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Willys Overland and the Bantam

When World War Two started and the German Panzers started rolling into Poland President Roosevelt made an emergency proclamation on September 8, 1939. He authorized an increase in the Army and National Guard. In addition, the USA had 12 million dollars to spend on transportation. Soon thereafter there was a total of 2 billion dollars allocated. Due to Germany�s fast movement into France, Holland and Poland, the USA decided they needed to build a light weight vehicle that could easily carry men and equipment through all types of rough terrain. The US Army Quartermaster Corps extended an open invitation to manufacturers to put together a prototype vehicle that could accomplish this.

At the start only two companies showed an interest in taking on this project. They were American Bantam and Willy�s Overland. Ironically, they were both having economic problems. Willys Overland presented the Willys Quad and Bantam showcased the Bantam Reconnaissance Car or also knows as the (BRC). Because of the seriousness of the war, each company was given less than three months to take their concept to prototype.

The Willys vehicle did not make the deadline therefore Bantam received a contract for 70 vehicles after heavy testing was done on the prototype.

After vigorous testing on the prototypes over a 30 day period at Camp Holabird, the Bantam Model 60 did very well and only needed minor repairs that were easily fixed.

As mentioned, the Willys Overland initially lost to Bantam for the initial contract, they were still anxious to be involved in the development of a vehicle due to the major financial strains they were under. Willys Overland built a prototype at their expense. It was the 4x4 Quad powered by a 2199cc side valve four cylinder engine pumping out 65 base horse power. For the most part the Quad was similar to the Bantam, with the exception of a more boxy appearance.

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