Jeeps have been popular for nearly 100 years, and they continue to evolve to this very day. You may be unaware of this, but the story of the Jeep begins with the Willys military Jeep, which came into the picture just as the United States was entering World War II. Breaking down a history of the Willys military Jeep will show you where and why the Jeep began its legacy.
In the summer of 1940, the U.S. Army sought the help of vehicle manufacturers to create a light reconnaissance vehicle that met their military specifications. With World War II looming in the distance, the Army began its search for a manufacturer and ultimately settled on a handful to develop what eventually became the Jeep: Ford, Bantam, and Willys.
In November of 1940, Willys-Overland finally had a prototype to present. This new vehicle, known as a Quad, was small in size and came with four-wheel drive capabilities. It also had a Go Devil engine, which gave the Quad enough power to blow the specs of Bantam and Ford’s vehicles out of the water. Bantam and Ford’s engines had slightly over 80 foot-pounds of torque, but the Quad had more than 100 foot-pounds.
As impressive as the Quad was, a second prototype was necessary to make some adjustments. The Willys MA was then created to meet the military’s specifications. This new model was lighter, and it had some extra attachments such as a handbrake and a steering column-mounted gear shift. After some refining, the Willys Jeep became the U.S. military’s go-to vehicle from 1941 to 1945.
Willys then had to make more adjustments to this model some years later for the Korean War. This newer model, the Willys M38, had new features such as a waterproof electrical system, a foldable windshield, mounted wipers, and hooks to allow for towing. The M38A1 model featured even more adjustments: for instance, the M38 had a one-piece foldable windshield, but the M38A1 had a two-piece windshield as well as a longer wheelbase and a more rounded-out design. In 1962, Willys took it a step further and began manufacturing the M-170. This new Jeep was able to serve a diverse range of roles that included troop transports and field ambulances.
A history of the Willys military Jeep certainly explains why a Jeep is more than just your average car. If you want to repair or restore one of these famous Jeeps, we can help you out. At Army Jeep Parts, we can provide you with a wide range of Willys Jeep parts to help you keep that historic machine in one piece.