1942 Willys MB / Ford GPW Jeep
The Willys MB and Ford GPW, both formally called the U.S. Army Truck, 1/4 ton, 4x4, Command Reconnaissance, commonly known as Jeepor jeep, and sometimes referred to as G503, are four-wheel drive military utility vehicles that were manufactured during World War II (from 1941 to 1945) to help mobilize the Allied forces.
The World War II jeep became the primary light wheeled vehicle of the United States Military and its WW II Allies, as well as the postwar period; becoming the world's first mass-produced 4-wheel drive car, manufactured in six-figure numbers. The jeep proved both exceptionally capable and versatile, and General George C. Marshall called the squared-off little vehicle “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare.” After the war, it evolved into the civilian Jeep CJ models, and inspired both an entire category of recreational 4WDs and several generations of military light utility vehicles.
Willys made its first 25,000 MB Jeeps with a welded flat iron "slat" radiator grille. It was Ford who first designed and implemented the now familiar and distinctive stamped, vertical-slot steel grille into its Jeep vehicles, which was lighter, used fewer resources, and was less costly to produce. Along with many other design features innovated by Ford, this was adopted by Willys and implemented into the standard World War II Jeep by April 1942.
In order to be able to get their grille design trademarked, Willys gave their post-war jeeps seven slots instead of the original Ford nine-slot design. Through a series of corporate takeovers and mergers, AM General Corporation ended up with the rights to use the seven-slot grille as well, which they in turn extended to Chrysler when it acquired American Motors Corporation, then manufacturer of Jeep, in 1987.
The 1942 Jeep on display at the museum is privately owned by the Soltis Collection who are very gracious to be able to share this piece of American history with visitors.