jeep-name Research Archives

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1941 Article Introducing the Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old Images, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

Mario shared this article on Facebook from the May 25, 1941, issue of the Des Moines Register. A report describes his experience riding in one and imagines how it might be used. I find the claim that it would go “87-miles-an-hour–without opening it up” a stretch, but that was likely just a propaganda plug.

1941-05-25-desmoines-register-fordgp

 
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August 1942 Letter-to-Editor Discusses Jeep Name

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: , .

This summer of 1942 highlights some of the confusion surrounding the jeep name and might be one of the first documented instances of someone claiming that GP became jeep. As I’ve argued, I see no reason to believe that’s the case.

1941-08-life-magazine-comments-jeep-name

 
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1939 Boy’s Life Article Using the Term “Jeep”

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

A May 1939 article shown below from Boy’s Life adds to the evidence that the use of the term Jeep existed prior to the introduction of the Bantam BRC in September of 1940.

By November 1940, the term “jeep” was being applied to the Bantam jeep (and/or the Willys Quad, delivered in mid-November), according to court records, months before the delivery of the Ford “GP” model in March of 1941 ((the Ford Pygmy was delivered to Holabird near the end of November of 1940).

To me this opens up a question. Was the P=80″ wheel base a chance coincidence? Or was Ford cognizant that the new 4×4 vehicles were being called jeeps, so they purposefully took advantage of that to use the “P” to spell the onomatopoeia-initialism “gp” or “geepee” or “geep” as part of the delivery contract? I suppose Ford had a designation that O=70″ wheel base and Q=90″? If so, I’ve not personally seen those designations documented.

Now, modern articles call the Pygmy the “Pygmy GP-1” (or similar), giving it credit for being the first Ford GP. But, I have yet to see any documentation that Ford or anyone else was calling the Pygmy a “GP”.

In fact, two articles from 1940 indicate the new Ford recon car is called only a Pygmy and that more pygmies will be delivered in the future. See the middle and right column articles on this page (http://www.memorialmuseum.org/displaysmilitary-jeeps/item/ford-pygmy) (note that the 1969 article on the left hand side of the page does designate the vehicle GP-1, but again, that’s a much later article).

My guess is that the GP designation was more strategic than the innocent explanation of G=”Government” and P=80″ suggests. I’d welcome evidence showing the Pygmy was labeled a FORD GP from any kind of article or document from the late 1940s. (maybe this issue has been hashed out previously and I’m late to the party???)

In the meantime, here’s the Boy’s Life article (you can read it online).

1939-05-boys-life-jeep-special

 
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1941 Article About Ford’s “Pygmy” Production

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

This article was published in the February 28, 1941, issue of the Milwaukee Journal. Seemed like a good companion piece to the photo above.

1941-02-28-milwaukee-journal-pygmy-fordgp

 

 
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1944 Court Case Regarding Jeep Name

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

According to this article, drivers began calling the vehicles “jeeps” by November of 1940.

1944-10-10-toledoblade-jeep-name

 
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The Official name for the Jeep — Peep? Bantam Car? Other?

• CATEGORIES: Features, Old News Articles • TAGS: .

By April 1942 newspaper editors weren’t sure what to call the new fangled quarter-ton bantam-willys-ford invention. The problem was highlighted in this Sarasota-Herald-Tribune article which surveyed editors’ uses of different descriptive words. Note the naval editor’s response at the very bottom of the article.

1942-04-16-sarasota-herald-tribune-jeep-or-peep

Eventually, a decision was made. In May of 1942 newspapers announced the armored division officially named the quarter-ton command/reconnaissance car the ‘Peep’, while the half-ton armored car was called the ‘Jeep’. The Milwaukee Journal published two photos to help readers distinguish between the two.

1942-04-22-milwaukee-journal-jeep-peep

That’s a Ford GP at the top, while at the bottom is what I believe to be an early Dodge Command Car. You can view other earlier examples like the one above at the Command Car site.

This article in the Pittsburgh Press, in May of 1942 confirms that the names “jeep” and “peep” had been transformed from slang into legitimate words that could appear in dictionaries.

1942-05-24-pittsburgh-press-jeep-peep

 

As late as 1984, some WWII vets didn’t know why they called the jeep a peep. According to this article in the Spokane-Review, Patton’s 3rd Army Armored Division continued to call the jeep a peep throughout the war.