NORMAN — Fred Hill’s old “Jeep” didn’t have that familiar name when it rolled off the assembly line in 1943.
Seventy years ago it was simply called a Quad, in reference to its four wheel drive capabilities.
“I wanted to have this Jeep restored to its original condition because of my interest in the military after spending a couple of years in the U.S. Army,” he said.
Hill is my father and was serving in Occupied West Germany when I was born in 1954. The small vehicles were made by Willys-Overland, Ford Motor Company and briefly by American Bantam Car Company. Pygmy along with several letter and numeral combinations (GWP, GP, MB, MA etc.) were all names for what eventually became known simply as the Jeep.
Originally these tough light-utility vehicles were all made under contract for the U.S. government for military use in WWII. After the war, surplus Jeeps were sold to the general public, including various other parts of the world where they had been used by our troops.
“My friend Fred Stuckey gave me the Jeep back in the ’70s,” Hill said. “He had used it on elk hunting trips in Colorado.”
The Jeep had been in disuse and stored in a rural shed for three decades. In 2012, Hill contracted with Dan McGrath of Olathe, Kan., for restoration of the Jeep to exact military specifications. The completed job is remarkable. It was the only military vehicle chosen to be a part of the highly exclusive 2013 Kansas City Art Institute’s “Art of the Car Concours.”
No expense was spared or detail overlooked to bring the old Jeep back to military-type readiness and appearance. The only modern additions were seat belts and turn signals to make it street legal.
“I wanted it to be just as it had been when it was delivered to the government in 1943,” Hill said.