The legendary military Jeep has a fascinating story to live up to its remarkable achievements. The small, lightweight military vehicle earned itself a prominent place in the fabric of American history thanks to its simple design and mule-like capabilities. The Jeep is perhaps the most iconic vehicle of the WWII era and features prominently in the American success in the war. It has become truly a part of the fabric of our history.
The origins of the Jeep go back to the late 1930’s when the US Government was beginning to sense tensions growing overseas, and felt the immediate need to update the Army’s ageing motor fleet – at the time consisting mostly of modified Model Ts and sidecar motorcycles. A guideline was announced and bidding was opened to manufacturers. One would think the manufacturers would be jumping at the opportunity but only two companies initially entered the fray – Willys Overland and American Bantam. Ford was later encouraged to join and they eventually tossed their hat in the ring as well. Through a series of tests and bids, Bantam was awarded the contract and set to work building their prototypes. Bantam committed to the Army’s stringent timeline and delivered “The Blitz Buggy” to Camp Holabird, Maryland on September 23, 1940. Unfortunately for Bantam, their financial state was less than stable, and they were unable to commit to the production volume that was requested. With Bantam’s support, Government officials forwarded the blueprints to Ford and Willys who were encouraged to show their own vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the Willys Quad and Ford Pygmy prototypes were remarkably similar and all shared many traits with the Blitz Buggy. Remarkably, all three manufacturers were given contracts to produce 1,500 vehicles each for testing – most likely due to the enormous pressure the government was feeling to get vehicles in the field.
The M38 took over where the reigns in 1949. While it might look just like the earlier Willys MB and Ford GPW Jeep, it was extensively redesigned and now built exclusively by Willys-Overland. It was still classified as a ¼ ton utility vehicle, but many improvements had been made to improve performance both on and off road. Subtle changes were made to the body design, and a new 51 horsepower four cylinder engine was fitted. The M38 was tougher and more capable than its predecessor and more than 60,000 were built to serve the world over. Many saw active duty in the Korean War. The M38 was built until 1952, when it was replaced by the “Mutt” M151.
This 1951 M38 in finished in the distinct dark green U.S. Marine Corps. It has been treated to quality but appropriate restoration, not overdone or fussy, with an emphasis on retaining the utilitarian feel. It comes equipped with a matching, period correct M100 utility trailer and as well as correct accessories such as rear mounted spare, jerry cans and military issue “pioneer tools” correctly mounted on the passenger side. Period correct markings are stenciled on the body and the whole truck has a nicely detailed but rugged feel. With any military M38 Jeep, the interior is sparse and functional – just three basic seat cushions and a tan top, all in correct spec and color canvas. The M100 trailer is restored to the same standard in matching USMC colors. It is fitted with a canvas tonneau cover and has a flip down tailgate and manual dump body. It is a great period piece that can be used to haul camping gear or just to use as a display for military shows. The four cylinder engine is clean and tidy, appropriately detailed to a functional, but high quality level. Performance is strong and this Jeep is well suited for military vehicle shows or just for bouncing around town in a unique runabout. Fun, and well-presented with just the right amount of patina, and we are confident you will be pleased with this fascinating piece of American history.