Few military vehicles were better known during World War II than the Jeep, the tiny, lightweight, four-wheel-drive "general purpose" vehicle designed for the military on the eve of America's entry into the war. Willys-Overland was one of three bidders for the government contract, competing against Ford Motor Co. and Bantam Motor Co. Willys won the contract primarily on the reputation of its engines but was forced to accept some design changes based on the Ford and Bantam bids. The result was the small, lightweight ancestor of today's much larger CJ Jeeps. How the Jeep won its nickname is still something of a mystery. Some claim it was the result of the government's "GP" designation, while others argue that it was named after a popular cartoon character of its day. From 1941 through 1945 Willys produced 370,000 Jeeps and Ford produced 500,000.

THE SPECS

Price: Not sold to the public

Engine: 134-cubic-inch, in-line four-cylinder

Horsepower: 60

Wheelbase: 80 inches

Weight: 2,453 pounds

Seating capacity: 4

HISTORICAL FACTS

Year: 1943

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Median family income: $2,378

Dow Jones industrial average (year-end): 136.20

Academy Award movie: "Casablanca"

Milestone: American Broadcasting Co. created.