is not worthwhile to have one's own presses. Finally, manufacturers of sheet metal for washing machines, for example, could be found with sufficient quantities.

After all, American washing machines are somewhat larger than European ones. Nevertheless, one has the feeling that the successors to the Jeep, especially the Station Wagon, look it: Jeep in the front, maybe a refrigerator in the back? Unfortunately, some of them still try to imitate the wooden design of the others.

But it is easy to scoff at the vehicles produced immediately after the war. The closed version is joined by an open one as a pickup, which, in contrast to the former, retains all-wheel drive. And of course there remains a civilian version of the Jeep. Other innovations include a six-cylinder and the Jeepster, a kind of roadster with a closed top.

As an aside, towards the end of the boom, the Station Wagon is also available as an all-wheel-drive version. The company thus rightly insists that it has brought the first Sports Utility Vehicle onto the market.

The post-war Jeep advances from the CJ-2A to the CJ-3A

From 1950 onwards, there is a new conflict that will keep the world on tenterhooks, the Korean War. This is a stroke of luck for Willys, as a lot of the now improved Jeeps are needed. They have become somewhat larger and now have an ohv engine, called the 'Huricane'. After all, it now produces 53 kW (72 hp) instead of 46 kW (63 hp).

If you look at the model range in later years, you will easily come to the conclusion that over all these years it was essentially the Jeep that was built and otherwise by-products. This would be a false impression, as it would ignore the desperate struggle to expand the product line, e.g. even to 'normal' passenger cars.

However, there are also opposing trends. For example, the GoDevil engine (pictured above), which was repeatedly added to the range instead of or in addition to the Huricane. It was not until the 1971 model year that it finally disappeared, actually a little late for a side-steered engine.

When a new model is expected every year, as in the USA, one cannot hope for too many innovations. Frequent model changes promote more the modification of technically less important components, e.g. a tapered radiator grille (picture above). First and foremost, work is done for the eyes. The new model must be recognisable as such.

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