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1942 Photo of the Fitch Jeep Station Wagon Car

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Unusual • TAGS: .

UPDATE II: Marc noted the the rear of the vehicle is based on a Renault Juvaquatre. It just so happens this car is somewhat based on the German Opel, which Wally King used to create his Jeepster-like vehicle in Germany following WWII.

UPDATE:  UndiscoveredClassics.com had some additional insights into this vehicle. I tried to learn more about Captain Richard C. Fitch of the Second Regiment Mechanized Cavalry Reserve, Los Angeles, but didn’t have much luck. I did learn he was a design engineer for the Army and was responsible for the MT Tug design (see below post). Below is a photo of how it looked in a newspaper. 

1942-03-18-sacramento-bee-richard-c-fitch-jeep-station-wagon-lores

March 18, 1942, issue of the Sacramento Bee, page 14.

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Originally published March 2014:  I wonder what ever happened to this prototype? Marc spotted this unusual photo. The vehicle doesn’t seem very jeep-like, except in its compact design and front clip similarity. It doesn’t appear it was four wheel drive.

1942-03-08-fitch-jeep-wagon-car1 1942-03-08-fitch-jeep-wagon-car2

The image was picked up and published by a couple newspapers. Below are links to Newspaper.com that show a small image of the page. The caption vary slightly:
1. The Amarillo Globe (Amarillo, Texas) March 18th, 1942, on Page 2
2. The Statesville Record and Landmark (Statesville, NC) March 16th, 1942, Page 4

 

14 Comments on “1942 Photo of the Fitch Jeep Station Wagon Car

  1. Colin Peabody

    The wheels appear to be 1937-38 Ford wheels, so possibly this is sitting on a Ford passenger car chassis. The rear portion of the station wagon, windshield back, doesn’t appear to be American design, more like English Ford stuff.

  2. Iowa steve

    That world was delayed in coming. Most of the new plastics discovered in the 1930s were monopolized by the military over the course of World War II. Eager to conserve precious rubber, for instance, in 1941 the U.S. Army put out an order that all combs issued to servicemen be made of plastic instead of hard rubber. So every member of the armed forces, from private to general, in white units and black, got a five-inch black plastic pocket comb in his “hygiene kit.” Of course, plastics were also pressed into far more significant service, used for mortar fuses, parachutes, aircraft components, antenna housing, bazooka barrels, enclosures for gun turrets, helmet liners, and countless other applications. Plastics were even essential to the building of the atomic bomb: Manhattan Project scientists relied on Teflon’s supreme resistance to corrosion to make containers for the volatile gases they used. Production of plastics leaped during the war, nearly quadrupling from 213 million pounds in 1939 to 818 million pounds in 1945.
    Come V-J Day, however, all that production potential had to go somewhere, and plastics exploded into consumer markets. (Indeed, as early as 1943, DuPont had a whole division at work preparing prototypes of housewares that could be made of the plastics then commandeered for the war.) Just months after the war’s end, thousands of people lined up to get into the first National Plastics Exposition in New York, a showcase of the new products made possible by the plastics that had proven themselves in the war. For a public weary of two decades of scarcity, the show offered an exciting and glittering preview of the promise of polymers. There were window screens in every color of the rainbow that would never need to be painted. Suitcases light enough to lift with a finger, but strong enough to carry a load of bricks. Clothing that could be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Fishing line as strong as steel. Clear packaging materials that would allow a shopper to see if the food inside was fresh. Flowers that looked like they’d been carved from glass. An artificial hand that looked and moved like the real thing. Here was the era of plenty that the hopeful British chemists had envisioned. “Nothing can stop plastics,” the chairman of the exposition crowed.
    All those ex-GIs with their standard-issue combs were coming home to a world of not only material abundance but also rich opportunities created by the GI Bill, housing subsidies, favorable demographics, and an economic boom that left Americans with an unprecedented level of disposable income. Plastics production expanded explosively after the war, with a growth curve that was steeper than even the fast-rising GNP’s. Thanks to plastics, newly flush Americans had a never-ending smorgasbord of affordable goods to choose from. The flow of new products and applications was so constant it was soon the norm. Tupperware had surely always existed, alongside Formica counters, Naugahyde chairs, red acrylic taillights, Saran wrap, vinyl siding, squeeze bottles, push buttons, Barbie dolls, Lycra bras, Wiffle balls, sneakers, sippy cups, and countless more things.

  3. Iowa steve

    The board briefly considered a plan that would have required five smaller automobile producers to “lump” their passenger car output.
    All manufacturing would have taken place in one plant, thereby freeing the other four firms to concentrate solely on military output. Under the plan, name plates from Hudson, Nash, Packard, Studebaker and Willys would be attached to one Victory Car model
    ———————————–
    Finally read your source for additional info. It was proposed to combine 5 smaller companies for continued production. In the end it was decided to cancel ALL civilian production and everyone produced for the military. Very interesting. a lot of ideas were explored ,this could have happened.

  4. MARC SLIWOWSKI

    Hello, except for the front, the whole vehicle is a Renault light van Juvaquatre 250kg. mass-produced in France from the end of 1938. what is extraordinary is that this van is fitted with side windows, which makes it the first station wagon on this model. In France the station wagon was produced only from 1948.
    The export of this type of vehicle to the USA was very limited before the war. Was this photo actually taken in the USA in 1942?

  5. David Eilers

    Marc, thanks for the added insights. The date of the photo is confirmed by both the newspaper and the press photo.

  6. David Eilers

    Marc, if you haven’t seen it, you might be interested in this post WWII jeepster-like vehicle that was based on the pre-war German Opel, given the Juvaquatre was also, based on what I’ve read, a derivative of the Opel. There must have been something about the measurements of those vehicles (or their cost or both) that made them attractive for this modification?

    http://www.ewillys.com/2019/03/06/wally-cohn-jeep-king/

  7. MARC SLIWOWSKI

    David, thank You for the link.
    Indeed, this Olympia looks like the Renault Juvaquatre unless it is the opposite. The incredible thing for me is that it was a small Renault van that was chosen to create this liberty car, its production started in France in September 1938 and ended at the end of 1939 (only 2000 ex) And that at least one model ended up in California me sounds incredible. It is really a small van and in the middle of American cars it must have seemed Liliputian. I would like to know more about this vehicle and know what has become of it, I have browsed the online archives of newspapers.com but apart from a multitude of the same picture and comment I have not found more….

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