The early Jeep which first appeared as the prototype Bantam BRC became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the US Army and allies during World War II and postwar period.
More Jeep History.
Wayne's Garage serving Eugene and Springfield, Oregon has been performing Jeep repair and service since 1973.
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Peep, Leapin' Leana, Blitz Buggy, Puddle Jumper, Willys, GP, Jeep. All names that have been given to the oldest off-road vehicle (also sport utility vehicle - SUV) brand, with Land Rover, which was based on the popularity of the Jeep, coming in second.
Around 1939 the US military needed a new, universal vehicle to replace its other vehicles (such as the modified Ford Model-T), so they invited 135 different car companies to compete for a contract to build a new vehicle for the military. The vehicle had to meet certain specifications, such as a payload capacity of 600lbs, a wheelbase under 75 inches, a fold-down windshield, a gross vehicle weight of under 1200lbs, and it must be four-wheel drive. Three companies entered the competition, Bantam, Ford, and Willy-Overland.
Bantam in 1940 was the first to produce a working prototype for the military, dubbed the Bantam Blitzbuggy and "Old Number One". Willy's-Overland and Ford soon followed with their own prototypes, the Willys Quad and the Ford Pygmy, which were basically knock-offs of the Bantam car.
Willys eventually won the contract, but Ford was also given a contract to help keep up with the military's demand for the vehicles for use in WWII. Willys later renamed their jeeps the MA and the MB, while Ford called theirs the GP and GPW. Many believe that the Jeep won the war for the Allies.
As for the name 'Jeep', no one really knows for sure where it came from. Some people believe that it evolved from the Ford 'GP' designation, which may have stood for "general purpose" or "government purpose". It's also possible the "G" was for Government and the "P" was the vehicle class.
In 1953 Kaiser took over Willys-Overland to form Kaiser-Jeep, in 1970 American Motors Corporation (AMC) took over Kaiser-Jeep, and in 1987 Chrysler bought AMC mainly for the Jeep brand. It changed ownership two more times when Daimler Benz bought Chrysler and again when Cerberus took over Chrysler.