When we compare the old with the new, it's clear that there are significant differences. Military Jeeps still deserve respect because of their history and the evolution they provided to the civilian Jeep market and the auto industry as a whole. Without the attributes of these early Jeeps, wars would have been much more difficult for the military, and the rave of modern Jeeps would not exist.
The components of a civilian Jeep are much more extensive, but let's compare the old with the new to understand how the market evolved. Hopefully, after exploring this comparison, you will feel inclined to give your military restoration Jeep a proper upgrade.
Today's Jeeps and early civilian Jeeps house more features than military Jeeps due to consumer convenience and usage. But military Jeeps were unique in their build and demands. The US Government called for a company to build a utility vehicle that would be compatible with a specific set of criteria.
The original request for a prototype required the designated company to design and build the reconnaissance vehicle in 49 days. This was a tall order for the Army and the Government because they did not yet have a company or a design, only demands.
The next set of criteria involved the priority items needed to make this vehicle suitable for war demands. These specifications included:
- A 1,300-pound weight requirement
- A minimum payload baseline of 600 pounds
- The vehicle must be off the ground by 6.25 inches
- The engine needed to pull 85 pounds of torque per foot
They also requested that the vehicle house a cooling system. This would enable the car to travel long distances for an extended period without overheating. The elements in war at the time were hot and dry, so this request kept soldier safety in mind.
Willys Quad 1940
There was a collective effort from Ford, Bantam, and Willys to deliver a concept to the government. But Willys-Overland was able to produce the prototype for the Quad and ultimately complete the build in 75 days. Only two of its kind were produced and presented. The Quad was the first of its kind and specialized in 4x4 terrain features.
Willys MA 1941
When the Quad saw a lot of success, the automaker knew it was time to integrate enhanced features to promote more success during the war. Once they saw the original Jeep in action, they could see where adjustments were necessary. The new Willys MA included:
- Left-side hand brake
- Circular instruments on the dashboard
- Body cutouts on the sides
- A steering column gearshift
The manufacturers attempted to reduce the weight to meet the government's new requirements of 2,160 pounds. They could minimize weight limits by decreasing the body panels and ultimately shortening all the nuts and bolts.
These trials and errors in military Jeep construction awarded Willys-Overland the highly prized contract in 1941. As the sole manufacturer, they needed to produce 16,000 units at a retail price of $738.74 per unit. The MA saw additional improvements, such as round door cutouts and one-piece wheel units.
Willys MB 1941-1945
The Willys MB delivered simplicity and versatility. It performed so well that it opened new doors and sought new horizons in transportation. Methods like horseback and sidecars became almost obsolete, and the MB paved the way for the military's successes.
These Jeeps could house a .50 caliber gun for use in combat zones and travel across varied terrain, from desert sand to snow. Their versatile applications ranged from serving as ambulatory tractors, laying telephone cabling, plowing snow, and running along railways.
The MB's lightweight nature enabled it to be transportable for quick combat calls and fit on aircraft for direct flight paths. It's worth noting that the Jeep was not the first 4x4 in circulation, but it opened the doors to those that followed and shaped how the consumer market received and valued the beloved SUV.
The success of the military Jeeps spiraled into rapid innovation for civilians, but not in the way many assume. The initial civilian Jeeps made excellent associates across much of America's farmland. While there were still tractors and farm equipment in use, the CJ created a lot of solutions for farmers and gave them an additional all-terrain vehicle to traverse their lands and fields.
The CJ Evolves
When Willys-Overland understood the usability of the Jeep for civilians, they spent time researching to ensure the market was available. In this research, they found out that of the 5.5 million farmers, 4 million lacked the support of a truck or tractor. This meant they had limited access to their land, and their job to support the country's agriculture came with restrictions.
The manufacturers at Willy-Overland decided to use the CJ-A2 as a full-fledged opportunity to fulfill a void for the nation's farmers. They marketed the vehicle as the "All-Around Farm Workhorse" that would meet the demands of a farm and provide convenience.
They explained that the CJ would do the work of two horses for ten hours a day, at four miles per hour, and with no risk of the engine overheating. As a result, the civilian market boomed, meeting hundreds of industrial applications.
Willys Wagon 1946-1965
The Willys Wagon was a unique civilian option because it offered luxury and versatility in tandem. We know the military Jeeps forged on in battle and eventually expanded into industrial applications, but the Wagon paired convenience with reliability for the everyday consumer.
The Wagon originally debuted in 1946 and featured a patchwork design to appeal to the woodworking concept of the station wagon. It was also listed as a no-maintenance vehicle that could withstand time without weathering, squeaking, or peeling. Today's tailgate parties can pay tribute to the Wagon's hatch, as it folded down and was ahead of its time.
In 1949, the Wagon received an update that the consumer market could not resist. After receiving praise for a few years, the Wagon was on the market with a newly installed four-wheel-drive system. When this vehicle was used for all it was worth, no other car could compare.
Once the consumer market took off, the original military Jeep evolved into many gadgets and features as technology progressed. To ensure a military vehicle receives proper homage during a restoration project, it's vital to use authentic M151A1 Jeep parts. These parts will play a significant role in your ability to respect the original Jeeps and their modern evolution for civilians.
To learn more about authentic parts and military Jeep transformations, reach out to Army Jeep Parts today! We specialize in hobbyist and enthusiast restoration projects.