1959 American Motors M422 Mighty Mite

The M422 'Mighty Mite' is a lightweight ¼-ton 4x4 tactical truck, suitable for airlifting and manhandling. From 1959-1962, the Mighty Mite was built by American Motors for the United States Marine Corps. Although technically a lightweight truck, this vehicle was often referred to as a Jeep due to its resemblance. This vehicle is one of only 1,250 built.

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Specifications

VIN:
License # Serial #:
Engine: 107.8 cu in (1.8 L)
Manufacturer: American Motors Corporation
Years Produced: 1959 - 1962
Suspension: Independent with leaf springs
Horsepower: 55 HP
Max. Speed: 62 MPH
Range: 225 MPH
Length/width: 107 inches, 61 inches
Weight: 1700 lbs
No. Produced: 1,250
Status Currently under restoration
Owner: Estrella Warbird Museum

History

The vehicle was originally prototyped starting in 1946, making it the first all-new Jeep to be designed for the U.S. military after World War II, and further developed during the 1950s by a team including four of the original Bantam engineers. A design called MARCO MM-100 by the Mid-American Research Corporation used a Porsche air-cooled engine and independent suspension. A unique feature was the absence of a conventional exhaust system. The prototype did not have a muffler or pipe rather the exhaust was routed through the frame. This proved to be an inferior design because the condensation and acidic fumes caused premature frame failure. A competing prototype by Willys, the 1953 Bobcat or "Aero Jeep", which would share as many parts as possible with the M38 and M38A1 to save costs, was rejected in favor of the more advanced M422.

Although the vehicle was only to be used by the U.S. Marine Corps, and it was therefore clear from the beginning that production numbers would remain limited, the vehicle was extensively engineered and incorporated many innovations.

To keep the weight down, the M422 became the first U.S. jeep to be fitted with an aluminum body. At 1,700 pounds (771 kg), it is the lightest of the American military trucks to date. Also, this was the first U.S. small military vehicle designed with independent suspension all around (front: leading arms/trailing arms rear), sprung by ¼-elliptical leaf springs. Among the M422's many other unique features were front and rear Limited-slip differentials, inboard differential mounted drum brakes, center-point steering, and the aluminum "AMC AV-108-4" V4 engine developed by American Motors. The air-cooled 107.8 cu in (1.8 L) developed 52 bhp (39 kW) and 90 lb·ft (122 N·m) of torque, which propelled it to a top speed of 65 miles per hour (108 km/h), with a 55-mile-per-hour (89 km/h) military rating. As with the M151, the transfer case only engages/disengages the front wheel drive and is part of the transmission. The full synchronization meant it could be shifted from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive on the fly.

Although basically a two-seater, the little vehicle could theoretically move six people, thanks to two additional fold-up seats that were integrated into the functional tailgate, as well as two folding backrests on the rear fenders. Also, the M422 was rated to carry 850 lb (390 kg) off road, while all other standard GI 1/4 ton vehicles (even the M151) were rated at 800 lb (363 kg). And if needed, there was even a version of the M416 trailer specially adapted for towing by an M422: the M416B1.

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