(1946 Willys Jeep)
Bantam Jeep – was created in response to an invitation issued by the American
Ministry of War on 11th July 1940, which wanted a small 4×4 off road military
vehicle with a weight of no more than 590kg. The design had to be presented in
eleven days and the first prototype had to be ready in forty nine days.
The Bantam Factory, a little known factory which built Austin cars under
License, was the only manufacturer to meet the deadlines. This resulted in an
order for 70 complete vehicles, eight of which had to have four wheel drive.
As soon as these Bantam vehicles became known, Willys and Ford copied the
Bantam design and started producing their own versions, shortly after an order
for 1’500 vehicles was placed with Bantam. Bantam was very unhappy and was
going to take the other two companies to court for copying their design. However
the Ministry of War stepped in and managed to persuade Bantam to stop the law
suites. A bit later Willys and Ford were also awarded orders for 1’500 vehicles.
Although Willys-Overland patented the Jeep Trademark in 1950, Ford probably
produced a larger number of Jeeps than any other manufacturer. It is understood
that more than 600’000 Jeeps were produced in total at that time.