Historians are rejoicing as some much needed attention is going to a 75-year-old Jeep. This Jeep was a vital part of the Army, and the grandfather to current Jeeps and SUVs. Transportation curator at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Matt Anderson states that “it’s very rare to be able to trace a whole class of vehicles to a single one, but this is where it all began.”
It was originally called the “Pygmy” and was a prototype built by Ford in Detroit. The name ‘Jeep’ may have come from the designation of GP. This particular jeep is GP-No.1, perhaps the only prototype to still exist in the United States, originally made as a test vehicle for the army.
The Pygmy Army Jeep had features similar to today’s Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand. It has an upright grille with vertical slots and is a light four-wheel-drive vehicle. It became an icon of World War II, and remained in military service for decades.
The GP-No. 1 was at the Henry Ford Museum, but was auctioned off in 1982. History buff Randy Withrow of Huntsville, Alabama excitedly bought the vehicle. It is now on display in Huntsville at the Veteran’s Memorial Museum. The Historic Vehicle Association just finished verifying its history, and this rare Army Jeep truly is one of the original five vehicles tested.