In 1941, after the U.S. Motor Transport Board commissioned Ford, Willys, and Bantam to build 4,500 jeeps, it spearheaded a project under the NRDC for a quarter-ton amphibian vehicle for shallow land and aquatic mobility. The prototype of the QMC-4 , built by the New York boat designing firm, Sparkman & Stevens, was 2,700 lbs, similar in hull design to the larger, more successful GMC DUKW, and had a screw propeller and rudder.
Both the Ford Motor Company and Mamon-Herrington developed this vehicle in competition with each other, but Ford came out on top with a sturdier internal frame and chassis and a much lighter model. Ford did away with the moveable trim vane of the prototype to help with cooling the engine, and based the design on both the Willys MB and the Ford GPW.
Thus began the production of the Ford GPA G (Government) P (80” wheel base) A- (Amphibious) .
From Jeep to Seep
In 1942, Ford received the contract for the production of the GPA, and between ‘42 and ‘43, nearly 13,000 were built. These vehicles did very well in the press and in the hearts of American civilians, including film actor, Cary Grant, who was photographed as a passenger during a lake run at Camp Polk in Louisiana.
Unfortunately, the GPA, commonly referred to as the Seep, weighed 3,400 lbs, half a ton over the desired weight, and ended up performing very poorly in the field during the second world war. The nickname, Seep, which may have been an abbreviation for “sea-faring-Jeep,” became an unfortunate and unintended truth as the engine frequently flooded in choppy waters.
Despite its failings, the GPA did see action in the European theatre of WWII and even a few were used in the Pacific. Many were deployed in September of 1943 during the Sicily landings, and they were also found in England, France, French Tunisia, as well. Under the U.S. Lend-Lease program, which leased vehicles and equipment to Allied nations, Great Britain received the most benefit, followed closely by the Russians who received over 3,500 GPAs and nearly 50,000 standard Jeeps. Sadly, the Seeps were too heavy and cumbersome on the ground and were frequently unsuccessful seafarers, so they ended up becoming odd-looking jeeps used for medical and land transport.
In an interesting turn of events, however, the Russians were fascinated with the GPA and built copies on the chassis of their GAZ 69.
Today the GPA’s are some of the most sought after WWII vehicles and have seen prices exceed $200K. Although the Ford GPA was not entirely successful, the concept and design inspired new advancements in military equipment, including the GMC DUKW, which was integral in many beachhead assaults, most famously D day.
For more information on Army Jeeps, or to request expert steering box repair services or MV services, call AJP today.