Courtesy of John Como, Mat Curtis, Bob Dowling, Scott Johnson, Tim Ketchum, John McLeaf, Don Rollette, and Larry Tucker
In 1940 the U.S. Army commissioned those automobile companies with mass production facilities, such as Willys-Overland and Ford, to build a "universal military vehicle." At Ford the vehicle was commonly called a general-purpose vehicle, or GP for short. When spoken quickly, GP sounded like "jeep," and the name stuck. Between 1941 and 1945, Willys-Overland produced 360,000 of the model MB jeeps, out of the over 630,000 jeeps manufactured in World War II. The parts used on Ford GPWs and Willys MBs were completely interchangeable because the companies' designs were almost identical. These vehicles, recognized for their mobility, durability, and mechanical simplicity, fulfilled a host of duties including transporting military officials and carrying out reconnaissance missions.