In the early 50’s the US military decided they needed a vehicle to replace their ageing lightweight trucks, the current M38 and larger M38A1 Jeeps that were serving in the Korean War and had had their day and were proving to be too slow and ineffective in some situations.
Ford Motor Company won the military contract in 1951 to build a replacement working with the guidance of US Army’s Ordnance Truck Automotive Command. Between them they engineered the M151 Mutt with a “horizontal bar grill” and after nearly a decade of extensive testing finally went into production in 1959, lasting until 1982. Serving in the later Vietnam War, the Mutt proved itself to be a worthy tool in the jungles theatre of battle.
Weighing in at a quarter of a ton the 4wd Mutt had a monocoque design meaning integrated box frame rails were built into the sheet-steel body-structure.
By eliminating the separate frame chassis, the M151 had more ground clearance, while at the same time lowering the centre of gravity. This made the vehicle a roomier passenger truck, better for side angled terrain crossings and in theory, more stable for cornering, whilst still remaining a lightweight unit.
The new all in one monocoque chassis meant independent suspension with coils could be used to improve the comfort of the ride and manoeuvrability, giving it higher off road speeds. Unfortunately the M151’s agility with it’s 2L engine delivering 71bhp and 128ft-lbs of torque outwitted many a grunt driver, whom were previously used to the slower and more cumbersome jeep.
Gaining a reputation for turning over on a fast corner the model was upgraded in the 1970’s with redesigned rear suspension and released as the M151A2, the M151’s were retro fitted with roll cages to protect all the passengers although most now carried an ammunition box full of sand under the rear seats to weigh the truck down. The little truck took on various guises to suit specific needs during its service, including light armour panels as shown, to protect from small arms fire.
Classed as a ¼ ton / personnel transport truck, the Mutt served for 15 different NATO countries, spreading worldwide to over 100 countries.
The Mutt last saw in service during 1999, in the Kosovo conflict, used as a Fast Attack Vehicle (FAV) it become the longest serving US military vehicle to date, beating the WW2 MB/GPW, M38 and M38A1 series combined.
The truck was finally phased out in favour of the Humvee as air transport weights increased and the need for better protection to drivers, passengers and equipment.
By the mid 1990’s the US Government began selling the surplus Mutts via Foreign Military Sales, those not shipped abroad were cut in to half or even quarters to be disposed of, some have been resurrected and simply welded back together to full working order. The term cut and shut springs to mind !
They are still out there to be found if you want one, it is a shame however that the little Ford never really got the recognition it deserved in the military 4×4 classics world such as the likes of the Willys and the Series 1 Land Rover.