Classifieds Hero: 1942 WWII Jeep

The battle-scarred grandfather to the 4x4 SUV concept we enjoy today, here’s one of the best World War Two Jeeps from our classifieds

Some vehicles inherit a legacy, others create it. Certain marques radiate heritage and trumpet their achievements across the board. However, when talking about real accomplishments, nothing comes close the legendary Jeep.

The iconic ancestor to today’s Chelsea tractor – but quite unlike those largely useless WAG wagons and soccer-mom specials – the humble Jeep was a true workhorse and decorated war hero. In fact, the outcome of World War Two may have been far different had the flat-snouted celebrity never have materialised.

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General Eisenhower went so far as to say that three weapons saw victory for the Allies; one of them was the Jeep. The basic design, albeit vastly improved, set the foundations for Land Rover and – most importantly of all – won the hearts of millions, let alone the largest global conflict to date.

The US Government desperately needed a light, general-purpose vehicle for fighting overseas – not to mention activities on home turf – so sent out a distress call to all major American car manufacturers for designs. The vehicle had to be air portable, hold an ‘empty’ weight of no more than 590kg and carry three soldiers – not to mention feature a fold-down windscreen and a track of no more than 47in. It was a tall order.

Initially it was a two-horse race between Willys-Overland and American Bantam. They were later joined by Ford, which had superior mass-production facilities. Regardless, they all pulled together for the war effort.

Lightweight, and utilising a 60bhp powerplant through a double-reduction gearbox running permanent four-wheel drive, the General Purpose (GP – Jeep) machine offered a top speed of 65mph and the capability to tank through hazardous terrain under enemy fire. It saved more lives throughout the 1941-’45 production run than any other piece of machinery. It’s no wonder that, during tense times of need, the Jeep fast became the post-war darling of the roads.

Which makes it all the more distressing to learn that, after the war ended, both beloved older and shiny brand-new examples were pushed off cliffs, crushed and ditched in the ocean, so desperate was the public to destroy any symbol of the engagement that cost so many, so much. The British rolled dozens off soon-to-be-scuttled cruisers into Beaufort’s Dyke off the coast of Cairnryan, Scotland – alongside more than a million tonnes of munitions.

Following such carnage, and years of subsequent abuse as farm hacks and cheap labour on the second-hand market, finding a solid and unmolested Jeep required the patience of a saint for many years. Luckily, the market is now far more respectful than it ever was – and we have a cracker in the AutoClassics’ classifieds.

Ford was awarded a $14.6 million contract to supply 15,000 Bantam-design Jeeps. By the end of the war, it had built 277,876 examples; a mere chunk of the 700,000 manufactured. With a serial number of #14855, this example could well be from the original military order – making it the real deal, and as raw and original as the design ever was.

Alongside the indestructible four-cylinder engine and the gruff ‘go-anywhere, do-anything’ attitude so worshipped by historians and classic car aficionados alike, this example comes with:

  • Rear-mount spare
  • Five new Jeep tyres
  • Front and rear bumpers
  • Tow hitch
  • Storage canisters
  • Shovel and axe on driver’s side
  • Special grab handles
  • GPW=General Purpose Willys/Ford script tyres

Looking for a slice of real heritage and off-road ability for less than $30,000? Search no further. You won’t regret a single minute of ownership – regardless of how unrefined it is.

Get a closer look with the AutoClassics classified advert.

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