Check out the picture of this Bantam Jeep that we took during a photo shoot near Tampa Florida this week.
History on the Bantam
When it became obvious that the United States was eventually going to become involved in the war raging in Europe, the U.S. Army contacted 135 companies asking for working prototypes of a four-wheel-drive reconnaissance car. Only two companies responded to the request, The American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland. The Army had set what seemed like an impossible deadline of 49 days to supply a working prototype. Willys asked for more time but were refused. The bankrupt American Bantam Car Company had no engineering staff left on the payroll and brought in Karl Probst, a talented freelance designer from Detroit. After turning down an initial request from Bantam, Probst accepted the job after being asked again by the Army, and initially working without salary, went to work July 17, 1940.
Probst completely laid out plans for the Bantam prototype, known as the BRC or Bantam Reconnaissane Car, in two days, and the next day estimated the total cost of the vehicle. On July 22, Bantam’s bid was submitted, complete with blueprints. Much of the vehicle had to be assembled from existing off-the-shelf automotive parts, and the custom four-wheel drivetrain components were supplied by Spicer. The hand-built prototype was completed in Butler, Pennsylvania, and driven to Camp Holabird, Maryland, for testing by the Army on 21 September 1940. The vehicle met the Army’s criteria, but its engine did not meet the Army’s torque requirements.