The military Jeep is among a handful of truly iconic motor vehicles, taking its rightful place alongside machines such as the VW Beetle, the Mini, the E-Type Jaguar and the Citroën 2CV. Although always associated with the American Willys-Overland company, the Jeep was actually designed by a team working for American-Bantam. After considerable political shenanigans Bantam lost out to Willys-Overland and Ford who went on to build some 640,000 examples of what is probably the world's most recognisable vehicle.
During World War Two, the Jeep could be found wherever the Allies were fighting, and soldiers on both sides soon learned that here was a dependable, go-anywhere machine. Waterproofed Jeeps took part in the D-Day landings, fighting their way across France and into Germany and the Low Countries. In the appalling conditions of the Eastern Front, Jeeps struggled against the odds to win the admiration of the Red Army. And, in the Far East where the roads were non-existent, Jeeps were even adapted to travel on rails.
After the war was over, thousands of Jeeps were passed to the armies of the newly-liberated European nations. Others were adapted for civilian use but, gradually, the vehicles began to find their way into the hands of collectors, and by the 1970s restored military Jeeps were a common sight at classic car shows. With films such as The Longest Day, Kelly's Heroes, M-A-S-H and Band of Brothers, Hollywood has also helped to reinforce the importance of the Jeep to the Allied victory.
The Military Jeep Manual covers the story of the development and evolution of this iconic military vehicle and includes a fascinating insight into what is involved in locating, restoring and running a military Jeep 70 years after the first prototype was delivered to the US Army in July 1940.
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