Joe and his GPW attended the 24th Annual Military Vehicle Show held by the Arizona Military Vehicle Collectors Club this past weekend. It looks like he was having plenty of fun!
Here’s an unpublished photo of Helen and Frank and their gap Tortuga that I hadn’t seen. This is from their initial trip down to South America.
“1956 Press Photo Helen and Frank Schreider Viewing Plaza De Mayo From Their Jeep”
Robin spotted this jeep for the jeep collector with almost everything.
“Original Item: Only One Available. The Ford GPA ‘Seep’ (Seagoing Jeep) was an amphibious version of the WWII Ford GPW Jeep. Only 12,778 were ever produced making this one of the most rare military vehicles in existence today.
This particular example was awarded the highest-level GOLD AWARD with a rating of 99.007% at the 2011 MVPA (Military Vehicle Preservation Association) National Convention in Dayton Ohio, making this the finest GPA in existence on earth.
It has been restored to 100% original factory unissued parts in exacting detail. It runs flawlessly both on land and in water and will be the focal point of any collection. The Jeep has all matching serial numbers (#22741) and was delivered to the Army on 11/4/1942. It was found, rebuilt and restored by former president of the MVPA, master restorer David Welch owner of Ramshorn Creek Restorations. It has no equal and should actually be in the Smithsonian (if they didn’t already have one, still ours is better!).
This GPA has clear title and is currently registered in the state of New Jersey as an antique. It is 100% street legal and transferable. Transportation within the continental USA is included in the purchase price. Overseas customers must contact us for a quote.”
These photos were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in July 27, 1943. In the top pic it looks like the driver jumped this off the end of a dock.
The note at the bottom dates this March 8, 1943, but initial tests of the GPA were in spring of 1942. Perhaps this is just a driver learning how to drive one.
“You are bidding on an original press photo from a published newspaper. The photo is 11.5 x 8.”
I can’t quite tell what’s painting on the jeep’s front bumper.
“Original WWII Photo
86th Fighter Group Photo
Great shots in this listing group. Check other listings for rare shots of the A-36 Apache!
NOT A PRESS PHOTO – NO MASS PRODUCED Photos”
Marc spotted this classic photo of Ben Carlin’s Half-Safe GPA.
“This is an original press photo. of AustrailiaPhoto measures 9 x 7.25inches.”
Anyone ever of this former Pennsylvania ride?
The caption on the back of this postcard reads:
SCENIC JEEP RIDES & ARCHERY at Cook Forest State Park on State Highway 36 along the Clarian River in north-western Pennsylvania. Wild life is plentiful in the park and may be seen by the alert visitor
Here’s an original press photo of Half-Safe landing in Shenya, AK, on July 9, 1957.
Marc forwarded this rare GPA for sale.
Here is the opportunity to add one of the best and most complete GPA’s in the world to your collection. This is a fully turnkey vehicle that needs nothing and is ready to drive or swim anywhere today. It is complete with every accessory including original manuals, tools, and GPA Spare Parts Kits. Most people in the GPA community knows the story of my extensive 8 year collecting and restoration that this vehicle went through. Those around the world that know me, know this was my obsession for over a decade and I have met some wonderful friends. The GPA has been shown and has won best in show, first place, etc. in every show/rally it has ever been entered in. The extensive 3800 hour restoration was done professionally and is fully documented. It has been acknowledged by world experts that this is one of the best GPA’s in the world. The vehicle is a head turner.
Following a successful 1954-1955 Pan-American trip and lecture series, Helen and Frank Schreider began working with National Geographic in the late 1950s. They apparently struck a two part exploration plan. First, the couple would travel along India’s Ganges River Plain in a Ford GPA from the mouth of the river to its source and report on their experience. Second, they’d head toward Indonesia for a much longer adventure, which they described in the Drums of Tonkin.
The 1954-1955 drive through Central and South America beat up their original Ford GPA, ‘La Tortuga’, badly. While they shipped La Tortuga back to California after reaching Tiera Del Fuego, it appears the damage was bad enough that they didn’t attempt to use that GPA to travel again. So, for their new adventure to India and Indonesia they modified a second GPA, calling it La Tortuga II. One way to tell the difference between I and II is the location of the exhaust pipe. On I it is farther behind the lights than it is on II. One reason for this is that the cabin extends farther forward on II than on I. Here are comparison photos:
Their five month 1960 India adventure from the mouth of the Ganges to it’s source filled forty-two pages of the October, 1960, issue of National Geographic. There’s a definite shift from reporting about their seep and their obstacles, as they did in their first book, to an emphasis on the people and cultures they encountered. In other words, they focused less on adventure and more on anthropology and biology. Still, there are a few photos of La Tortuga II as they explored the waters and plains of the region.
Thanks to several readers who alerted me to some Ford GPA photos on eBay. After closer inspection (and a little studying) I learned this is not a SEEP and not built on the jeep chassis, but rather a vehicle called the Aqua Chetah built on a half-ton chassis and called a G552.
According to this Australian website, Roger W. Hofheins approached the US Military just prior to the US involvement in WWII about building an amphibious assault vehicle. Hofheins proceeded to create some designs and the Amphibian Car Corporation built them. According to Amphibiousvehicles.com, only four prototypes were built utilizing three different designs. As you can see in the photos below, its smooth front and cowl are quite a bit different than the GPAs. Its side profile isn’t as refined either.
There’s a neat video of one being tested in 1942 in Holabird, MD: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675068957_aqua-cheetah_moves-in-water_moves-on-a-road_a-sea-jeep
The Amphibian Car Co. was based in Buffalo, New York. At the Buffalo & Erie County Library is an eight page book published by the company. According to World Cat, there are also some archive information, including a newspaper article from 1941. If anyone has some time, it might be interesting to see what’s there.
1) First Photo for sale. View all the information on eBay
2) Second photo for sale. View all the information on eBay
3) Third photo for sale. View all the information on eBay:
More links, photos and information:
- Video: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675068957_aqua-cheetah_moves-in-water_moves-on-a-road_a-sea-jeep
- Amphibious Vehicles Website: http://www.amphibiousvehicle.net/amphi/Ao_Az.html
- The book Camp Edwards and Otis Air Force Base has some photos and information.
- The G503 site has a picture of one prototype being moved that was originally posted at photobucket.
- This site from the Netherlands has more information: http://forum.ktr.nl/index.php?topic=235.0
- Rotorua Duck Tours: http://www.rotoruaducktours.co.nz/dukw-history
I think this is the first photo of the GPA production line that I’ve seen.
“1943 Press Photo Sea Jeep production fro the Army in Dearborn Michigan”
In 1954, Helen and Frank Schreider drove a Ford GPA (amphibious jeep) named Tortuga from the Arctic Circle to the southern most town in South America, Ushuaia, Argentina. They published a book about their adventure called 20,000 Miles South: A Pan-American Adventure in a Seagoing Jeep from the Arctic Circle. It was a book I enjoyed.
In 1960, Helen and Frank began a new adventure in India. For unknown reasons, Tortuga was replaced by the Tortuga II (Amphibious Vehicle website has a great comparison information between Tortuga I and Tortuga II). Perhaps the original Tortuga was too damaged to undertake another long trek. The goal of their Indian adventure was to explore the Ganges river plain and write an article for National Geographic (which appeared in the October 1960 issue). I have the article, but have yet to read it.
In 1961, following their India adventure, the pair undertook an even longer expedition. They wanted to explore Indonesia’s Lesser Sundas, a chain of islands stretching 3000 miles from Bali to Timor. Their adventure filled two large articles for National Geographic (Indonesia: Young and Troubled Nation in the May 1961 issue and East from Bali by Seagoing Jeep in the August 1962 issue). They also published a book in 1963 called the Drums of Tonkin: An Adventure in Indonesia.
Both the National Geographic articles about Indonesia and their Drums of Tonkin book are dense with cultural references and photographs. Unfortunately, both the articles and the book over-burdened me with local references to such a degree that for me the story was less compelling than their 20,000 Miles book. This likely reflects a larger emphasis on anthropology, geography, and biology, a result of their funding by National Geographic.
Despite the compelling prose, there were plenty of photographs to enjoy. Here’s just a few. This first one is pretty self-explanatory.
According to the New York Times obituary for Frank, who died in 1994 in Crete, the couple joined National Geographic in 1967 and continued to have additional adventures by vehicle, foot and boat. However, there is no record that they ever traveled by GPA.
Mark asked about finding a SEEP in a museum. So, I this post reflects GPAs in museums and around the world. I’m sure there are others. If you know of any more, please email me a link or add it to the comments.
In Bangkok, Thailand, this SEEP is housed with several other jeeps at the Chokchai Museum. This video shows a short walk around. That might be a M-606 next to it.
Back in 2010 I posted this GPA that’s housed in the South African Military Museum in Johannesburg.
I’ve never seen a photo of a GPA used as an ambulance. But, apparently this one was carrying wounded soldiers from the front.
Marc spotted this great photo of a GPA emerging from the river.
“1943- Soldiers from Fort Wayne give Ford amphibian reconnaissance cars a workout on river in Detroit.”
I’ve seen similar photos, but always nice to have the accompanying press photo info.
“This is an original press photo. Dept – US Army, Credit – NEA and ACME Photo measures 9.25 x 7inches. Photo is dated 03-16-1943.”
This is a project, but includes a GPA motor.
“I have a 1943 Willys jeep for sale, in process of restoring but moving forces sale, frames is excellent, normal rusted out areas for body, but easy fix, engine does turn over, transfer case is good, still some orginal paint on all parts, “F” stamped transmission and transfer case, GPA motor, rare engine. DOD is FEB 19-29 1943….Have title that matches orginal body/Frame. Engine was overhauled in Topeka KS 08/24/1945 with all STD bearings so you know it wasn’t abused. Has 4 Combat rims
In photo it has cj2 headlights but previous owner just mounted them there, not buckets, has hinged brackets under hood.”
UPDATE II: Not only did they publish a book, but they also filmed a documentary in color, called We Made the “Impossible” Tour, that was part of a lecture tour. In addition, their adventure was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1957:
January 12, 1957, We Made the “Impossible” Tour, Part One: How We Motored Through the Jungle
January 19, 1957, We Made the “Impossible” Tour: Part Two: How We Went to Sea in a Jeep
January 26, 1957, We Made the “Impossible” Tour, Part Three: Island-Hopping the Spanish Main
February 2, 1957, We Made the “Impossible” Tour: Part Four: Trigger-Happy Territory
February 9, 1957, We Made the “Impossible” Tour: Conclusion:The Land of Fire – three agonizing miles of travel in southern Argentina.
UPDATE: This same book is published under a different name with some different photos: “La Tortuga an amphibious journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego”. I could not find a copy for sale when I last looked.
“20,000 Miles South: A Pan-American Adventure in a Seagoing Jeep from the Arctic Circle” by Helen and Frank Schreider is a great read. In the book they relate their first failed attempt to travel south in a Willys Wagon, which leads to their decision to try it in a SEEP (named La Tortuga). In 1954, they started their journey south, sharing in the book their struggles, successes and failure. At one point they try to drive down a railroad track, but are forced to give up the effort due to the damage the track inflicted on the SEEP. At another point they enter the country of Colombia by water, only to be told when they attempt to exit the country that they didn’t get the proper stamp (because they entered via the water). These are just some of the challenges they face.
I’d have to say this is one of my favorite jeep related books that I have read. After the “20,000 Miles” book they wrote the “Drums of Tonkin“, which is about a trip through Indonesia, and “Exploring the Amazon.” They also joined National Geographic as photographers and authors.
Frank died in 1974 at the age of 70. He suffered a heart attack in the cabin of his sail boat, Sassafras, while anchored off the island of Crete. I suspect that’s the way he would have wanted it. Helen was still alive and living in New Mexico at last report.
La Tortuga was re-discovered in California in 2006 and shipped to Norway. La Tortuga appears to still be for sale.
It appears you can borrow a copy of the book through the open library project. Learn more here. Here are some photos. This is a shot of the inside cover which shows the path they drove/boated:
This photo was taken after the maiden voyage in Balboa Bay, California. Helen is holding onto their dog, Dinah, who could often be found riding on top of the cabin.
Glenn spotted this rare item on eBay. The seller has listed it as “FOR TRADE ONLY”.
“TRADE GPA PTO FOR USED MB GPW WINDSHIELD AND SEATS.
PTO has been taken apart, cleaned and freed up so the selectors and gears move freely. the detent springs for the shifter levers need replacing and 1 ball needs more freeing up. some minor pitting inside. one lever is cut short. there are no broken gears or teeth. the propshaft yolk holes are 3/8″.
it will require a rebuild including new bearings and seal and gasket.
LOCAL PICKUP IN CAMARILLO, CALIF ONLY WITH YOUR WINDSHIELD AND SEATS TRADE ITEMS.
IF INTERESTED IN THE TRADE, CONTACT ME- DO NOT PLACE BID. DO NOT USE PAYPAL (it is listed by default per ebay policy)
ITEM IS LISTED LOCALLY ALSO, SO I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO END LISTING.”
Here’s a good shot of a SEEP’s underside during a test course run.
Marc forwarded this great photo.
“Amphibian Jeeps Assembly Line 1943″
Alex, who directs Tahiti-Pacifique Magazine, forwarded these two photos.
For unknown reasons, the driver of this DUKW (thanks Bob) must have had quite a drive!
Alex writes, “Photo of 1954 peace treaty delegation between the French and the Vietminh. The French army used mostly US WW2 surplus equipment in that war. The US took over after the 1954 defeat, Indochina became Vietnam, the Vietminh became Vietcong and the issue was the same 20 years later. “