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The California Automobile Museum is temporarily home to all three mass-produced World War II military jeeps. The 1941 Bantam Reconnaissance Car (Jeep), 1943 Ford Military Jeep, and 1943 Willys Military Jeep are great examples of American innovation during the war years that are rarely seen together.
In July 1940, the U.S. Army issued a challenge to the nation’s automakers to produce a light, cross-country reconnaissance vehicle described as a “quarter-ton, 4X4 truck.” Ford, Willys-Overland, and American-Bantam took on the task but only American-Bantam was able to produce a prototype in the short amount of time the military required. However, Bantam’s limited production capacity made it impossible for them to produce the number of vehicles the Army needed. The government shared the design with Ford and Willys-Overland and all three companies produced what would become known as the “Jeep.” These Jeeps became the primary vehicle of the U.S. Army and Allies during World War II and the postwar period.
These Jeeps won’t be in one place for long. The 1941 Bantam Reconnaissance Car is part of this month’s Car Club Cavalcade featuring American-Bantams and is on display until April 30, 2010. The 1943 Willys Military Jeep is part of the newest exhibit, Drive Fast, Take Chances: Birth of the Hot Rod and is on display until July 5, 2010. The 1943 Ford Military Jeeps is part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
For more information about the Museum visit www.CalAutoMuseum.org or call (916) 442-6802.