In 1940, Ford, Willys-Overland, and the tiny Bantam Company, of Pennsylvania, all submitted designs for a light, sturdy four-wheel drive reconnaissance vehicle. Surprisingly, the Bantam version was best received; however, the Army Quartermasters could see that Bantam didn’t have the financial strength or manufacturing capacity to produce the quantities demanded by the military. An initial order for 1,500 from each manufacturer quickly followed and, after further evaluation, the Willys product was selected. The Army, however, proposed awarding the contract to Ford, based upon its much larger production capacity.
The Army felt the Jeep showed capabilities and adaptability much greater than its original concept as a reconnaissance car and would be needed in far greater quantities than the few thousand originally contemplated. It was only due to the intervention of former GM Manufacturing Chief Lt. General William S. Knudsen in his role as head of war production that the Willys version was chosen and the first production contract granted. Still, Ford received a massive 277,896 unit piece of the Jeep pie. It must have been galling to the giant Dearborn-based automaker to have to build its own version of the Willys MA, including the bulletproof and easily serviced Willys “Go-Devil” L-head four. The resulting Ford-built Jeeps were designated GPW, for “General Purpose Willys”.
The original U.S. Military Jeep for sale at DD Classics comes complete with the indestructible L-head four (60hp) with four-wheel drive capability, three-speed manual transmission with two-speed transfer case, live axle front suspension with leaf springs,12 volt conversion and new 12 volt battery & wiring loom, new exhaust system and four-wheel drum brakes. This is one of the Ford versions of which far fewer have survived. In fully-operational condition, this rare Ford Jeep has been the focus of a total body-off restoration with over £13,500 being spent on parts & labour, including the additions of a field radio with antenna bracket & base, new canvas soft top & seats, a decommissioned M1A1 Thompson Sub Machine Gun (A certificate of De-Activation is included and no firearm licence is required by the new owner) plus many more authentic extra’s that put the finishing touches to this incredible GPW Military Jeep. A complete file with receipts, invoices and descriptions of work carried out, plus a list of very useful specialist contacts, is supplied and authenticates the extent of this complete refurbishment.
The new owner of this unique rare vehicle will be furnished with UK registration papers along with a roadworthy MOT certificate valid till June 2016 and is available for national or international delivery.
Follow DD Classics on Social Media!