Although forever associated with Willys-Overland, the original Jeep military vehicle was developed by American Bantam, formerly American Austin. Designed to meet the US Army's requirement for a rugged, go-anywhere, four-wheel-drive vehicle capable of surviving on the barest minimum of unskilled maintenance, Bantam's prototype was up and running by 1940, meeting the Army's requirements apart from the engine, which was deemed insufficiently powerful. The Pentagon though, doubted Bantam's ability to meet the military's post-Pearl Harbour demands so the major contracts went to Willys - the only other firm that had submitted a tender - and the Ford Motor Company, which would be responsible for the Jeep's trademark slotted radiator grille. Willys made various modifications to take advantage of a revised maximum weight requirement, which meant it was able to use its relatively heavy but adequately powerful 'Go Devil' engine. It was in this revised form that the Jeep would enter volume production. Willys-Overland's final production version was the Model MB, Ford's being designated the Model GPW. There were subtle differences between the two versions, Ford's having its components marked with the letter 'F'.
After extensive field testing, the Jeep's off-road capability was first publicly demonstrated early in 1941 when one was driven up the steps of the United States Capitol by Willys's test driver, Irving 'Red' Haussman. Produced by the million, the ubiquitous Jeep saw service in every theatre of the Second World War and continued in military service with armies world-wide for several decades thereafter. Today the Jeep remains highly sought after by discerning military vehicle enthusiasts.
Finished in traditional military olive green livery, this Willys Jeep was first registered for the road on 1st April 1947 after its service career was over. The canvas roof is in good condition and the tyres are all serviceable, and the vehicle comes complete with canvas side screens and the usual accoutrements of shovel, axe, jerry can, etc. Presented in generally good-to-very-good condition, starting readily, 'DPY 683' is offered with its original buff logbook, sundry bills, old (copy) and current V5C documents, and MoT to November 2016. Welcome at any gathering of military vehicles, this well presented and well equipped Willys Jeep would also be ideal period transport for next year's Goodwood Revival meeting.