Bantam


History of the jeep by Rifkind is a very good read covering the very earliest beginnings of the vehicle that would become known as the jeep.

If you are interested in the history of the development of the jeep there is little substitute for the first effort done by H. Rifkind. This book was written from the Quartermaster Corps’ perspective but draws on numerous resources and documentation to put together a pretty good picture of what happened.

Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck! Or is it!! Just put into four wheel drive and go!

What makes it even more valuable is that it actually lists the sources. So if you can figure where and how to find them, you find a gold mine of information to research. I know that I have used this information to track down at least one of the players in the jeep story–Major General George Lynch, Chief of Infantry. The Infantry was instrumental in development of the jeep project–they saw the need long before anyone or any other agency jumped on the bandwagon.

Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942 is available from Amazon.com.  Makes a great gift for the WW2 jeep enthusiast!  Buy now for the Holidays.

Also check out our other books at our 42 Ford GPW bookstore complete with Jeep related apparel.

Private Kirkland drives Col. Thomas M. Monroe, commanding, 15th Infantry.

Notice the rectangle with the diagonal lines? I believe this is unit disignator. I haven’t really found anything definitive in this regard…so it’s still just a guess but other pictures in the set sport different “squares”.

Also notice the rectangle above the square. 15 HQ 13.


Now you may have thought there was something goobered up or censored in the first picture near the drivers front fender. But as you can see it’s not. Those are obviously slots that have been either bolted or welded. And that is a sign of sorts. It appears to be white on top and another color of some sort below. Is this yet another unit indicator? I have no idea.

You Bantam guys must already know about the other features. I never realized the safety strap was mounted on the outside…or is this a mod? Also on the hood what the heck is the round/raised object about 2 or so inches back from the edge of the hood…about center? Notice the wheels? They sure look shiny, too. Sure would like to have the Colonel’s bantam.


The original black and white photo.

Picture Sources: Ft Lewis Sentinel, 1941

Find out more about the Bantam jeep – Bantam, Ford and Willys-1/4-Ton Reconnaissance Cars.

Bantam Pilot
American Bantam Car Co. was the first to deliver what would become known as the “jeep”.

Right before entry of the US into WW2, the US Infantry recognized a need for a light reconnaissance vehicle. During the summer of 1940, American Bantam Car Company developed the 1/4-ton vehicle that would revolutionize warfare. Sadly, the first  company to deliver the vehicle would not end up producing them for the war.

These make great gifts.  It is not too early to be thinking about Christmas and the Holidays!

The very first 1/4-ton reconnaissance and liaison car as built by the first producer—American Bantam Car Co. This car was delivered to Holabird Quartermaster Depot on September 11, 1940. (photo courtesy of William Spear.)
This jeep has now be recreated by Duncan Rolls and looks perfect.  Here is a shot of his jeep in black and white–to me it looks like it is straight out of 1940!
Duncan Rolls' Bantam Pilot
Duncan Rolls’ Bantam Pilot
For more about Bantam and other early jeeps, check out – BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS
See more at www.42FordGPW.com

You know, if it wasn’t for Bantam then maybe I wouldn’t be sitting on the hood of my WW2 jeep! That’s right…Bantam was the first to deliver a 1/4-ton truck–the jeep.

Bantam - The First To Deliver Large Framed Print

Questions? Order by Phone! 877 809-1659
Bantam – The First To Deliver Large Framed Print

The first 1/4-ton developed for the US Army for WW2. A classic photo of the first 1/4-ton 4×4 in action.

$39.99 plus shipping. Ships world wide.

AVAILABILITY: In Stock, will ship in 2 business days. Prices subject to change.

Product Number: 111189646 Click the link to order or call TOLL FREE (US) and give the operator the product number.

Product Information
Prints are perfect for the home or office. All prints are custom manufactured using archival inks and acid-free paper. Framed prints are matted and framed in a stylish black frame with Plexiglas cover. Frames include complete backing. Frame size: 15″ x 19″

See more framed prints at the 42FordGPW Store.

I just love a legend, do you have one of them?  Bantam BRC, Ford GP or Willys MA/MB?

I just love a legend, do you have one of them? Bantam BRC, Ford GP or Willys MA/MB? My first love will always be the underdog – Bantam BRC!

There continues to be disinformation concerning whether or not the Army called the jeep a “general purpose” vehicle or not.  Of course one has to know about military procurement in order to understand the answer.  The vehicle that became known as the “jeep” was originally procured by the Quartermaster Corps at the request of the using arms (Infantry, Cavalry and Field Artillery).

Under Army regulations the Quartermaster Corps could only procure “general purpose” and “special purpose” vehicles.  These were in the form of either Administrative (like a staff car) or tactical (the jeep would be one of those). It could also procure certain vehicle under the advisement of the Medical Corps (such as an ambulance).
Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck!  Or is it!!

Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck! Or is it!!

In fact, evidence of this is stated in AR 850-15 as quoted by Book 120 Field Artillery, Automotive Instruction, 1941 Edition:

“Classification: General-Purpose Motor Vehicles–All wheeled vehicles adapted for general hauling purposes including general cargo, ammunition, personnel, and equipment; and for towing trailers, guns, and other wheeled equipment. Examples: Cargo trucks, dump trucks, passenger vehicles, ambulances.”

“Estimates, Design, Development, Procurement, Maintenance, Storage, and Issue: By the Quartermaster Corps, except the design and development of ambulances, which will be by the Medical Department in collaboration with the Quartermaster Corps.”

The same Book 120 also defines “truck”. Trucks are “motor-propelled vehicles designed primarily for carrying cargo or equipment. They may be used for carrying personnel or for towing purposes.” Still further it provides a chart that lists the Truck, 1/4-ton, 4×4, Ford, 1941. The chart defines ‘purpose’ for us. “The purpose will be indicated by stating the general character of the body or the use for which the vehicle is designed.& The trucks maybe for “cargo, light repair, reconnaissance, dump, tank, cargo and dump, wrecking, or pick-up.” The jeep’s ( or Geep!) purpose is reconnaissance.

For more about the early WW2 jeep you might be interested in reading, “Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.”

Of those players in the field leading to the standardized war time jeep, American Bantam Car Company was the smallest with “an approximate investment of one million dollars and employing around 450 men.”  Bantam had been through financial difficulties and receiverships, had applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for first-mortgage loans dating back to 1938.

During the late 1930s, Bantam had tried to interest the United States War Department in the utility of their small cars.  While several where tested, the immediate results went no where.  At this same time the US Army had been testing various concepts for 4×4 (four-wheel drive) vehicles.  They had recently purchased many 1/2-ton 4×4 trucks.  While these trucks performed fairly well, they were just too big, too heavy, too long and needed refinement.

Bantam Pilot

In accordance with the agreement in its bid, the American Bantam Car Company built and delivered the first pilot model to Holabird in 49 days.  During the construction of this original model, the bugaboo of weight cropped up again.  It became evident to both Bantam and Holabird that strength and material limitations, as well as other engineering factors, would make it virtually impossible to meet the 1275 pound weight requirement.  Hence all 70 jeeps weighed some hundred pounds more, although still less than the 2100 pound limit set in the tentative specifications of July 7, 1941, or the still later revised military characteristics of July 3, 1942, which raised the final weight of the jeep, for the period covered by this study, to not more than 2450 pounds.

Bantam BRC rear view

When the jeep reached the using arms (Infantry, Cavalry and Field Artillery) in the field its success was instant and sensational.  At posts, camps, and stations all over the country, it won the admiration of everyone for the manner in which it performed.  The demonstrations it gave of climbing and leaping, and its all-round ability to push its way through tough situations, impressed all beholders…It’s four-wheel drive proved that it could operate over the roughest terrain.  Water eighteen inches in depth was forded with ease.  Although riding in the jeep was far from pleasure driving, it auxiliary transmission, providing six speeds forward and two reverse, enabled it to hit a mile-a-minute clip on the highway or claw its way up grades of 60% or better, in low.  In its appearance, too, the jeep was radically different. Soon well-known to every school-boy on the street were its squat, rectangular, utilitarian shape in its coat of olive-drab, lustreless enamel that had been developed shortly before; its low silhouette; the flat fenders on each of which an additional man could be carried if necessary; the heavy brush guard protecting the front; the folding windshield and detachable folding top or canopy; the pintle and towing hooks; the heavy duty mud-and-snow tread tires; and the front and rear blackout lights.”

The jeep proved so very successful that it has remained in production with minimal changes so that even today “every school-boy” still recognizes a jeep vehicle.  Unfortunately, the jeeps’ success would not be tied to the success of American Bantam Car Company. The company would lose the bid for the standardized war-time jeep to Willys-Overland. Then through negotiations Ford Motor Company would be selected as the alternate producer of the Willys jeep. Bantam after delivering its last Bantam BRC would never again produce cars for the government or anyone else. During the war it produced trailers pulled by the Willys MB and Ford GPW. The company survived after the war for a time producing civilian versions of the jeep trailer. The company was bought by another concern and quickly faded from the scene. A sad ending for the first designer and builder of the jeep.

For even more about Bantam and other early jeeps, check out Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.

1941 Bantam BRC Spoken Here - Yard Sign
1941 Bantam BRC Spoken Here – Yard Sign.  Let everyone know you like talking about the 1941 Bantam BRC. Use it as an ice-breaker with WW2 veterans or others.   $15.99 plus shipping.  Ships worldwide. Order TOLL FREE (US) by calling 877.809.1659 and giving the operator the product number or by clicking the link to order online.

Availability: In Stock.Product Number: 376581522

Product Information
When you have something important to say, showcase it on a yard sign for all to see. Support a candidate, promote a yard sale, play up a party theme, create a holiday decoration – or just say what’s on your mind.

  • Measures 22″ wide x 15″ high
  • 13 oz. flexible vinyl is weather-resistant for outdoor use
  • Design printed on both sides
  • Sealed edges
  • Includes metal frame for ground mounting (basic assembly required)
1941 Bantam BRC Women's Dark T-Shirt
Color: Violet
Black Red Caribbean Blue Violet
1941 Bantam BRC Women’s Dark T-ShirtWear a representation of the 1941 Bantam BRC, the first 1/4-ton used by the Army during WW2 in four great colors.$21.99 plus shipping.  Price subject to change.Order by calling TOLL FREE (US) 877.809.1659 and giving the operator the product number below or by clicking on the link to order online.
Availability: In Stock.Product Number: 109561963

Product Information
Fit: Standard

Standard Fit

Not too tight, not too loose.

Fabric Thickness:

Our 100% cotton women’s tee is preshrunk, durable and guaranteed.

  • 5.6 oz. 100% cotton
  • Standard fit
For something different, you might be interested in BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS.
At left is a close-up photo of the 37mm Anti-Tank Gun carriage. The original carriage did not have a goose-neck ring so the gun would dig into the ground (on rough terrain). Notice how there are TWO different rings. The original short and straight ring and then the ring actually being used by the Bantam.Note the rear gas cap on this early jeep.

See more pictures about the Bantam (and the other pre-standardized jeeps) available in BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS by Robert Notman.

Printed: 170 pages, 8.5″ x 11″, perfect binding, black and white interior ink.

ISBN: 978-1-84728-188-3

$24.95 plus shipping.  Ships worldwide.  Available at bookstores and Amazon.com.

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