American Bantam Car Company BRC-40 Assembly Line, Butler, PA, 1941.
The success of the Army trials with the American Bantam Car Company BRC-60 prototype jeep led to approval of a 1,500 unit order from Bantam, subject to some improvements in the design. The Bantam BRC-40 (where BRC means Bantam Reconnaissance Car) with squared fenders, headlights partly recessed in the fender and a flat grill, was the result of that redesign.
In 1941, Bantam entered into an agreement with Checker Car Company (maker of the famous Checker Cabs) to build BRC-40 jeeps. This may have been done in an effort to convince the Army that there was no issue regarding Bantam's production capacity, but little is known of the details of the arrangement. A few Checker-built prototype vehicles were delivered to the Army. Photographs have survived as well as one of the jeeps which resides in the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI.
The BRC-40 met all the Army requirements and was well liked. Additional BRC-40 vehicles were ordered for Lend Lease shipments to Allied nations for an eventual total of 2,642 BRC-40s produced by Bantam. But the Army didn't want to bet on tiny American Bantam to supply the potential huge production requirements that would soon be required for World War II. After a series of political maneuvers and trials involving the designs from Bantam, Ford, and Willys Overland, the contract was awarded to Willys to build a vehicle remarkably like Bantam's design. American Bantam never again built jeeps but was given a contract for trailers as a consolation prize.
One of the original BRC-40s manufactured in 1941 can be seen at the Butler County Historical Society Museum in Butler, PA, site of the American Bantam factory.
Continental Motor Co. BY4112 4 cal 112cid 45bhp @ 3,500 rpm
3 speed synchromesh Warner Gear T84
Spicer Dana 18 two speed
Spicer Dana 4.88:1 23-2 rear, Dana 25 front
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