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AJP Featured Trucks - Part II: The Willys Quad

The Quad was the first functional Willys Jeep prototype & was the genesis of successive models which in turn became the stuff of legends.

The Original Model 

The prototypes from Willys-Overland were brought to Fort Holabird in Baltimore, MD, on November 13, 1940, for testing along with the Ford and Bantam models. The other models were much lighter with comparable horsepower to the original Quad which weighed an astounding 2,423 pounds - without gasoline or passengers - and had engine reliability issues. 

The Willys Quad had a good-looking exterior, despite the awkward mounting of the headlights and the lack of doors (although safety straps were provided), but its interior was even more  fascinating. The passenger seat could swivel to face the driver’s seat, and both front seats could be folded down to make loading much easier. Additionally, its windshield was a single pane of glass that was manually adjustable to open for ventilation purposes, and there was a removable metal handrail on top of the body. 

One of the most interesting points about this car at the time, however, was the gearshift. In the 1940s, American drivers were used to floor shift arrangements that the automotive industry was tempting to do away with. Although a seemingly antiquated feature today, the military was impressed and excited by the gearshift mounted on the Willys Quad’s steering column. 

Famously advertised in February of 1941, climbing the Capitol Building steps with Senator Meade at the wheel, Willys’ chief test driver, Red Hausman, is in the passenger seat, and three other military personnel are in the back. The advertisement was effective but did not help to sell the military on this heavy truck.

The MA Model 

As a result of the truck’s failure to meet military expectations, the Willys team of engineers tinkered with the design and the engine for the next few months. The rebuilt Quad became the MA of which they made 1500 for testing purposes. Most of the Jeeps ended up in Russia. The chief engineer at Willys, Delmar (Barney) Roos, upgraded the old 48-horsepower Overland Whippet engine to 60 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 105 lb-foot of torque at 2,000 rpm. He also reduced the weight of the truck to the army specification of 2,160 pounds (over 250 pounds fewer than the Quad Jeep).  

The Willys MA measured 132” x 62” x 42” and a two-pane windshield with the same ventilation capabilities of the older model. Although the MA was still overweight, the horsepower and strength of the Jeep still beat out the Ford and Bantam competition. Willys lowest bid didn’t hurt either 

The MA Departure 

The Willys MA  had become a recognized vehicle before the Willys rollout of its new MB ready for US military service in late 1941. In the final official photo-op, many pictures were taken with the original Quad, some including a WWII Willys MB. However, afterward, the original Quad disappeared forever, leaving army truck enthusiasts to conjecture what actually happened to this historic Jeep. 

To learn more about famous Jeeps, or for expert carburetor repair services or transmission repair services for your army truck, contact the Army Jeep Parts service crew today.