The GP was Ford's design for the 1941 U.S. Army order for 1,500 Reconnaissance Car prototype jeeps, following the Ford Pygmy pilot model of 1940. GP was Ford's production code for the vehicle: "G" for U.S. Government contract production and "P" for 80 in. wheelbase. "GP" does not stand for "General Purpose" as is sometimes claimed.
Many of the now-familiar body features of the military jeep were originated by Ford, such as the squared-off front end with a flat grill, and the headlights recessed in the grill. Ford did not win the Army mass-production contract award, which went to Willys-Overland, but Ford did produce the Ford GPW as a second source manufacturer of the Willys design.