- Written by webmin
With Chrysler celebrating the 70th anniversary of Jeep this year, it’s worth pointing out that, according to many Jeep historians, they’re actually a year too late.
Chalk it up to corporate pride. After all, the Jeep brand as it exists today traces its origins to the wartime Willys MA and MB, both highly successful quarter-ton reconnaissance vehicles that evolved into the iconic CJ series of Jeeps after the war. Yet the Willys Jeep origins go back even further, to the Willys Quad prototype, delivered for testing in November 1940, more than a month after Bantam delivered its Bantam Reconnaissance Car for testing. Of course, the contract for jeep production would ultimately go to Willys (and Ford), and history is written by the victors, which is why Chrysler today pegs the jeep’s birth year as 1941 rather than 1940.
One event designed to direct some attention toward Bantam’s role in the origin of the jeep (and of the Jeep) will take place later this year in Butler, Pennsylvania, the home of the Bantam BRC. The inaugural Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival will take place August 12-14 in downtown Butler and at the Butler County Fairgrounds. The event will include a parade and cruise-in open to all Jeeps, a World War II military encampment, Jeep historical exhibits, nearby trail rides and a Jeep playground at the fairgrounds with three 1/2- to 3/4-mile-long trails.
Among the Bantam BRCs scheduled to attend the event will be George and Bernadette Hollins’s BRC #2271, originally shipped to the British Eighth Army in 1941 and used in North Africa and Italy before being shipped back to England, being regarded as junk in Scotland for 20 years, then treated to a 20-year-long restoration. From the British Isles, it then went to a collector in Belgium before finally returning to the United States last year.
For more information about the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, visit BantamJeepFestival.com.