Hot Rod Jeeps in Berlin, ca. 1946

After WWII, soldiers in Occupied Germany bought surplus Willys MB and Ford GPW Jeeps to modify for their own personal use.
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In 1946, soldiers in Occupied Germany had two things:
Time on their hands and the urge to hot rod their rides.

Doin' it, "Berlin-Style." Following the end of hostilities, American GIs turned to hot-rodding surplus Jeeps to pass their time. So many modified GPWs and MBs rolled the streets of the former Nazi capitol, that they took on a name of their own: "Berlin hot rods."

Doin' it, "Berlin-Style." Following the end of hostilities, American GIs turned to hot-rodding surplus Jeeps to pass their time. So many modified GPWs and MBs rolled the streets of the former Nazi capitol, that they took on a name of their own: "Berlin hot rods."

The following snapshots came from the album of an unnamed soldier who served in occupied Berlin, ca. 1946-1947. Whether documenting the many modified surplus Jeeps or just collecting ideas for his own hot rod, we don't know. No captions or details survived with the images. Regardless, he left one interesting record of how soldiers were acquiring surplus Jeeps and personalizing them.

In fact, modifying jeeps became so popular that Special Service Section of the Headquarters Command in Frankfurt sponsored a contest for modified jeeps. In addition to individual efforts, several businesses throughout England and Europe specialized in custom body work that could be bolted to jeeps to make them appear more car-like.

This modified jeep sports a custom hardtop and rear fender skirts. The jeep no longer sports its registration number on the hood, but rather, an occupation license plate attached to the grille. The jeep behind it does have a USA number on the hood and has “American Red Cross” painted on the lower windshield.

This modified jeep sports a custom hardtop and rear fender skirts. The jeep no longer sports its registration number on the hood, but rather, an occupation license plate attached to the grille. The jeep behind it does have a USA number on the hood and has “American Red Cross” painted on the lower windshield.

Unlike the hard-topped jeep pictured above, this example does appear to still be in active service. An invasion-style national symbol and the last few digits of the registration number (0600854) can be seen on the hood

Unlike the hard-topped jeep pictured above, this example does appear to still be in active service. An invasion-style national symbol and the last few digits of the registration number (0600854) can be seen on the hood 

Unlike the hard-topped jeep pictured above, this example does appear to still be in active service. An invasion-style national symbol and the last few digits of the registration number (0600854) can be seen on the hood

Unlike the hard-topped jeep pictured above, this example does appear to still be in active service. An invasion-style national symbol and the last few digits of the registration number (0600854) can be seen on the hood 

Extreme Makeover... Like any hot rodder, jeep modifiers were limited only by the parts they could find.The jeep pictured below appears to have benefited from a coach-builder’s top and fenders, not to mention the fabricated doors and body panels.

Extreme Makeover: Like any hot rodder, jeep modifiers were limited only by the parts they could find.The jeep pictured below appears to have benefited from a coach-builder’s top and fenders, not to mention the fabricated doors and body panels. 

Only the military-tread and approximate wheelbase bear any resemblance to a jeep. This snapshot was in the same group of photos of modified jeeps. Nevertheless, old car afficionados may recognize the hood and grille arrangement on this vehicle. Was it built as a jeep or was this just an auto that caught our jeep hot-rodder’s eye?

And finally, is it a Jeep? 
Only the military-tread and approximate wheelbase bear any resemblance to a jeep. This snapshot was in the same group of photos of modified jeeps. Nevertheless, old car afficionados may recognize the hood and grille arrangement on this vehicle. Was it built as a jeep or was this just an auto that caught our jeep hot-rodder’s eye?

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