1945 Willys MB Jeep

As tensions heightened during the 1930s, the U.S. Army asked automakers to deliver a replacement for its aging light armor division. At the time, the division was mostly comprised of motorcycles—some with sidecars—and many Model T Fords. By 1940, the division had formalized its vehicle requirements to include the following specs: four-wheel-drive, a wheelbase of no more than 80 inches, a minimum payload of 660 lbs. and minimum torque of 85-ft-lbs. Lastly, the vehicle had to weigh no more than 2,160 pounds empty. The original design was contrived by American Bantam Car Company but, due to a lack of production capacity and fiscal stability, the U.S. government assumed legal rights to the design and contracted with Willys-Overland and later Ford to produce their variations the Willys MA—Military A, and later MB. The origin of the term “Jeep” has more than one influence. One clearly points to the Ford designation Gee- P. The second comes from the popular Popeye cartoons of the era. “Eugene the jeep” was Popeye’s jungle pet who could solve difficult problems with his ability to move between dimensions. Much as the implementation of the Jeep did for the military.

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