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Ford GP Army Jeep

The Ford GP Army jeep originated many of the design features that became part of the standard World War II Army jeep. As one of the largest manufacturers of motor vehicles in the U.S., Ford was eager to play a major role in production of the Army's new jeep vehicle. The full story of the development of the original Army Jeep of World War II is on the linked page.

Ford GP in the infrared paint booth after assembly, Ford River Rouge plant, May 1941
Ford GP in the infrared paint booth after assembly, Ford River Rouge plant, May 1941.

Today in WW II: 24 Apr 1945 Retreating German troops in Italy destroy all the bridges over the Adige in Verona, including the historical Ponte di Castelvecchio and Ponte Pietra.   

Ford GP Prototype Jeep

Ford GP production at the Ford River Rouge plant, May 1941.   After the motor has been placed in the chassis and its connections made, the body is lowered into plane.
Ford GP production at the Ford River Rouge plant, May 1941. After the motor has been placed in the chassis and its connections made, the body is lowered into plane.

Ford's pilot jeep, the Ford Pygmy, was overweight, underpowered and had other deficiencies compared to the Bantam and Willys Quad competitors. After Army testing, Ford was approved for a 1,500 unit contract, subject to changes and improvements. Ford's redesign of the Pygmy created the Ford GP.

The Ford Model number was "GP" reflecting established Ford production coding: G for government, and P for the 80-inch-wheelbase of the vehicle. GP did not mean "General Purpose" as is sometimes claimed.

The Ford GP retained the desirable features of the Ford Pygmy pilot model, with further improvements based on Army testing and what was learned from the Willys and Bantam pilots. Ford went into production for the GP in February 1941 and, after contract extensions, completed most deliveries of about 4,500 Ford GPs by November 1941. Fifty Ford GPs were ordered with four wheel steering, an experiment that was cancelled by the Army. Most of the Ford GPs were eventually sent to England, Russia and other Allies under Lend-Lease.

The Ford GP remained underpowered and its gearbox was not optimum for the required performance. The Willys MA was eventually chosen as the basis for the mass production World War II jeep, but many features of the Ford GP found their way into the final design of the Willys MB.

Additional photos of the Ford GP are found in the Military Jeeps section of the Military Vehicle Charts.

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the Ford GP at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup:

Ford GP prototype jeep, circa 1941.
Soldiers of headquarters company of the Armored Corps lifting a Ford GP prototype jeep to repair it at their bivouac area near Manchester, TN, during Second Army maneuvers, June 1941. Left to right: Private William Lowe, Captain Frank Yung, Private Sam Salen, and Private J.J. Nay
At the Ford River Rouge plant near Detroit, a jeep body, after being lowered, is securely fastened to the chassis and the headlights adjusted on a Ford GP prototype jeep, May 1941. About 4,500 Ford GPs were made before this model was combined with the Willys MA prototype to become the standard WW II jeep, the nearly identical Willys MB or Ford GPW.
Ford GP prototype jeep, with four wheel steering, Camp Robinson, AR, 1 November 1941.  Hood number W-234099.
The first Ford GP prototype jeep delivered to the US Army drives off the assembly line at the Ford River Rouge factory, driven by Edsel Ford with Charles Hartwell Bonesteel, Jr., Commander, VI Corps Area, as passenger, 28 February 1941. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co. archives.
Ford GP quarter-ton truck was tested informally at Fort Riley, KS to determine if this vehicle could be used as a liaison car for artillery with cavalry; as a prime mover for the 37-mm. antitank gun; and as a mount for the .50 caliber machine gun.  Reported in Field Artillery Magazine, June 1941.

Ford GP Specifications

Engine119.5 CID, 4 cal, side valve 46 bhp @ 3,600rpm (Fordson Model N tractor engine)
Torque84 lbs-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission3 speed Model A
Transfer caseSpicer 2 speed (same as Bantam)
Gear ShiftFloor mounted
AxlesSpicer Dana 4.88:1 23-2 rear, Dana 25 front (same as Bantam)
Wheelbase80 inches
Weight2,160 lbs.

Recommended Books With More About the Ford GP

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: ford gp. Then click the Search button.

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