The Sea Jeep: Understanding Ford’s GPA Jeep
The concept of a jeep that doubles as an aquatic vehicle might sound like something out of James Bond or The Avengers. However, it was a reality more than 70 years ago, in the form of the sea jeep. Understanding Ford’s GPA Jeep, which was also called “Seep” for short, can open your eyes to a whole side of World War II vehicular strategy you might have never heard of.
In 1942, American troops found themselves in need of a vehicle that could safely take them from troopships at sea to the beachhead landings, from which they could drive to continue operations, all while being protected from enemy fire.
This amphibious vehicle came to life with the help of the Ford Motor Company and Sparkman and Stephens Inc., the latter of which had expertise in the field of designing yachts. The design of the GPA took inspiration from vehicles such as the Willys MB, Ford GPW, and Roderick Stephens Jr.’s DUKW amphibious truck.
When it comes to specific components of the Ford GPA, there were many similarities to the Ford GPW in particular. The GPA pretty much had the same transmission, transfer case, engine, and axles as the GPW, though it did utilize a better 12-volt electronics system. The inclusion of parts such as the steering wheel-controlled rudder, propeller, bilge pump, anchor, and spray shields was meant to effectively transform the GPA into something optimized for both land and sea.
However, production of the Ford GPA only lasted from 1942 to 1943. Because of the vehicle’s massive weight, a whopping 3,200 lbs., it could not perform as well as intended on both land and sea. In the water, the GPA could only handle very limited amounts of cargo. Additionally, it did not perform well in rough waters, which really put a wrench in the whole function of the GPA’s concept in the first place.
The GPA’s performance on land wasn’t an improvement either. The heavy, bulky nature of the GPA made it tough to handle properly. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for these jeeps to get stuck in shallow waters. Thus, once again hindering the whole intended function of this vehicle.
After learning the story of the sea jeep, understanding Ford’s GPA jeep should be easier and more enlightening than ever. Although this fascinating vehicle is long gone, jeep collectors love restoring and preserving them even today, as rare as they may be. If you’re in need of vintage jeep parts for your Ford GPA restoration project, Army Jeep Parts has a wide variety of parts that you can choose from.