Military Jeeps: MA, MB, and GPW
Willys Quad Original Pilot
The Willys Quad was designed by Delmar G. Roos, Willys-Overland
VP of Engineering. In 1941 the US Army contracted with Willys-Overland to build 1,500 Quads.
Also contracted were 1,500 Pygmies by Ford, and 1,500
40 BRCs by Bantam.
Soon after, the Willys prototype vehicle won the
contract and the Quad, later called the MA became the Army's standard.
The Willys Quad
became the MA. About this time the
word "Jeep" began to be used to describe Willys vehicles,
and Jeep says there are a few ideas floating around about the
origination of the term. One possibility is a slurring of the letters
"GP," the military abbreviation for "General Purpose," Another
theory was based on a character named "Eugene the Jeep" in the Popeye
1941 until mid 1945, Willys built MBs and Ford built GPWs based on the
Willys design. Willys produced the first 25,808 MBs used a "slat grill". This grill
was welded together rather than the stamped grill most people are familiar
with. Very few "slat grill" MBs remain in existence. The
drivetrain of the MA, MB, and GPW used the "Go Devil" L-head
134 I4 engine,
a T-84 3 Speed manual transmission,
a Dana 18 two
speed transfer case,
the Dana 25 front
axle, and the Dana 23-2
For 1942, Willys redesigned the MA to create the next generation MB, reducing the vehicle's weight by about 400 pounds
by removing items in order to
come closer to meeting the Army's specifications.
Willys produced 335,531
units, and they served in every theater of war, in every conceivable
role, and with every Allied army. They were also given modifications
including longer wheelbases, skis, armor plating, railway wheels, and
weapons mounts of various types. This vehicle changed the way Americans
looked at the automobile and added a new word to our vocabulary: Jeep.
Early versions had "Willys" embossed on the back panel, but the military
frowned on the free advertising and ordered the practice stopped. MB's
are plentiful, easily restored and a heck of a lot of fun. This superbly
restored 1944 MB belongs to Tony Standefer of Bothell, Washington. (Tony Standefer).
By the end of World War II, Willys built 335,531 vehicles for the US Army.
After the war Willys trademarked the name "Jeep" and set out to market
their vehicles for civilian use, leter to become the CJ (Civilian
As Ford built the last of its GP units, it landed a
contract to build jeeps to the Willys pattern. Ford designated these
vehicles GPW (Government, 80-inch wheelbase, Willys). The front cross
member is a U-channel instead of the Willys tubular unit. The letter F
(Ford) is stamped on most small components, and the rear stowage
compartment differs from the Willys. To war's end, 277,896 Ford GPWs
were built, and they're equally as popular and cherished as the Willys.
The vehicle shown belongs to John Ferrie of Fort Collins, Colorado and
is an early '42 "Script" model, meaning it has "Ford" embossed on the
rear panel. (Jim Allen)
1941 Ford GP
1941 MA - 1941-45 MB - M38 - 1963 M38A1
Extraction from the Catalog of Standard Ordnance Items, volume 1, 1st