Bantam Jeep Prototype, 1940

Bantam Jeep Prototype, 1940

Usage conditions apply
In 1940, the American Bantam Car Company of Butler, Pennsylvania constructed 62 quarter-ton, four-wheel-drive trucks. This is one of the prototypes of the famous army vehicle known as the Jeep. During World War II, when the army was looking for a vehicle to replace the motorcycle as a mechanized form of transportation, it came up with the Jeep. Willys-Overland Motors, the Ford Motor Company, and the Bantam firm produced jeeps in large numbers. According to one newspaper account, about 660,000 were made. Jeeps were incredibly important to the war effort and became for many a symbol of American ingenuity. The museum's Bantam, bearing serial number 1007, was number 7 of the 62. It was delivered to the Army on November 29, 1940, and transferred to the museum in 1944.
Currently on loan
Object Name
Automobile, 1/4 Ton, 1940
truck, Bantam
Other Terms
Automobile, 1/4 Ton, 1940; Road; Automobile
date made
American Bantam Car Company
place made
United States: Pennsylvania
overall: 128 in x 63 in x 59 in; 325.12 cm x 160.02 cm x 149.86 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
United States War Department
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I've done a little reading about Bantam's development of the Jeep. What I've read is that the contract for the Jeep developed by Bantam was given to Ford and Willys. Bantam was judged not large enough to build jeeps in the quantity needed. Bantam was given the contract for Jeep trailers as a consolation prize. If this is generally correct, I'm surprised Bantam wasn't entitled to royalties for every jeep built by Ford and Willys. I have never heard that Bantam was involved in building Jeeps in large numbers.
This is amazing information about the Jeep, that I never knew! I've been a Jeep enthusiast my whole life. I just purchased a 2020 Gladiator and was looking for military-style decals, and came across this fact. I live in Tunkhannock, PA, and was surprised to find that PA was the birthplace of the Jeep! THANKS!!!

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