1942 Willys Jeep – A Heritage of Hero in WWII

Articles, CA, GA, Military

The Jeep Willys was a mass-produced small four-wheel-drive car that was first built in 1941 by Willys-Overland Motors. The design of the Jeep Willys has been credited to Karl Probst, who was an engineer at Willys-Overland.

The Jeep Willys was used extensively by the United States military during World War II and the Korean War. After the war, the Jeep Willys became popular with civilians as a utility vehicle.

If you’re lucky enough to own a 1942 Willys Jeep, you can be proud to know that you’re driving a piece of history.

1. How did the Willys Jeep become iconic in World War II?

From July 1940, the U.S Army was looking for a versatile vehicle that could be 4WD and carry at least 3 people. Additionally, it would rather have an 80’’ wheelbase, and be able to go 50mph on roads with a minimum weight of 1,300lbs.

At that time, there were three companies that joined the competition: Willys-Overland Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Bantam Car Company. However, the unexpected small Bantam Car Company is the one that met the requirements. And, the U.S government worried that this company would not provide enough vehicles as requested. As a result, they contacted Ford and Willys for support on Jeep production.

Willys-Overland produced the MA (Model “A”) and Ford made the Jeep GP. By July 1941, the U.S government troops loved the “Go-Devil” engine of Willys, so they chose it as a standard model. Ford Motor and Bantam Car Company cooperated in producing Willys MB (the Model “B”) with concluding all the best features.

However, the “Jeep” was not called by these three manufacturers. There are some hypotheses about this name. Some say it is a spoonerism of the word GP; while some say that it was inspired by a character from a cartoon called Popeye.

During World War II, approximately 363,000 were built by Willys and another 280,000 by Ford. The Jeep became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the United States Army and Allies during World War II, as well as the postwar period.

2. Why were Jeep Willys trucks chosen for World War II?

Did you know that thanks to Jeep’s height advantage, Jeeps are a great choice for winter driving because they have superior visibility? They also come equipped with all sorts of safety features that will keep you safe on the roads during this time!

Moreover, the Willys Jeep was an instant success, with its rugged 4×4 capabilities and compact size making it perfect for off-road use. The Jeep quickly became essential to the Allied war effort, with over 360,000 being built during World War II. The Jeep Willys is also known as the first military off-roader.

The Jeep’s versatility meant it was used in a variety of roles, from carrying troops to towing artillery. It even saw action as an ambulance and a command car. The Jeep’s wartime service is a testament to its strength and durability, making it a true icon of the 20th century.

The first bid accepted by the Army was for a vehicle with four-wheel drive, a crew of three onboard, and specifications that it has: no more than 75 inches long chassis (or less), 47 inch wide tracks plus 1,200 pounds maximum load capacity. The engine should also provide 85 ft-lbs/115 Nm torque without exceeding 1,350 lbs weight which makes the 1942 Jeep Willy the perfect military truck!

Below are some outstanding specifications of 1942 Jeep Willys MB

  • Drive Type: 4WD
  • Curb weight: 2,453 lbs (1,113 kg) (with engine fluids and full fuel tank)
  • Dry weight: 2,337 lbs (1,060 kg)
  • Length: 132 ¼ in (3.36m)
  • Width: 62 in (1.57m)
  • Engine: 134cu in (2.2L)
  • Maximum speed: 65mph (105km/h)
  • Payload capacity: 1,200lbs
  • Fuel Capacity: 15 gal
  • Axles: Dana 30 (Front), Dana 44 (Rear)

Here are two you can visit museums you can visit to see one of these Icon WWII Jeeps up close

Miles Through Time Automotive Museum

  • 583 Grant St., Clarkesville, GA 30523
  • Email: info@milesthroughtime.com
  • Call: (470) 239-0199
  • Admission: Adults $10 – Kids $6 – Under 6 are free
  • Open: 7 days a week 10 to 5. Closed on 12/24, 12/25, and 1/1

Woodland Auto Display

  • 4251 Dry Creek Rd, Paso Robles, CA 93446
  • Email: woodlandautodisplay@gmail.com
  • P: 805-238-9317
  • Admission: Adults -$12
    Children 6-12 years $5
    Toddlers under 6 FREE
    Students with student photo ID Card $8.00
    Seniors 60+ $10.00
    Military Veterans $10.00
    Active Military with current ID card FREE
  • Plan: 1hr
  • Open: Thursday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

Image via Trent Cherry

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Article written by AMG guest contributor.


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