Last year, perhaps the most important quadricycle in the world, the Jeep turned seventy! Time for a piece of history lesson?
When it became apparent that it was inevitable for the United States to be involved in the war that raged in Europe, no less than 135 engineers were approached by the army leadership to build a - working - four-wheel-drive vehicle. Only two companies applied. Willys Overland and American Bantam Car Company. The limited enthusiasm for this project was also due to one of the demands of the US Army to realize such a thing within 49 days. Willys asked for more time, but that was refused. Bantam, now bankrupt, no longer had anyone on the payroll, but approached the talented freelance designer Karl Probst. He initially refused. When the American army more or less put him under pressure, he started - without salary - on 17 July 1940. After two days he had the whole case on paper, a day later the cost was ready. Bantam was commissioned on July 22 and the prototype was built. Most parts came from the production lines of automobile factories, the four-wheel drive line was supplied by the Spicer company. The first moving prototype turned up the army base on September 21 1940. The project was approved except for the engine. He had too little torque. It was only then that the army command realized that Bantam could never meet the demand, and so the order for the Jeep designed and built by Bantam was also given to Ford and Willys. They were allowed to make modifications at their own discretion. Each manufacturer produced 1500 pieces that were extensively tested, modified and tested again until the final Jeep was ready for production. In the war years, slightly more than 640.000 units were built. You can write a book about the brand. The first SUV in the world and it has now become seventy years old.
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