Jeep Willy
Vehicle Make/Model Specifications:
Make: Jeep
Model: Willy
Jeep Willy

As tensions were heightening around the world in the late 1930s, the United States Army put the word out to American automobile manufacturers to come up with suggestions to replace its existing and aging light motor vehicles. They were mostly concerned with their motorcycles and sidecars but also some Ford model-Ts. This resulted in several prototypes being presented to army officials, like five Marmon-Herrington 4×4 Fords in 1937, and three Austin roadsters by American Bantam in 1938. However, the US Army's requirements were not clearly stated until July 11, 1940, when 135 U.S. automotive manufacturers were approached to submit a design conforming to their specifications. They were looking for a vehicle described as a general purpose, personnel or cargo carrier. Additionally, they desired a model that was especially adaptable for reconnaissance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton. The Willys MB US Army Jeep, along with the nearly identical Ford GPW were manufactured from 1941 to 1945. They are the iconic World War II Jeep. Willys made its first 25,000 MB Jeeps with a welded flat iron radiator grille, but it was Ford that first designed and implemented the now familiar and distinctive slotted steel grille. The latter was lighter, used fewer resources to produce and was less costly. Along with many other design features innovated by Ford, this was adopted by Willys and implemented into the standard WW II Jeep by April 1942. Through a long path of corporate take-overs, AM General Corporation ended up with the rights to use the seven-slot grille as well, which they in turn extended to General Motors when they sold GM the rights to the Hummer name in 1999. Even today, some 65 years later, the Jeep automakers proudly retain the historical connection to their ancestors by using a trademarked grille featuring a standard number of vertical openings or slots.

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