ATV’s or quad bikes are a common thing in the off road world today, but did you know that the original design and patent was down to the Standard Motor Co based in Coventry in UK during 1944?
Called the J.A.B (Jungle Airborne Buggy) and later affectionately known as the “Junglebug”, the design came from a request by the British Army requiring a 4×4 vehicle for operations in the jungle, at that time for fighting the Japanese in the far east in places such as Burma and Malaysia. The vehicle had to be lightweight so as to be deployed into the combat zone by parachute.
Other required specifications for the Junglebug was the ability to carry four adults, tow a trailer with room for soldiers kit and be able to cross rivers reliably. The river fording was achieved by partially stripping and loading it into it’s own trailer that was assisted with buoyancy from empty jerry cans. Four adults must also be able carry the complete vehicle without too much of a problem.
The J.A.B was constructed from a light tubular frame with a 1021 cc, 4-cylinder, side-valve engine giving just over 30mph fully loaded, this was recorded from the MK3 variant. Suspension was an ingenious independent design at the front and semi-elliptic at the rear. All four wheels had cable-operated brakes operated by a foot pedal. The throttle was a duel control operation, one by a foot operated rocker and two a motorcycle style twist grip, the twist grip gave better control over rougher terrain. The wheels and tyres were aero items from the Spitfire parts stock, with tyres re-cut to give them the tread required.
In 1945 as we all know, the war ended so military orders suddenly evaporated. The automaker then decided to look at the civilian market for sales of the revolutionary ATV and developed a wooden body surround, revising steering and seating positions with a rear cargo load bed. The vehicle was re named the Farmers General Purpose Vehicle and a guide price was set for £140.
For reasons unknown they never went into production, if they had then the Standard Motor Company may have lasted much longer with this revolutionary vehicle that was well ahead of its time.
The agricultural market was desperately waiting for a 4×4 breakthrough which came form of the many surplus Willys Jeeps that were then readily available at the end of the war, but without doubt the Junglebug could have taken a good section of that market as history has shown the quad is a multi million pound segment.
Unfortunately there were only six variant prototypes ever made, a 4×2 (MK1), two 4×4’s (MK2 & MK3) and the Farmers G.P.
The only known survivor with it’s trailer is in the historic vehicles collection at the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (SEME) at Bordon Hampshire.