If you’re into Jeeps or Military history then the Ford Pygmy will be on your radar and thanks to the U.S Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, America you can see it, yes the original and thanks to Bantam dismantling their Reconnaissance Car (BRC) the Pygmy is the oldest Jeep in existence.
This Pygmy G.P No.1 (Government Passenger) was Fords answer to the military request for off road vehicles needed for WWII, built under time restrictions it was forged from a mix of Fords agricultural and commercial vehicles. A 46 HP, 119 cubic inch engine was taken from the 9N tractor adjusting the carburettor and air filter to fit the smaller frame, tyres were sourced the same way. Suspension was a rudimentary leaf spring system with rotary dampers for shocks providing very little cushion and the remainder was hand pummelled to suit; these hammer marks are still evident today. Competing against the Willys Quad and Bantam BRC, this vehicle appeared for testing at Camp Holabird, Maryland on the 23, November 1940 where it unfortunately failed to impress because it was over weight and over priced not to mention Henry Fords Nazi sympathetic political views of the day.
In 1941 Bantam won the vote but due to the quantity demanded the contract was eventually split between all three manufacturers, Willys, Bantam and Ford using the Bantam design. Ford did manage to change the design insisting the flattened bonnet and grill were more economical to produce.
In December 1948 the Pygmy was moved to the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, its museum documents record it as 1941, Original No, 1 Model GP. Due to the stamps GP-NO 1 on the grill, frame and engine, because it was never produced Ford never gave it much credence. Forty odd years later in 1985 the museum had a house clearing exercise to whittle down its collection, still not recognising the providence of the Pygmy it was put up for auction. Fortunately Randy Withrow owner of the U.S Veterans Memorial Museum was in the market for a GP vehicle and successfully placed his bid, when he paid for is lot he was given the Michigan title (Log Book) showing the production date as 1940 VIN No. 1. He had purchased not just a GP vehicle but the one and only original GP and the only original Jeep remaining, which he proudly displays for all to enjoy in his U.S Veterans Memorial Museum. The Pygmy is kept in running order and maintained as a labour of love by volunteers that work at the museum so if your in America for your holidays try to get to Huntsville, Alabama and visit the Pygmy.
For the home of this Jeep, click here