M ost Americans have a picture in their mind when they hear the phrase “army jeep.” However, like most collector arenas, military jeeps have their nuances that will make one olive drab four-wheel-drive “truck” worth tens of thousands while another may only be worth a couple of thousand. This photo guide will tell you if your jeep is worth a box of rations or a complete weekend pass.
American Bantam Car Co. supplied 2,675 BRC-40’s to the U.S. Army for testing in early 1941. A two-piece windshield, flat-hood and a “slat” grille with headlights set into fenders are identifying characteristics of BRC-40’s. These are rare vehicles and, if restored to original configuration (including the correct Continental Y-4112 four-cylinder engine), will sell for $40,000-$60,000.
The “GP” was Ford’s entry into the bid to procure the government contract for a 1/4-ton, four-wheel-drive truck in early 1941. Contrary to popular legend, “GP” does not standard for “general purpose.” Rather, it is a combination of Ford code letters: “g,” indicating a government contract vehicle, and “p,” indicating an 80-inch wheelbase reconnaissance car. A total of 4,458 GP’s were built, including 50 of which were equipped with four-wheel steering. A welded slat grille that incorporates the headlights under the hood and an embossed Ford script on the left rear panel are hallmarks of the GP. Expect to pay $20,000-$30,000 for a restored, non-four-wheel-steer GP.
Willys MB “Slat Grille”
After Willys fulfilled its initial Army contract of 1,500 vehicles in 1941, it received a second order for an improved version of its 1/4-ton truck, which it called the “MB.” Early MB’s featured a grille made of welded flat bar stock. Another feature of the “Slat Grille Willys” is the embossed Willys logo in the left rear panel. Prices for a restored Slat Grille Willys run from $12,000-$17,500.
As World War II progressed, the U.S. government wanted its two jeep suppliers — Ford and Willys — to standardize production so that the parts could be used for either. The result was a jeep with a stamped grille. Ford’s version was designated as the “GPW,” and Willys’ as the “MB.” Stamped logos on the rear panels continued only through July 1942 when the government deemed it inappropriate for a manufacturer to advertise on goods produced for the military. A restored MB or GPW driver will run $11,000-$16,500.
Between 1950 and 1952, Willys produced more than 45,000 Model MC jeeps, commonly known as the “M38.” At first glance, an M38 looks like a World War II MB/GPW, but there are significant differences. An M38 is slightly larger than its World War II counterpart. The fuel filler was mounted on the outside of the body, instead of under the driver’s seat. Most obvious though, is the one-piece windshield (the World War II jeeps had two-piece windshields) and the protruding headlights, usually with a protective bar in front of each. An M38 in restored, driving condition will sell for $9,000-$15,000.
In 1952, Willys-Overland Motors began production of the Model MD or “M38A1.” Equipped with the new F-head “Hurricane” engine, the M38A1 is characterized with a hinged front grille (to facilitate engine and transmission removal), narrower front bumper and, most noticeably, curved or “round” fenders. U.S. and foreign sales accounted for more than 100,000 M38A1’s when domestic production ended in 1957. Restored, running M38A1’s command prices from $7,500-$12,000.
Between 1960 and 1988, Ford, Willys, Kaiser Jeep Corp. and AM General all produced Military Utility Tactical Trucks (MUTTs). Designated the M151 (with subsequent versions labeled “M151A1” and “M151A2”), MUTT’s can be recognized by the horizontal slat grille and unibody construction. M151’s sell for $6,500-$11,000.
Resembling a miniature jeep, the M422 was designed for the U.S. Marine Corps to fill the need of a small, lightweight, very maneuverable truck. Labeled the “Mighty-Mite,” the 1/4-ton truck came in two versions: the 65-inch wheelbase M422 and the 71-inch wheelbase M422A1. Between 1959-’62, American Motors Corp. built 3,922 Mighty-Mites. Each one featured an aluminum body and an aluminum air-cooled 108-cid V-4 engine. M422’s and variants sell for $5,000-$10,000.