Engine: 4-cylinder, 45-hp
Weight: 2,100 lbs
Transmission: 4-wheel drive
Steering: 4-wheel steering
This is the original "jeep". In July, 1940, the U.S. Military requested bids from auto manufacturers to design and build a light-duty, four-wheel drive general-purpose reconnaissance car. American Bantam, best known for its diminutive cars, presented the first working prototype of what would later become universally know at the Jeep. Aware that they may not be able to meet the Military's demands for production, Bantam formed a joint manufacturing alliance with taxicab producer Checker Motors of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
This is one of two Checker-assembled prototype Bantam RBC-40 four-wheel steer vehicles produced. As World War II broke out, only Willys and Ford Motor Company were awarded contracts to build the Bantam designed Jeep. Bantam was given contracts to build a 1/4 ton trailer to be pulled behind the Jeep and went out of business after the war.