American Bantams’ 18 hour invention that became an icon of the USA
Karl Probst , an American freelance designer/engineer, created what we now call the Jeep in only 18 hours. That's all the time the Army gave him and the Bantam Car Company to come up with a vehicle that would take the place of the horse in war.
The Willys Corp. was also asked by the Army to come up with a design as was Ford, but they could not. Bantam, with Karl’s help, took existing parts off the shelf and put together in hours what we now call the Jeep. They drove the vehicle they called the “Bantam Reconnaissance Car” to the Army testing center where it passed with flying colors.
Then Bantam got screwed by the Federal Government. Bantam had a place to put together the BRC but they were deemed too small to handle the enormous quantity the government wanted. The US government handed the contract over to Willys and Ford to make all future models, the Willys model being the most iconic and well known of the three. Bantam lost control of the Jeep and in the 1950s went out of business.
Willys Overland filed for the name Jeep in 1943 and in 1945 branded the first Jeep on a vehicle. Since then the brand name Jeep has been passed through many corporations. The name “Jeep” was first thought to be coined from the original vehicle being designated GP or general purpose and the name was taken from there, but no one knows for sure.
Note: the Bantam jeep was put through the kind of testing designed to break the vehicle and it did not. American ingenuity and the Valor of soldiers who used this vehicle remain legendary.