Britain's Previews New WWII US Willy's Jeep
The original Jeep vehicle was born of necessity and hand-built in just seven weeks with lots of hard work and genius.
Since at least as early as World War I, the U.S. Army had been looking for a fast, lightweight all-terrain reconnaissance vehicle. In early 1940, however, things became urgent as the Axis powers began to score victories in Europe and Northern Africa and the need to rapidly develop this vehicle became more urgent. The Army put out a call to automobile manufacturers asking for a running prototype for such a vehicle in just 49 days.
The original government specifications were as follows:
- Vehicle weight: approximately 1,300 pounds (This proved to be totally unrealistic and later was raised to 2,160 pounds.)
- Four-wheel drive
- Engine (power): 85 pound-feet of torque
- Wheelbase: Not more than 80 inches
- Tread: Not more than 47 inches
- Ground Clearance: Minimum ground clearance of 6.25 inches
- Payload: 600 pounds
- Cooling System: Good enough to allow a sustained low speed without overheating the engine