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Thursday, December 10, 2015

World’s Oldest Jeep Added to National Historic Vehicle Register


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Jeep Prototype Front

The world’s oldest Jeep, which was actually a Ford, was officially added to the National Historic Vehicle Register. The Ford Pygmy GP-001 is one of three prototypes made by automakers for the U.S. Army at the start of World War II.

The Army decided that it needed a fast and lightweight reconnaissance vehicle that could handle rugged terrain. First up was the Bantam Reconnaissance Car designed by Karl Probst. The Ford Pygmy GP-001 soon folowed and was submitted for testing at the same time that Willys submitted its prototype. Ford actually sent two prototypes, but the GP-002 never made it to testing.

Jeep Prototype Engine

The Ford Pygmy prototype, along with the other prototypes, weighed more than the 1,300 pounds the Army wanted in their new vehicle. It came in at 2,150 pounds and had the least powerful engine of the prototypes at only 42 horsepower. The 2,450-pound Willys had 60 horsepower and the 1,840-pound Bantam Reconnaissance Car edged out the Ford with 45 horsepower.

According to Hemmings, the Willys MB eventually became the version of the Jeep that the Army chose and all three prototypes went back to their companies. The Bantam disappeared and was possibly wrecked or rebuilt for the Canadian military and the Willys saw the same fate. Only the Ford survived and is now officially listed on the National Historic Vehicle Register.