With World War II on the horizon the US military needed a new all terrain vehicle that would allow combat units to operate off-road, in differing climates and soil conditions. In 1939 the Army invited 135 different car companies to compete for a contract to build a new vehicle for the military. The vehicle had to meet certain specs, such as a payload capacity of 600lbs, a wheelbase fewer than 75 inches, a fold-down windshield, a gross vehicle weight of fewer than 1200lbs, and it must be four-wheel drive. Only three companies responded Bantam, Willy-Overland, and Ford.
Bantam enlisted the help of Karl Probst, and in 1940 was the first to produce a working prototype for the military, He called it the Bantam Blitzbuggy and “Old Number One”. Willy’s-Overland and Ford followed with their own prototypes, the Willys Quad and the Ford Pygmy. These were basically copies of the Bantam car. Willys eventually won the contract because of their 60hp “Go-Devil” engine. Because of the large demand created by WWII Ford was given a contract. Willys later renamed their jeeps the MA and the MB, while Ford called theirs the GP and GPW.