Military jeeps have nuances that will make one olive drab four-wheel-drive "truck" worth tens of thousands while another old Army jeep may only be worth a couple. Do you know which is which?
Bantam MK II (BRC-60)
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 $60,000+.
A little more than a year before the US entered WWII, Willys delivered a small, four-wheel drive prototype to the US Army in November 1940. Called the "Quad," a Willys "Go-Devil" engine powered the small vehicle. Delmar "Barney" Roos developed the engine that featured 60 horsepower and 105 foot-pounds of torque. Not only did the engine exceed the Army's requirement, it was much stronger than the engines of other competitors for the contract: Bantam's producing 83 foot-pounds of torque and Ford's spinning out 85. When Willys won the contract, it improved on the Quad to produce more than 1,500 units of the Willys MA model.
The MA was Willys followup to the company's initial prototype of 1940 — The Quad. The MA featured a flat hood, full-length front fenders with headlights mounted, and a column-shift transmission. Willys built 1,553 MAs from June 5, 1941, through September 23, 1941. MAs are very rare in the United States. Even outside the country, a restored MA is an "over-$60,000" purchase.
Ford's entry into the Army's reconnaissance car competition was the Ford GP-No. 1 "Pygmy." Whereas the Pygmy introduced many features that would be later incorporated into production Jeeps, its modified tractor engine was no competition to the Willys "Go-Devil" engine installed in the Willys Quad.
Ford constructed a second prototype using a body supplied by Philadelphia's Budd Company. The Army did not test the second vehicle.
Because of the extreme rarity of these two, no value can be assigned. They are truly, "national treasures."
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 $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 $15,000-$22,500.
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 $15,000-$20,500.
At the request of the Quartermaster Corps, Ford worked with the National Defense Research Council to develop an amphibious 1/4-ton truck. The GPA shares the same type engine, transmission, transfer case, and axles with its land-locked sibling, the GPW. Ford built 12,778s GPAs by the end of its contract in 1943. Today, amphibious vehicles are in high demand. A GPA in #1 condition can sell for more than $150,000.
In the early years (1946 - 1956) only original WWII jeeps passed through the Etablissement de Réserve Générale du Matériel Automobile (E.R.G.M.) at La Maltournée. Jeeps that required only minor repairs or modifications retained their original MB or GPW chassis identity.
Badly damaged or scrapped jeeps were completely stripped down to component parts. These parts were reconditioned and reassembled on a production line. These jeeps were given a new "Inspection Technique du Material" (ITM) chassis number and build date.
In the early 1950s, Hotchkiss started making spare parts for Willys jeeps under license in France. In 1955, 465 new Jeeps were produced. These were called Hotchkiss License MBs. From 1956, the vehicle was known simply as the Hotchkiss M201. Until 1960, these were all 6-volt models.
Very little changed on these jeeps during its forty+ years of service. It was as late as 2000 before the last M201 was taken out of French active service.
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 $14,500-$19,500.
In February 1950, the Department of the Navy contracted with Willys-Overland to build 1,000 CJ-V35/U quarter-ton trucks that it intended to be used by the Marines as communication vehicles. The CJ-V35/U looks a lot like a civilian CJ-3A. Differences, however, include the unique headlight bezel combat rims, and a 12-volt auxiliary generator mounted between the front seats to power radio equipment. Instead of a back seat, the CJ-V35/U has a radio cabinet. The electrical system was waterproofed and the Jeep came with provisions for deep-water fording. A fully restored example with all the accessories will sell for at least $22,000.
Willys / Kaiser Jeep CJ-3B and M606
While the US military did buy some CJ-3Bs, "M606" may simply have been a Kaiser Jeep designation for a CJ militarized for foreign sale, as opposed to a design created to U.S. military specs.
The M606 designation applies to units built in the 1960s for the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). Essentially, the the M606 was a CJ-3B straight off the assembly line, even within the same serial number range. The military version featured larger tires and springs. Other unique features included a pintle and bumperettes on the rear and a black-out lamp on the front left fender. It also had a specific windshield not used on civilian models.
Interestingly, the M606 was built a 6-volt electrical system rather than the standard military 24-volt system. An F-Head, 4-cylinder Hurricane engine powered the M606 accounting for the the “high hood.”
After Willys introduced the CJ-3B in January 1953, production of M606s followed, running into the mid-1960s. Relatively few M606s went to the U.S. military, however. Most were exported.
While scarce, restored examples are affordable, selling from $13,000-$20,000.
Willys M38A1 Series
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 $12,500-18,000.
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. Parade-ready M151s usually sell for $13,500-$20,500.
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. Parade-ready M422s and variants sell for $13,500-$19,500.
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