The military vehicle designed for light personnel transport use in World War II was originally referred to as a general purpose vehicle, or "G.P.," and it became known to combat soldiers as a "jeep." These vehicles are now found around the world in the modern form purchased by consumers and have been called "the crown jewels of the SUV market." The first combat-ready prototypes were produced by the Bantam Car Company in Pennsylvania, with deliveries to the military beginning in November 1941.
The original military bidding for the vehicle now known commercially as the Jeep began in 1940 with 134 manufacturers involved. According to author and automotive historian Patrick Foster, the final long-term contract was eventually given to Willys-Overland of Toledo, Ohio, after the company modified the original Bantam design and lowered the price per unit to $748.74.