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1941 Photo of Bantam at DC Steps **SOLD**

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

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was on eBay. This photo was floating one of the Facebook groups, but didn’t include the caption, which describes the passengers. This was originally published here Dec 23, 2014. 

The question of the license plate came up on Facebook (as in, why does it have a license plate), while the question of “giant jeep” came up in a previous post on eWillys. The thing that’s been a head scratcher for me is that this jeep is carrying three grown men in the front, with space between the driver and the two passengers.

What is for certain is that in May 1941 Charles Payne (exec assistant to Bantam President Frank Fenn), was in Washington to promote Bantam’s efforts (see newspaper article at the bottom of this post). 

So, thinking out loud, is it possible that the below verbiage is true, that Bantam made a “giant” or larger jeep to promote its effort to obtain a contract? It would explain why it has dealer plates (as it wasn’t owned by the military). Here’s a comparison with another face-front Bantam:


Photo on the left is a press photo with a standard Bantam BRC-40. The one on the right is the press photo with Congress men and Bantam Rep Charles Payne.

The angle of the jeep on the right going up the steps makes it appear a little larger, so that’s not helpful. One unusual aspect is that it seems to sit taller, with a greater distance between the tires and the front fenders; yet, the spring shacks still have more play in them than the photo on the left. However, all this could be the effect of being on the stairs with six people piled in it.

The license plate, unless enlarged, suggests that the jeep on the left is not giant, but rather a standard sized jeep. Therefore, my suspicion is that this isn’t a larger jeep. So, why the “giant jeep” comment was used by the reporter is still a mystery to me. Thoughts?

From the original eBay ad: “A Vintage1941 Original Photo depicting a Giant Jeep carrying politicians in Washington D.C. The vehicle was made by the makers of the U.S. Army’s newest midget to promote their new vehicle to the suits in Washington. The small four-wheel drive utility vehicles would become an icon of World War II. Original press stamp and caption with a MAY 25 1941 stamp date are on the verso.”

1941-05-22-brc40-DC-steps1 1941-05-22-brc40-DC-steps2

This photo was published in the May 26, 1941, issue of the Star Tribune out of Minneapolis, Minnesota:


This article from May 04, 1941, published in the Dayton Daily News (Ohio) provides additional information on Charles Payne’s visit, but doesn’t elaborate on the “Giant Jeep”, which may have been an Associate Press reporter creation:



7 Comments on “1941 Photo of Bantam at DC Steps **SOLD**

  1. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    Come on, Dave, of course you couldn’t have an unregistered/unplated jeep drive up the Capitol steps. What would people think??
    Actually, I think it’s kind of cool that Bantam had a Pennsylvania dealer plate on this jeep. It let everyone know where it came from.

  2. Craig/Vermont

    To me, it looks to me to be a regular Jeep…The angle of the pic (perhaps with a ‘wide ange camera ?’, and the occupants ‘scrunching’ together so everyone is posed for the pic makes it look bigger than usual…

  3. Ill Chris

    Looks to me the driver is the only one in the jeep. If the man on the far left was sitting in the jeep his shoulders would be more square to the front as is the driver. Looks like they are crouched down behind it for the photo.

  4. Blaine

    With the front wheels on the fourth step up and two people in the back, the front will be light and sitting higher on the springs. The guy on the right in the picture is in the jeep as you can see his shadow on the ground within the shadow of the jeep. I see a set of steps behind the group of people. Judging by the rock wall along the walkway, the picture is taken on the west side looking towards the Washington Monument.

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