When the US Government needed a replacement for the
then traditional motorcycle with sidecar arrangement (with
some old Ford Model T's also still in service!), the GP
was designed - and would later be named the Jeep.
believe the GP represented General Purpose, however the
G actually stood for Government, while the P indicated
an 80 inch wheelbase.
Designed from day one to be a military vehicle, the motor
needed to be able to run at 4000RPM for over 100 hours
without break (to ensure durability in combat conditions),
while the whole vehicle needed to be easily serviced and
Obvious design features were easily accessible oil and
air filters, but other unique features included the headlights
ability to rotate 180 degrees so that the engine bay could
be illuminated for night time repairs.
The Jeep was also - for the day - very capable off
road, being able to traverse 50 degree inclines to
the left or right, while able to climb a 40 degree
slope. It is no wonder that the US Army's official
title for the vehicle was "Truck, Quarter-Ton, Four by Four and Command
Such was the success of the vehicle during the war that
production was increased to the point that over 40 were
being manufactured each hour.
The vehicle so endeared it'self to the army and servicemen
alike that Willys was forced to create civillian models
after the war to help quench the public's apetite for
Willys continued production of the Jeep until 1970, although
from 1955 they were part of the Kaiser corporation. In
1970 the line was sold to American Motors, which in turn
passed to Chrysler in 1987 and they remain the current