BANTAM "JEEP" 1940 - 1941 / TRAILERS & MISC. 1938 - 1945
Bantam's ingenuity resulted in world's 1st "jeep"
1940 Bantam BRC pilot car and its builders.
BRC pilot car had rounded nose and front
The United States Army tested the Bantam BRC in rugged
Bantam's 1941 BRC-60 preproduction cars
had squared fenders.
Bantam's production jeep, the BRC-40,
featured a flat nose.
A military version of the Austin Seven was quite useful to the
English army, so the United States Army tested an American
Austin roadster pickup in 1932. Later, military representatives
tried American Bantam roadsters and pickups, too.
Unfortunately, the vehicles were not built for cross-country abuse.
In 1940, Bantam and United States Army officials collaborated on
specifications for an ideal military "midget car". Soon after, the
government invited 130 manufacturers to compete for rights to
build it. Only two companies voiced serious interest--
Willys-Overland and American Bantam. Rights were awarded to
Bantam, and a prototype was due in just 49 days.
Bantam delivered its first BRC (Bantam Reconnaissance Car) to
Camp Holabird, Maryland, on September 23, 1940. Men from
Willys and Ford, who were on hand to witness the torture tests,
rushed back home to develop similar prototypes. As Bantam
completed its initial order of 69 round-nosed BRC-60s, Willys and
Ford delivered their prototypes, too. All three "jeeps" displayed
individual merits and all three companies received contracts.
Bantam protested, but the deal was done.
About 2,600 orders for revised flat-nosed Bantams, called
BRC-40s, were placed before a new standardization policy was
enacted. Standardization meant that all future "jeeps" would be
Willys. However, Ford would help build them.
Bantam, which had tested the trailer market in 1938 with utility
and camper trailers created from panel truck body panels, was
awarded contracts to build small military cargo trailers. After the
war, Bantam continued large and small "Supercargo" trailer
production, but without success.
In 1956, Bantam was dissolved and its property was sold to
After losing out on the "jeep" contracts in
1941, American Bantam began building BT3
one-quarter-ton cargo trailers on its
assembly line. Larger one-ton units were
also built. After World War II, production
continued with a modified trailer that
featured a drop-down tail gate and a civilian
ball hitch. These "Supercargo" trailers
were more successful in the marketplace
than their line of full size "Supercargo"
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