|Ford 4 cylinder L-head, 134.2 cubic inch, 6.48:1 compression
|54 @ 4,000 RPM
|Top Up: 69.75 inches, Top Down: 52 inches
|1 + 4 passengers
|Dana Spicer 18 2 speed
|21 inches max.
|Estrella Warbird Museum
This jeep resulted from a design competition that involved American Bantam, Willys-Overland, and Ford. Willys was chosen for the first mass production contract based on the Willys MA design, but the Willys MB which followed incorporated superior features from the Bantam BRC-40 and the Ford GP in addition the the Willys MA. When the War Department realized that hundreds of thousands of jeeps would be needed for World War II requirements, Ford was given a contract to produce the Willys MB design. Ford produced jeeps were designated GPW.
At the outset, all engines were produced by Willys but in 1942 Ford began to produce GPW engines to the Willys design. Midland Steel Corp. produced frames to the Willys specification and were used by both Willys and For. Ford contracted with Murray Corp. for frames for the GPW after which Ford no longer used the Midland frames. During 1941 to 1943 Willys and Ford manufactured their own bodies, slightly different from each other. In early 1944, both Willys and Ford subcontracted their jeep bodies to American Central Body of Connersville, IN, who built the so-called "composite body" used by both manufacturers.
After about 25,000 units were produced, in early 1942 the MB/GPW was standardized with changes agreed upon by Ford, Willys and the Army. The 1941 and early 1942 production jeeps have many small differences from the later, full production models. The most visible change was the Ford nine-slot stamped grill which replaced the Willys slat grill (similar to the Ford GP) in March-April 1942.
Ford's River Rouge plant produced the first 77 GPW's with Willys engines and Midland frames in January 1942. Willys jeeps were produced in their Toledo, OH plant, while Ford had assembly operations at six plants around the country. Although small differences remained, the MB and GPW essentially met the Army's goal of being completely interchangeable in all parts. At the factories, there were Ford GPW's produced on Willys Midland frames or with Willys engines, plus other production expedients and subcontractor sharing, creating a mix of jeeps and parts to be sorted out by later generations.
During the course of the war, Ford built 277,896 GPW jeeps, and Willys built 335,531 units. Production contracts were terminated in the summer of 1945 as World War II ended. The last Ford GPW was built on 30 July 1945 and the last Willys MB rolled off the Toledo assembly line on 20 August 1945.