From the Collection

From Our Collection: The World Famous Willys Jeep

Whats in a name? The origins of the name Jeep have been argued over for decades and I can tell you with good authority that I still have no idea which story is true.

April 2, 2024

When I was a younger man my father and I didn't talk much, translation; didn't talk at all, as most teenage boys are I was full of myself (still am) and couldn't be told anything. That all changed on one spring day when my father decided to by an old jeep (CJ2A) to be exact. We had no idea what it was, never got it running, no matter how we tried but a funny thing happened, we became united in a cause and found common ground.

  As most things do with me, one led to another and things slowly got out of hand. We some how ended up with two jeeps, then three, then four, and so on. They had names like Bella, Patches, War Wagon, and the Weezer. Some ran, some didn't. Other items appeared like mid sized trucks, came and went. 

In 2007 a pending divorce caused me to shed most of my assets and the fleet dwindled. Finally ending up with just one, her name was Frankenstein. Frankie is a 1945 Jeep with a 1944 engine and is for the most part all original but the name was fitting given her salvaged parts from other dead jeeps. Still the pride of the collection, today she sits with a now again growing fleet of other vehicles here in our gallery. My father and I still cuss and fight, and do things the wrong way but in a time when everything just seemed to go wrong, the vehicles held the line for us. Gave us something to focus on, something to come together with. 

So we all know what we are talking about here is the details:

The Willys Jeep, commonly known simply as the Jeep, is a compact, rugged utility vehicle that played a significant role in military and civilian applications. The origins of the Jeep trace back to the early 1940s when the United States military sought a lightweight, four-wheel-drive vehicle for reconnaissance and transport purposes during World War II.

In 1940, the U.S. Army requested proposals from 135 automobile manufacturers for a compact, rugged, and lightweight 4x4 vehicle. Among the responses, the American Bantam Car Company, Willys-Overland Motors, and Ford Motor Company submitted designs. The resulting prototype, designed by Bantam, served as the basis for the subsequent development by Willys-Overland and Ford.

Ultimately, Willys-Overland won the production contract due to its ability to meet the military's rigorous specifications and scale production quickly. The first Willys MB models rolled out in 1941, followed by the Ford GPW, a nearly identical version produced by Ford under license.

The Willys Jeep became an icon of World War II, used for various purposes such as troop transport, reconnaissance, and even ambulance duties. Its rugged design, compact size, and impressive off-road capabilities made it invaluable in diverse terrains and conditions.

Yes it runs

Yes it has many dents

Yes it leaks (profusely at times)

Yes it stops (most of the time)

Riding in it is the equivalent of falling down stairs on your butt. 

So as for our current Jeep on display as said before it is a 1945 Willys MB. The only items that are not original are the rubber tires, the canvas on the seats and the paint on the metal. It is technically a post war jeep, made September 12th 1945. 

The history on this particular jeep is some what murky, it was severely damaged at one point and given the quality and style of the repairs it was probably repaired in an Army motor pool where they put in a newer T90 transmission as seen on the later M-38 series. It is currently on display with two tires in our WW2 area and two tires in our Korean War area.

You can see it here anytime or at one of our upcoming offsite displays. 

In the mean time...the next story begins.