Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs Research Archives

Prior to the finalization of the MB Jeep, The American Bantam, Ford, and Willys all created pilot and prototype jeeps in an attempt to win Army contracts. Bantam built the very first jeep, the Bantam BRC. They also built the BRC-60 and BRC-40. Ford built the Pygmy, the Budd, and the GP. Willys built the Willys Quad and the Willys MA. Checker appears to have built one based on Bantam parts. Finally, are rumors of a jeep by York-Hoover, but I’ve never nailed down actual pictures. See this post: http://www.ewillys.com/2010/03/14/york-hoover-all-terrain-prototype/

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1941 Reporter Article on the Blitz Buggy

Associated Press Reporter Sigrid Arne was 47 years old when she rode in a Bantam BRC-60. By that time she was an experienced journalist, a fearless investigative reporter with the smarts to decode and explain New Deal programs to the point that the authors of the programs asked her to join their efforts. She traveled all over the United States, even buying a baby for $50 in Oklahoma at one point to expose how babies were being sold like groceries.

Her report on her first jeep ride sounds like she was thrilled/awed by her experience, but I’m unsure how she concluded that the Bantam had 9 speeds. Sigrid’s article landed in the Montana Standard on May 05, 1941, as well as other newspapers.

This ride wasn’t her last in a jeep, as we will see tomorrow morning.

1941-05-05-montana-standard-sigrid-arne-blitz-buggy-review-lores

 

 
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1941 Photos Related to the Ford GP

1. Ford GPs on assembly line: This March 28, 1941, image shows Ford GPs on the assembly line. It is posted on a Henry Ford’s history page.
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2. Ford gets Priority over Bantam for axles: This January 22, 1941, article in the Indiana Gazette notes a claim by the President of the United Automobile Workers–CIO that Ford was given priority over Bantam on orders for axles, forcing Bantam to miss its deadline for filling their order for the BRC-60s.

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3. Duke of Kent: This photo shows the Duke of Kent riding in a Ford GP at Holabird, Maryland. The photo appeared in the Salem News (Ohio) on August 29, 1941:

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March 1941 Photos of the Ford GP Tests

UPDATE: The Herald-News of Passaic, NJ, published an image of a Ford GP going through its paces. Given the chained tires and other similarities, it appears this photo was likely taken at the same time as one published at the bottom of this post.

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Originally posted May 30, 2020, as part of this post: Here’s an article and a photo showing a couple Ford GPs being run hard, originally printed in the March 09, 1941, issue of the Battle Creek Enquirer:

1941-03-09-battle-creek-enquirer-fordgps-lores

Clipping from Battle Creek Enquirer - Newspapers.com

 
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1945 Canadian Spark Plug Ad w/ Ford GP on eBay

This ad is slightly larger than a postcard.

View all the information on ebay

1945 CANADIAN CANADA AD WWII PATRIOTIC WILLYS JEEP COMMANDOS MACHINE GUNS
100% ORIGINAL NOT A COPY OR REPRINT.
MEASURES ABOUT 5.5 X 6.5 INCHES
THIS ORIGINAL ITEM WOULD BE NICE TO FRAME
GOOD CONDITION.”

champion-spark-plugs-ford-gp-canada-ad

 
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1941 Article on Ford “Blitz Buggy” Production Strike

An April 12, 1941, article from the Escabana Daily Press out of California shows that it wasn’t always easy producing the Ford GPs. In this case striking works (and some reported sabotage of machinery) delayed manufacturing.

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Long article from the same paper: Continue reading

 
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1941 Photo of Edsel Ford in Ford GP Press Day

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old Images

These series of photos show Edsel Ford riding in a “Blitz Buggy”, which we now know as a Ford GP. Note that there’s no reference to the “Ford GP” in any text.

This photo appeared in several newspaper, including the April 11, 1941, issue of the Sikeston Standard out of Missouri.

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Originally published Nov 11, 2014: This photo includes Edsel Ford and was shot at the same event this video was taken.

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Originally published July 12, 2017: The original press photo that appeared in the newspaper at the bottom of this post.

“1941- Edsel Ford, in rear seat, and Brig. Gen. Charles Bonesteel go for a ride in the first Ford GP prototype jeep delivered to the U.S. Army after it rolled off the assembly line at the Ford River Rouge factory in Dearborn, Michigan. Photo measures approx. 7″ x 9″”

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Original posted 06/30/2016:
This photo and caption were published in the March 7, 1941, issue of the Owosso Argus Press. No article accompanied it.

1941-03-07-owosso-argus-press-ford-gp-edsel-ford

 

 
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July 1945 “Jeep Has a Rendezvous With …”

This article was published in the July 15, 1945, issue of the Journal Herald out of Dayton, Ohio. The title of the article is “Jeep Has a Rendezvous With America’s Postwar Era”. It proceed the official press release kit by a few days, so neither photo came from that first press kit.

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The jeep shown on the right is a Willys MA. Back in 2013, a full press photo was sold on eBay. Curiously, the headlight on the driver’s side was missing.

willysma-fishing-photo

 
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1940s Prototype Model Goodyear, AZ $40

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Models

A sale is pending on this model jeep, but it looks to be a model based on the prototypes.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/373333757197973/

“Vintage 1940’s US Army Jeep Toy. This was a wood model assembled and painted very well. The windshield isn’t attached but kind of just sits on the frame. Awesome display piece.”

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Continue reading

 
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Nov. 1941 Photo of Ford GP on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old Images

A Ford GP captured in action.

View all the information on eBay

“1941 Press Photo soldiers drive a jeep thru rough terrain pulling anti-tank gun This is an original press photo. This unit was organized by the 2nd Corps as a weapon of opportunity to combat hostile mechanized threats at any part of the front where the enemy might break through, and is also used against paratroops (parachute troops) or any unexpected threat. The unit is 100% motorized, consisting of three 37 mm batteries, one 75mm battery, one Infantry Battalion, one Engineer Platoon, one Anti-tank Platoon, all equipped with radio communication. Photo shows a jeep crossing rough terrain pulling 37 mm anti-tank gun. Battery D, 44th Division Anti-Tank, Second Corps. (Commanded by Major H.R. Johnson, Wadesboro, N.C. Photo measures 10 x 8.25 inches. Photo is dated 11-03-1941.”

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February 1944 Ad for the “Original Jeep” on eBay

As late as 1944, as this ad demonstrates, the Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Company argued that they had developed the original “Jeep”. But, it’s clear that they lost that battle entirely.

View all the information on eBay

“This is an Original old Vintage Trade Ad from 1944 This print ad Measures Approx: 11 1/4″ x 8 1/4″. This is Not a Photocopy or reproduction.”

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VacuCast Plastic’s Bantam Jeep Prototype 1 Model

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Models

This 1/76th scale plastic jeep represent one of the few commercial models designed based on the original Bantam BRC.  Eventually, I’ll remove it from it’s packaging to better take pics of the parts and the directions.

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October 1941 Color Slide of Willys MA on eBay

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old Images

A color slide from 1941? That’s a rarity.

View all the information on ebay

“Original 35mm film slide.
Subject: U.S. Army MP Willys Jeep at Camp Sibert (or Siebert) in Boulder City, NV.
Date: Oct. 1941
Mount/Film Type: Kodachrome, red border
The scan below has not captured all detail, but shows the relative sharpness of the slide. The green text reading “embitt scan” was superimposed after scanning.”

1941-10-willys-ma-slide

 
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October 1945 Photos that Include a Willys MA

This October 30, 1945, photo coverage from the Rocky Mount Telegram, out of North Carolina, highlights the start of the 8th War Loan drive. It included a photo of a Willys MA leading a series of elephants.

1945-10-30-rocky-mount-telegram-willys-ma-bond-drive-lores

 
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1941 Look Magazine Article “Hell on Wheels”

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Magazine

The August 26, 1941, issue of Look Magazine included this large photo of a Bantam BRC-40. The caption, presumably written by the author of the article, Henry McLemorehistor reads:

THIS MOBILE CHIROPRACTOR I am driving is a half-ton reconnaissance car known to the unit as a Peep or Bo-Peep. It’ll go 60 mph, packs two machine guns, a crew of four. It will take you anywhere, provided you can hang on–actually covering worse terrain than a tank. As soon as the Army has enough Peeps, they will replace motorcycles as dispatch and reconnaissance vehicles. Like all armored-division vehicles, the Peep has four-wheel drive and handles as easily as the highest priced pleasure car. The difference is that you sit on a thin cushion over a steel seat and buckle yourself down with an airplane safety belt. “

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The above photo is from this two page spread:

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This is the magazine cover:

1941-08-26-look-magazine-brc-40-3-lores

 
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1940 News Article — Fort Oglethorpe Receives Midget Autos

This December 22, 1940, article in the Birmingham News highlights the latest arrival of “midget automobiles” at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. I would imagine these are Bantam BRC-60s.

Clipping from The Birmingham News - Newspapers.com

 
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1991 ‘The First 50 Years’ Jeep Press Packet

Thanks to Maury, I was able to get this 1991 press packet off ebay and shipped for under $10. That’s a good day. It wasn’t clear to me all that was inside, but it turned out to be a heck of a deal. The three-page tri-fold stores photos, old press releases, histories, and a few miscellaneous items.

Here’s the front of the packet:

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These are the materials that are stored inside. There are four press releases, fourteen reproduction 8×10 photos, a 40-page AMC/Chrysler history, a jeep history that’s attached to the binder (see upper right corner), one March 1963 Jeep News front-page reproduction and a late 1940s wagon ad reproduction. Just the reproduction of the Willys Quad photo was worth the cost of this package (I’d never gotten around to getting one).jeep-pr-packet-05

I haven’t read this history just yet, but wasn’t in a hurry as I’ve already read this book on AMC’s history:

jeep-pr-packet-06

Here’s how the binder looks when opened. The jeep history starts at the page in the middle.

jeep-pr-packet-07 jeep-pr-packet-08 jeep-pr-packet-09 jeep-pr-packet-10 jeep-pr-packet-11 jeep-pr-packet-12 jeep-pr-packet-13 jeep-pr-packet-14 jeep-pr-packet-15

Under the last page of the jeep history is a holder for all the photos and other documents:

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Here are two 1990s press releases (I only took photos of the front pages):

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These are two 1980s press releases:

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The press release on the left is from early 1942 and covers the changing situation with America’s entry into WWII, while the one on the right is from 1965:

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The Jeep News reproduction page from March 1963 is shown on the left. It includes a report on the name change from Willys Motors to Kaiser Jeep and the Willys-Overland Export Corp. to Kaiser Jeep International Corp. The reproduction wagon ad on the right is from 1948 and includes details on which magazine and dates it appeared (I wish I had that database of information!).

jeep-pr-packet-20-lores

 
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April 1943 “Jeep Club” Ad with Ford GP

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features

This April 21, 1943, ad in the Victoria Advocate, out of Victoria, Texas, might just be the first organized ‘jeep club’. Though, to be fair, this was organized to buy a jeep for the military rather than to organized a group of jeep owners.

Clipping from Victoria Advocate - Newspapers.com

 
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Photos From the UTA Digital Collections

These photos come from the University of Texas at Arlington Digital Archives. You can see a some additional photos with jeeps here: https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/subject/jeep-automobiles

Let’s start with this photo of a Willys MA dash:

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. 56th Cavalry Brigade war maneuvers. (1941). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20048164 … Brigadier General Walter B. Pyron, of Houston, Texas, commander of the 56th Brigade, shown behind the wheel of a jeep. He is wearing a military uniform and a small brimmed hat. He has his hands on the steering wheel and is looking behind him. Willys MA.

A lineup of Ford GPs:

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Camp Bowie Army Maneuvers . (1941). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20048968 … The 18th Field Artillery Brigade’s 77th Field Artillery joins in retreating from an attack during a military training exercise at Camp Bowie. The first battalion is lined up for an evacuation, riding on “blitz buggies.” This battalion is from Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The rest of the 77th is stationed at Fort D. A. Russell, Marfa, Texas. The 77th and 142nd infantry are howitzer units of the brigade. Ford GPs.

Good side shot of a Ford GP:

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Camp Bowie Army maneuvers: Lietenant General Walter Krueger with Major General Claude V. Birkhead and others. (1941). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20053219 ... Camp Bowie Army maneuvers. Four military officers and one military personnel are pictured here. Lieutenant General (LIEUT. GEN.) Walter Krueger, seated in the front passenger seat, Third Army Commander, was in the field almost as much as the participating troops. Here he's leaving 36th Division command post after a conference with Major General (Maj. Gen.) Claude V. Birkhead, division commander, standing by the baby jeep. In the rear seat are, foreground, Lieutenant Colonel (Lieut Col.) George R. Barker, Third Army G-3, and Captain (Capt.) R. H. Chard, Krueger's aid. Driver is Private (Pvt.) Harvey Belote. All are dressed in military uniforms. Published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram morning edition, June 15, 1941.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Camp Bowie Army maneuvers: Lietenant General Walter Krueger with Major General Claude V. Birkhead and others. (1941). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20053219 … Camp Bowie Army maneuvers. Four military officers and one military personnel are pictured here. Lieutenant General (LIEUT. GEN.) Walter Krueger, seated in the front passenger seat, Third Army Commander, was in the field almost as much as the participating troops. Here he’s leaving 36th Division command post after a conference with Major General (Maj. Gen.) Claude V. Birkhead, division commander, standing by the baby jeep. In the rear seat are, foreground, Lieutenant Colonel (Lieut Col.) George R. Barker, Third Army G-3, and Captain (Capt.) R. H. Chard, Krueger’s aid. Driver is Private (Pvt.) Harvey Belote. All are dressed in military uniforms. Published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram morning edition, June 15, 1941. Ford GPs.

Here’s an early Slat Grille MB:

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Army Day Maneuvers: Rides in Dixie Jeeps. (1942). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20053248

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Army Day Maneuvers: Rides in Dixie Jeeps. (1942). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20053248 …. Army Day Celebration. Jeep rides were given citizens when the 31st (Dixie) Division held open house here Sunday as part of the observance of Army Day. On this ride at Farrington Field were Alice McDonald (left) and Jaymie Dobbs, both of Fort Worth, Texas. Members of the Service Company, 155th Infantry, in the jeep are, left to right, Corporal (Corp.) J. H. Reeves, Private (Pvt.) Sam Burroughs, Private (Pvt.) Clyde Russell and Private (Pvt.) Hanson Dunegan. The group are riding in a jeep through Farrington Field. Background showing a goal post and stadium bleachers. Published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram evening edition, April 6, 1942. Willys MB Slatgrille.

Post WWII pic:

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Circle Park School Parent-Teacher Association carnival . (1946). Retrieved from https://library.uta.edu/digitalgallery-beta/img/20058866 … Mr. R. M Baxter is giving a carnival preview ride to 2 pupils of Circle Park Elementary School, Donald Eagle, son of Mr. and Mrs. Don Eagle and Beverly Jean Burns, daughter of Mrs. and Mrs. C. A. Burns. Mr. Baxter will run a jeepney-ride concession at the Circle Park Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association annual carnival. His jeep has a banner of the PTA. Published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram evening edition, October 16, 1946.

 
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1951 Jeepster Live Oak, FL $8500

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Jeepster, Wood bodies • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Back up for sale. 

(12/29/2017) Isn’t this just a little different? It’s sitting on a CJ-5 chassis.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/171228887663624/

“1951 Custom Willys Jeepster Woody. Jeepster front body on 1974 CJ5 4×4 with custom woody back. Std. transmission 3 spd., 4.2 6 cyl. engine. 20″ extended frame. Runs good. Needs new tires and windshield wiper motor. Many new parts.”

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Article and Photos of the Bantam T2E1

UPDATE: An article from 1941 appears to describe the T2E1 Bantams shown in photos below (a few more photos here also). The article describes the rifles as 47mm, while the photo captions correctly describe the rifle as a 37mm. Perhaps the difference is that the article was written in July, while the photos were taken late in August? So, maybe, 47mm rifles might have been initially considered? (47mm anti-tank guns were developed by France as early as 1931)

This article was published July 21, 1941, in the Lansing State Journal out of Michigan:

Clipping from Lansing State Journal - Newspapers.com

Posted August of 2018:

“1941 Press Photo John McCloy & C.M. Drury inspect a new gun mounted on a jeep. This is an original press photo. As the Army’s first “Tank killer” battalion showed off its new fighting technique today, John McCloy (left) assistant secretary of way, and C.M. Drury, assistant special weapons–A 37m. anti-tank gun mounted on the famed “jeep” reconnaissance car. U.S. Army land vehiclesPhoto measures 9.5 x 6.5inches. Photo is dated 08-27-1941.”

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#2: Originally posted 05/08/2018

Continue reading

 
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Prototypes at Fort Custer, Michigan

Fort Custer, Michigan, appears to have been a testing ground for Ford and Willys prototypes. Along with the articles below, there are press photos posted from years passed. You’ll also note that some of the press photos have captions that are printed identically, but pencil-marked up differently. It’s possible someone was selling those as originals when they may not have been.

Here’s an article and a photo showing a couple Ford GPs being run hard, originally printed in the March 09, 1941, issue of the Battle Creek Enquirer:

1941-03-09-battle-creek-enquirer-fordgps-lores

Clipping from Battle Creek Enquirer - Newspapers.com

It didn’t take long for the offload vehicles to become a hit with soldiers. This article appears in the March 25, 1941, issue of the Detroit Free Press:

1941-03-25-detroit-free-press-jeep-testing

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And, just to set the record straight, at Fort Custer a jeep was a jeep and not a ‘peep’.

Clipping from Battle Creek Enquirer - Newspapers.com

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These press photos have been gathered from older posts. First, a couple Willys MA photos from eBay:

This was posted on ebay in June 2017: “1942 Photo WW2 Era Fort Custer MI Versatile Jeep Military Push Ball Game RareYou are bidding on an original Press Photo from a newspaper archive. The photograph measures 6×7 inches and is dated 9-25-1942.”

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Continue reading

 
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Learn(ing) About Blitz Buggies

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old Images

This post began as a single newspaper photo and caption titled “Learn About Blitz Buggies”  that Mario posted to Facebook. Just before I readied the post, I figured I’d see if there was a better quality version of the photo he posted.

To my surprise, when I searched for “About Blitz Buggies”, the results returned numerous seemingly press release photos over the summer and fall of 1941. No credit for the photos are provided. Given the titles are mostly identical and all showed various soldiers “working” (but probably posing) in front  Ford GPs, I can’t help but wonder if this was a subtle campaign by Ford Motors to encourage the adoption of the Ford GP “Blitz Buggy” by the military.

So, here are some random newspaper photos from 1941 (there are many more during 1941).

June 26, 1941, Manhattan Mercury out of Kansas:

1941-06-26-manhattan-mercury-ks-learning-about-blitz-buggies-fordgp-lores

June 17, 1941, Montgomery Advertiser out of Alabama (looks to me like the same person as above, yet the caption shows a different name):

1941-06-27-montgomery-advertiser-learning-about-blitz-buggies-fordgp-loresJuly 13, 1941, Akron Beacon out of Ohio:
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August 16, 1941, Star Gazette out of Elmira, New York:

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August 24, 1941, Austin American out of Texas (that Ford logo looks a little too obvious):

1941-08-24-austin-american-tx-learning-about-blitz-buggies-fordgp-lores

Continue reading

 
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September 1941 Article on Loosing The Army Contract

This September 28th, 1941, article covered the ‘cold shoulder’ given to American Bantam by War Department.

1941-09-28-pittsburgh-sun-telegraph-blitz-buggy-output-curbed-lores

 

 
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Bantam BRC-40 Photo

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old Images

This photo of a Bantam BRC-40 advertising for the Butler County, Pennsylvania, war chest is undated. It was posted to Facebook by the Butlers Standard Eight, a group the preserves early vehicle related information pertaining to Butler County.

https://www.facebook.com/ButlersStandardEight/photos/a.235857016453226/3119845178054381/?type=3&theater

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January 1942 Article From Scientific American “Meet the Jeep”

UPDATE: Don makes some good points in his comment below as to why there might not be any MBs pictured.

The January 1942 issue of Scientific American included an article titled “Meet the Jeep”, one I’ve been waiting about 7 years to snag. For some reason, though MBs were already being produced, no images of the MB were included. Instead, the first image shows a Ford GP. The second photo shows a Bantam BRC-40 T2E1.

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