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Planning and Building the First Jeep

The Army had taken valuable lessons from the more than two decades of trial and error in their pursuit to create a lightweight, quick, military vehicle. These lessons led to the Army drafting a set of minimum specifications for this new vehicle, which were sent out to more than 130 vehicle producers. These specifications were as follows:

1. A driving front axle with 2-speed transfer case including provisions for
disengaging the front axle drive.
2. A body of rectangular design with a folding windshield and 3 bucket seats.
3. Increased engine power (presumably in respect to the Belly-flopper prototype).
4. Means for towing.
5. 30-caliber machine gun mount.
6. Blackout lighting.
7. Oil-bath air cleaner.
8. Hydraulic brakes.
9. Full floating axles.
10. Wheelbase of 80".
11. Maximum height of 40".
12. Maximum weight of 1275 lbs.
13. Approach and departure angles of 45 and 40 degrees, respectively.
14. Must reach 50 mph on hard surface.
15. Special bracing for a pintle hook setup.
16. No aluminum to be used for cylinder head.
17. At least 4 cylinders.
18. 8 of the 70 vehicles made had to be four-wheel-steer.

These specifications returned two bids, one from Willys-Overland and one from Butler, PA. based American Bantam Company, returned to the Army on July 22, 1940. Ford would soon follow with their own version of the vehicle (ASME, 1-2).

The first vehicle produced by Bantam would later come to be known as the "blitz buggy." The first official "Jeep" was was slightly less powerful than the 85 ft/lb of torque requirement given by the Army.