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The 1940 Buddy (a Ford Pygmy/Budd prototype)

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs • TAGS: , This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

1940_budd_ford8In late 1940, after testing the Bantam prototype BRC (the Mark I) for one month,  the Quartermaster Corp Technical committee was impressed enough to ask Bantam for 70 additional pilot versions to test (these would be the BRC-60 or Mark IIs).  They also asked Willys and Ford to submit prototypes.  While Willys submitted a two wheel Quad for testing (they made another prototype: a 4 wheel steering Quad), Ford built 2 prototypes: one is the Pygmy (still exists) and the other was a Pygmy/Budd prototype called a Buddy. (Note that I attempt to use the same designations for pilot/prototype that Frederic Coldwell uses in his Preproduction Civilian Jeeps book.)

While the Ford Pygmy was submitted to the Quartermaster for testing, the Pygmy/Budd hybrid was not.  The history is hazy, but the original Budd disappeared into the California desert at some point. Miraculously, it was relocated by Jeff Polidoro in 1998.  The rumor is that is sold for $50,000 and was restored in 2005- 2006 by owner Fred Smith. There’s more about Fred Smith and his restoration of this vehicle.  The Buddy is now located in the UK.

The biggest difference between the Pygmy and Buddy, to the best of my information, was that the body was built by the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing and looked fairly different from the Pygmy.  Below are pictures I’ve collected across the internet about the Budd. Apparently, Budd also designed the KubelWagon body prior to WWII.   And, apparently, Budd had a role in designing the M151.

Here’s before and after pics of the Pygmy/Budd that I’ve found across the net:

Before Restoration:

Pic below found here


Pic below found here on the CJ-3B site


Note the California License Plate;  Pic below found here


Note the Dana 18 driver side drop transfer case; Pic below found here


Pic below found here


Pic below found here


After major restoration:

Pic below from this link


Pic below from this link (Old pic?)

Below pic incorrectly labeled a Pygmy.  Old Pic?



8 Comments on “The 1940 Buddy (a Ford Pygmy/Budd prototype)

  1. Pingback: Fred Smith, Rare Jeep Collector | eWillys

  2. John YEASH

    Great pictures. Thrilled that it was properly restored. I’ve been trying to find out if it was since I first saw picture on the CJ IIIB website several years ago. Where is it located now and is it available to visit ?

  3. David Eilers

    Thanks for the link and the research. I sure hope you find it!

    Are you sure it was a Ford? Bantam BRC-60s and 40s also had the transfercase shift levers on the left rather than the right.

    I was just in Fairbanks and then Anchorage as a part of the Alaska Or Rust adventure last month (

    – Dave

  4. Thomas Gatchell

    I am still astounded that the story is Jeff found it in the deserts of California. It was found in my friend’s/coworker’s backyard in Riverside, California. Elbert’s father had gotten the Budd in a trade sometime in the late 50s or early 60s.

    Jeff Polidoro and Todd Paisley reached out to me after I had taken the pictures and posted them on a Jeep Forum. I looked everywhere and found nothing that looked like it anywhere at the time.

    We had no idea it was a 1940 Budd until Jeff was singing the Bill of Sale he was writing up at the time.

    I am so happy that it did get fully restored. I am also happy that I had a small hand in that.

    FYI, Jeff paid $12,500 for the Budd. He gave me $500 as a finder’s fee when I picked him up at LAX

  5. David Eilers


    Thanks for that additional info! I appreciate you taking the time to correct the history. It’s funny how stories evolve (most often away from the truth). I too am glad it found a home and was properly restored!

    – Dave

  6. Derek Redmond

    The story about the late Jeff Polidoro finding it in the desert has no doubt been copied a few times from my article on, which for many years was the only information online about the Budd Ford. That story was what Jeff and Todd told me for publication at the time (1998) and I think they just didn’t want to be making unnecessary details public.

    I hadn’t seen pictures of the restoration until the article in the Spring 2021 issue of “The Dispatcher”, which also has a whole bunch of archival photos taken at the factory.

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