In June 1940, with World War II on the horizon, the U.S. Army solicited bids from 135 automakers for a 1/4 ton “light reconnaissance vehicle” tailored to Army specifications that could replace both the horse and the motorcycle as a general-purpose transportation device.
General George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff during World War II, and later U.S. Secretary of State, described the Jeep Brand 4×4 as “America’s greatest contribution to modern warfare”.
Making Jeeps For the Civilians
Soon Willys converted its military Jeep — known as the MB — into the CJ-2A. “CJ” stood for “Civilian Jeep.” According to Willys-Overland, there were 5.5 million farmers in the U.S., and of these, more than 4 million had neither a truck nor a tractor.
They saw a need and filled it with the versatile CJ-2A, marketed as “The All-Around Farm Work-Horse” that could do the job of two heavy draft horses, operating at a speed of four miles per hour, 10 hours a day, without overheating the engine.