1945 Ford GPW US Navy

This pristine version of the ubiquitous World War II, in US Navy gray, fully restored and street-licensed in operating condition, was donated to the museum by Jerry Smith in January 1997. Manufactured by Ford Motor Company, Detroit, MI.

  • DSC_0216
  • DSC_0254
  • P1110104
  • P1230030
  • P3060043
  • PC140034
  • PC140035
DSC_02161 DSC_02542 P11101043 P12300304 P30600435 PC1400346 PC1400357

Specifications

VIN: GW272114
License # ID #: 272114
Engine: 4-cyl. side valves, 134 cu in (2.2 L) (2199 cc)
Transmission: 3 speed + reverse T-84
Power Transfer: 2 selections: 2wd Hi , 4WD Hi, 4WD Lo
Horsepower: 60 HP
Wheel base: 80 inches (203 cm)
Brakes: Full hydraulic brakes in all 4; handbrake assembly at rear of transfer case
Suspension: Leaf springs, shock absorbers on all 4
Crew: 1 +3 passengers
Length: 131 inches
Width: 62 inches
Status: Operating Display
Owner: Estrella Warbird Museum

History

The first jeep prototype (the Bantam BRC) was built for the Department of the Army by American Bantam in Butler, Pennsylvania, followed by two other competing prototypes produced by Ford and Willys-Overland. The American Bantam Car Company actually built and designed the vehicle that first met the Army's criteria, but its engine did not meet the Army's torque requirements. Plus, the Army felt that the company was too small to supply the number needed and it allowed Willys and Ford to make second attempts on their designs after seeing Bantam's vehicle in action. Some people believe that Ford and Willys also had access to Bantam's technical paperwork.

Quantities 1,500 of each of the three models were then extensively field tested. During the bidding process for 16,000 "jeeps", Willys-Overland offered the lowest bid and won the initial contract. Willys thus designed what would become the standardized jeep, designating it a model MB military vehicle and building it at their plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Like American Bantam, Willys-Overland was a small company and, likewise, the military was concerned about their ability to produce large quantities of jeeps. The military was also concerned that Willys-Overland had only one manufacturing facility: something that would make the supply of jeeps more susceptible to sabotage or production stoppages.

Based on these two concerns, the U.S. government required that jeeps also be built by the Ford Motor Company, who designated the vehicle as model GPW (G = governmental vehicle, P showed the wheelbase, and W = the Willys design). Willys and Ford, under the direction of Charles E. Sorensen (Vice-President of Ford during World War II), produced more than 600,000 jeeps. Besides just being a "truck" the jeep was used for as many purposes as you can think of.

The jeep was widely copied around the world, including in France by Hotchkiss et Cie (after 1954, Hotchkiss manufactured Jeeps under licence from Willys), and by Nekaf in the Netherlands. There were several versions created, including a railway jeep and an amphibious jeep. As part of the war effort, Jeeps were also supplied to the Soviet Red Army during World War II.

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