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1944 Forbes Article on the Peacetime Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine

This Forbes November 15, 1944, article titled “Will the Jeep Invade Peacetime Markets” is a pretty sober look at the reality of the WWII jeep. That’s probably because the author, Francis “Frank” Fenn, was the former President of American Bantam at the time the Bantam BRC was developed (one person argued that Frank was the actual father of the jeep).

With tweaks to the basic WWII jeep, Fenn predicted the CJ could do quite a bit, but would never make a good around-town or travel car due to it’s rough ride and basic functions. He predicted, rightly, that it would take a quite a bit of engineering for the vehicle to meet the average family’s on-road needs.

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3 Comments on “1944 Forbes Article on the Peacetime Jeep

  1. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    A display of sour grapes from the guy that got shut out from Jeep production, don’t you think?

  2. Barry

    Barney Roos actually said many of the same things – but with a more positive attitude. Here is some comments from a 1943 Washington Post article –
    Says Roos:

    “It has great possibilities in agriculture where a small farm is involved, where you don’t have your money tied up in a truck and in a tractor or in a power plant. When the war ends there will be many thousands of these jeeps that can be bought from the government at low prices by the farmers.”

    “Certainly, the jeep is not going to affect the passenger car because no one wants a four-wheel drive passenger car that has big tires and is a hog on gasoline. It would eat up tires and gasoline and would be expensive. But it may profoundly affect the agricultural truck.”

    He clearly didn’t foresee the current crop of Wrangler owners….

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Steve: No doubt Frank may have been a little frustrated, but I think he called it correctly. In my opinion, the jeep brand didn’t make inroads as a true family vehicle until the more family-friendly, softer-riding Wagoneers, then Cherokees were introduced. It’s not that wagons weren’t used by families in the 40s and 50s, but the ride was no match for the softer rides of other vehicles.

    Barry: Barney Roos was correct that the jeep could be more expensive on gas and tires, but the *ride* of the WWII jeep was jarring and in-the-elements tiring (which is the only jeep-reference point Frank had). Frank recognized that the jeep was ill-prepared for those times when your family simply wanted to go to church and look nice when you arrived. Instead, a WWII jeep was more likely to beat you up on rough roads due to its stiff suspension, while the wind messed up your hair and wrinkled your clothes. I am reminded of my drive last year to my father’s burial in nice clothes. To honor him, I dressed nicely, but also took my DJ-3A (no top). I didn’t look quite as nice as when I started the drive and it was only a 15 minute drive!

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