Who would want a Jeep? Predictions from 1943 and 1944

A new year and a new decade. Here at Farm Jeep we are always doing research on the Jeep and have come across a couple of interesting predictions.  While not looking much beyond the end of World War II, they make fun reading some 77 years later.

A February 14, 1943 article from the Washington Post was titled “When War Is Over, Where Will Jeep Go?  Here’s One Man With a Fair Answer”   The man was not just any jeep fan.  It was automotive engineer Delmar G. (Barney) Roos.  Roos is considered by many historians to be the “father” of the Willys military jeep, so his insights are worth consideration

Roos made two major contributions to the development of the jeep.  The first was his development of the Go-Devil 4 cylinder engine in the late 1930s.  Willys-Overland (hereafter referred to as Willys) was one of the few car makers with a 4 cylinder engine. Ford and others had gone to larger 6 and 8 cylinder engines for their cars. 

The Willys engine was plagued with service and performance issues.  Barney Roos was hired by Willys and  tasked with re-engineering the engine to produce more power and durability.  He was successful and just in time for the development of the jeep,

While there is not enough space or time here to tell the story of how Willys won the primary role to build the jeep, we will note that the Go-Devil engine was the tipping point for those making the decision about who would win the battle between Bantam, Ford and Willys.  The Roos designed engine out performed the Continental used by Bantam and the 9N tractor engine used by Ford.

Roos next feat was to trim the Willys prototype vehicle’s weight down to within the limits of the government’s specifications.  Roos and his engineering team lost pounds by shaving ounces.  They cut off bolts and even cotter pins.  Any place they could trim weight they did.  Roos even weighed a coat of paint and dropped the two-coat process.  Legend has it that the second coat would have put it over the limit.

From its introduction, people knew the jeep was a new kind of vehicle. It could go anywhere and do anything.  Although the war was far from over in 1943, the Post article was one of many looking to the future and what would become of the vehicle we now know as the Jeep.   Here are some excerpts –

“Farmers will Welcome It, City Drivers Have No Use for It, Man Who Pioneered It Contends”

Toledo, Ohio, Feb. 12. – The post-war place of the Army jeep – that small, powerful reconnaissance car of a hundred uses on the battlefield – has come in for a lot of discussion among automotive engineers and others.

You can hear anything you like about it; that it will find a broad market after the war; that it will require only slight alteration to become an ideal light-weight passenger vehicle, that it has no peace time value.

But listen to the man who knows more about the jeep than any other automotive engineer, Delmar G. (“Barney”) Roos, vice president in charge of engineering of (sic) Willys-Overland Motor, Inc. whose design for the jeep was accepted by the Army after the offerings of a dozen or more vehicle manufacturers had been considered.

Says Roo:

“It has great possibilities in agriculture where a small farm is involved, where you don’t have your money tied up in a truck and in a tractor or in a power plant.  When the war ends there will be many thousands of these jeeps that can be bought from the government at low prices by the farmers.”

“Certainly, the jeep is not going to affect the passenger car because no one wants a four-wheel drive passenger car that has big tires and is a hog on gasoline.  It would eat up tires and gasoline and would be expensive.  But it may profoundly affect the agricultural truck.”

While the rest of the article talks more about Roos’ work on improving the military version,  our interest is in his predictions.  Roo’s description of the small farm use became the post-war marketing strategy of Willys.  The returning soldier/farmer who couldn’t afford a truck and a tractor could buy a Jeep and have both.  What Roos got wrong – at least partly wrong – was that the government would dump thousands of surplus jeeps on the market and make them available to farmers.  That was exactly what Willys feared.  They wanted to sell NEW Jeeps and Willys ads showed the farmer why the surplus jeep was no match for the civilian version.  We can only imagine what the Willys marketing execs were thinking when they saw Roos’ statement.

Of more interest is his prediction that no one would want a four-wheel drive car with big tires that was also a gas hog – a near perfect description of today’s offering.  Barney would be amazed.  While there are a couple of very early ads showing the Jeep as a recreational vehicle (towing a travel trailer and  hauling fishermen to remote sites) in the early years, it would be decades before the Jeep’s primary role would move from a work vehicle to a recreational vehicle.

Dave at eWillys.com posted a 1944 opinion piece from the Christian Science Monitor that also predicts that no one will want a jeep for anything other than farm work.  “Our guess would be that before the jeep wins a lasting place in civilian life it will have to be so reformed and dressed up that a G. I. won’t re(c)ongize it.”

They got that right.

Merry Christmas

From Farm Jeep!

We hope your Jeeps are filled with wonderful surprises.

Thank you for making 2019 a great year. It started off with a new Web site – https://www.farmjeep.com/2019/02/24/new-old-farm-jeep-site/ We added new information – https://www.farmjeep.com/2019/03/20/old-stuff-new-stuff/ and, our favorite, a section of stories from our friends – https://www.farmjeep.com/family/

Finally we found a movie and were able to share it at two great shows – https://www.farmjeep.com/2019/06/05/2-great-jeep-shows-movie-screenings/ and there were more additions as the year went along. We had sightings of more Bantam plows – https://www.farmjeep.com/2019/09/19/more-bantam-plows-and-a-deepening-mystery/ and even made it on a calendar – https://www.farmjeep.com/2019/11/02/calendar-jeep/

All in all, a great year and we are looking forward to 2020!

Barry & Evan

A Conversation with Bob Westerman

The first link that appears in our Welcome page takes the reader to Bob Westerman’s article on the Willys Farm Jeep and the Jeep Tractor.  We have referenced this article multiple times, online and in our published articles.  In fact, we have used the articles at Bob’s CJ-3A Information Page as a primary resource in our research and in our Jeep projects.

We have just posted a short interview session we had with Bob. You can read it at https://www.farmjeep.com/bob-westerman/

Two early brochures – one for the farm and one for industry

J. W. Heater posted on the 2a page forum his find of two early sales brochures. These where published before the introduction of hydraulic implement lifts, so most likely from 1946. While we focus on the farm uses of the Jeep, Willys saw a similar market in industry.

See the entire farm brochure here.

You can see the industry brochure here.

Calendar Jeep!

Just for fun, we submitted a “beauty shot” taken at the Willys Jeep Rally to the Kaiser-Willys calendar contest. We were selected and are the month of April photo.

Some nice Jeeps in this calendar, including a CJ5 with a PTO parked in a hay field. You can find the calendar at https://www.kaiserwillys.com/2019-kaiser-willys-calendar-all-willys-jeep-vehicles-8167 We do wish that they published more info on the Jeeps

We are also big fans of the Holy Toledo calendar and you can find it at https://www.dispatchermagazine.com/calendars/

Can’t have too many Jeep calendars.

More Bantam Plows and a deepening mystery

This summer we have been contacted by two individuals who were researching American Bantam tags on their plows. The first is a 16″ single bottom plow that has been in the same family since it was purchased. It is located in Virginia and is still being used to plow with a tractor.

The Bantam model is an “NSGP-16.” All Bantam plows we have seen used the same model number as used by Newgren. Newgren used a 5 or 6 character model code. The first two characters indicated the manufacturer and number of mouldboards. The codes we have seen are either “NS” meaning (we assume) “Newgren Single” bottom or “ND” meaning “Newgren Double” bottom. The next two characters indicate mouldboard types: GP – General Purpose, SB – Slat Base, or F-Forgy Base. The last characters are actually digits indicate the plow size – 12, 14, or 16 inch. So we know the above plow is a Newgren made single bottom 16″ plow with a general purpose base.

Our Bantam labeled plow has the model number “NDGP-12″as expected. Our working assumption has been that Bantam simply took the current stock of Newgren plows and replaced the tag with the new Bantam tag, copying over the model and serial number. But something else may have been happening too.

The second plow is located in Ontario, Canada and is the first example of a 10″ plow – Newgren or Bantam – that we have seen. This one is also still in use behind a Ford 8n.

The “Type” or model is “NDSC10” and the serial number is 114. As stated, all examples of Bantam plows discovered thus far had used the same model designations as Newgren. We have never seen the “SC” code, nor have we seen any 10″ model plows in the Newgren literature we have collected.

Is it possible that Bantam produced a plow that was not in the Newgren line? The “SC” code and the lack of the “-” before the “10” would indicate that this was not a direct copy. Did they expand what had been the Newgren line with a new product? Did “SC” stand for a new type of base or was it an error (it appears to be a “GP” base)? This simply adds to the mystery surrounding the final years of American Bantam. Stay tuned.

UPDATE – Clint Dixon has provide the following in an exchange of emails. As always, Clint is the source of a wealth of knowledge on all things Monroe and Newgren.

Clint writes –

“Take a look at this image:

This is Lonnie’s (DeWeese) plow (tag). It is a slat base, but the slats, furrow wheel, and bottom look out of place – more like those found on the early Newgren plows or a Wiard plow. I think this particular plow was assembled from more than one plow and have even pondered the idea that this plow may have started out as a fire plow.

Then there is this image:

Notice that the serial number is the same as the serial number of Lonnie’s plow. Too bad we cannot read the model number. It does look like it ends in a “-2”. This was on a double disk plow that sold along with a dirt scoop on ebay several years ago. Or, it may have been on the Dellinger dirt scoop. The auction really did not give a clue to which piece of equipment that particular tag was on.

I know this does not help answer your question, but it may add more to the mystery. It seems that Newgren/Bantam did not always adhere to a set model numbering scheme.

As a side note, the Monroe literature for the Dodge Power-Wagon lists a 10-inch double along with a 10-inch triple and they call both “Scotch Bases”. Both were obviously de-badged Newgren plows.

Interesting finds. Thanks for sharing.”

And then Clint writes this…

“Looking at your picture of the plow in Canada, it does indeed look like a Scotch Base. Ferguson used those bases too but I believe they did not use the “Scotch” description. They are supposed to stand the turned sod on edge – not lay it completely over – so that it can better absorb rainfall.”

So, based on Clint’s information, the Canadian plow may be a re-branded Monroe plow made by Newgren. Perhaps the “SC” code stood for “SCotch base.” In any case, this is additional data for us to use as we explore the Bantam plow story.

New FAQ and Dave’s Story

An ongoing project here at Farm Jeep is spreading the word about these amazing machines. As we park our Farm Jeep at various antique farm, machinery and even Jeep shows, we try to provide a story about the vehicle and its place in agricultural history. We are adding a Frequently Asked Questions About the Farm Jeep section. It will be both a part of the information presented here and at shows in the form of printed materials. This will be an evolving document and hope to hear your feedback to make it better.

We asked Dave Eilers, founder of eWillys.com to tell his Jeep story. If you are an eWillys fan as we are, you will want to read about Dave and his adventures here.