Ford GPW "Jeep"
United States < Back to Collection

slideshow image
slideshow image

Before World War II, the nickname “jeep” was soldier’s slang for anything insignificant, awkward, or silly.  The term probably came from a character named Eugene the Jeep from 1930s Popeye comics.  While the name was originally used for any small vehicle, the moniker stuck to the offspring of a diminutive but versatile 4x4 “recon car” delivered to the Army for evaluation in 1940.

The first Jeeps were made by American Bantam Car Company.  When Bantam could not keep up with demand, Willys-Overland Motors, and the Ford Motor Company joined in to build similar versions of the machine.  In combat and behind the front lines, Jeeps were used for a multitude of tasks including scout car, ambulance, staff vehicle, and communications car.

The military loved the jeep because it was tough and adaptable.  Reporter Ernie Pyle wrote, “It did everything.  It went everywhere.  Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat.  It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going.”

Willys built some 363,000 Jeeps while Ford produced 280,000 more during World War II.

General Statistics
Width: 4 ft 8 in
Length: 11 ft
Height (top down): 4 ft 4 in
Max. Weight: 3,650 lbs
Engine: Willys L-134 “Go Devil” 4-cylinder
Engine power: 60 hp (45 kW)
Maximum speed: 65 mph
Range: 285 miles