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The Genesis of the M151 Jeep

During the Korean war, the American military realized that it needed an upgrade from the popular M38 and M38A1 jeep Light Utility Vehicles. By 1951, Ford was awarded a contract to create a new jeep that was similar in design, but stronger and more reliable than the M38 series options. Throughout much of the 1950s, Ford built and tested prototype after prototype in order to meet the guidelines and specifications outlined by the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Tank Automotive Command and improve the design based on a specific jeep produced on the European continent.

In 1956, the German auto manufacturer Auto-Union (the immediate predecessor to Audi) began production of the DKW Munga, a multi-purpose light utility vehicle that became popular throughout Europe — the Royal Netherlands Army had even intended the Munga to replace their M38A1s. The popularity of the DKW Munga spread to the U.S. during testing in ‘53, and the American military was much impressed by the German jeep’s design, versatility, and cross-country mobility.

Munga Turned Mutt

Early on, Ford attempted to mimic many aspects of the Munga for their new jeep, known as the XM151 “Mutt.” This model consisted of a(n):

●     Independent suspension with coil springs & fixed differentials

●     Unitized body

●     More powerful engine producing 71 horsepower at 4,000 rpm

●     85 in. wheelbase

●     Horizontal grille bars to differentiate from Willys M38A1s

 Regardless of clear maneuverability problems and rollover dangers, especially at higher speeds, the M151 models were considered the modern solution to military ground travel after official production began in 1959. The Mutt was implemented in Vietnam during the last four years of the conflict and well into the 1980s until it was replaced by the HMMWV (“Humvee”).

Unlike other jeep models, the M151 series was never cleared for public highway use by the Department of Defense due to a few persistent liability concerns. The M151A2s had a redesigned rear suspension; however, rollovers were still an issue in the ‘80s, causing the military to retrofit many Mutts with roll-cages for the safety of both front and rear passengers.

Although the HMMWV models were the new and improved military transport near the end of the M151 series’ production, the Mutts were lighter and more compact. They were even able to fit inside a CH-53 heavy transport helicopter, making the fast attack vehicle (FAV) variant of the M151 a popular choice for the U.S. Marine Corps through 1999. Many models of the Mutt have seen military success in 15 NATO countries, and they were sold to the UK, Canada, and Denmark, as well as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, the Philippines and other non-NATO countries. Over 100 countries still use M151s today, despite the series’ official replacement over 30 years ago.

Call Army Jeep Parts today to learn more about the M151 and the DKW Munga, request expert steering box repair services, or fill up your jeep with CJ3B engine fuel.