Littleton Coin Company

A Legacy of Strength and Steel

Rolled out on July 15, 1941, the Jeep® brand is celebrating over 80 years at the top of its game as the powerhouse of the adventurous and risk-takers alike! But that wasn’t always the case, in its early years, these all-terrain vehicles had an important role to play serving overseas.

Ride along with us in our new Colorized Jeep Note series and learn all about the vehicle that would become an American Legend. Designs in this 12-piece, $2 note series, will celebrate the introduction of the Willys Jeep with Reconnaissance, Deployment, Camaraderie, and many other iconic moments shared by “the vehicle that won the war.”

Humble Beginnings

As the prospect of World War II loomed on the horizon, the United States Army began to prepare for the fight ahead. A call was put out to auto manufacturers for a “general purpose vehicle that was small, lightweight, had four-wheel drive for cross-country travel, and capable of carrying a light machine gun”. This would be no easy feat to achieve.

Jeep Ad - Littleton Coin Blog

The U.S. Army put out bids to over 130 manufacturers across the country in hopes of finding the perfect vehicle to carry its troops not only across enemy lines but also safely home again.

Three manufacturers rose to the occasion: American Bantam Car Company, Willys-Overland Motors and Ford Motor Company.

Collectively the three companies designed, and delivered, the prototype in less than three months on Armistice Day 1940. 

The Call to Action

After months of testing and improvements needing to be made, the Willys MA was ready in July of 1941 for the call of duty. The Army contracted Willys-Overland to produce 16,000 of the revamped Willys MB by January of 1942. The modifications used on the MB can still be found on Jeep vehicles being produced today.

While initially contracted with Willys-Overland, the Army also contracted with Ford Motor Company in October of 1941 to support the increase of soldiers joining the ranks. Throughout the course of the war, over 639,000 4×4 vehicles were produced and supplied to soldiers overseas.

However, before the delivery of these vehicles could be made, a turning point was reached.

Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

1945 Jeep - Littleton Coin Blog

The Army quickly responded to this attack on freedom.

A versatile machine, the Willys MB was used in a variety of roles. They could be found bringing supplies across the battlefield, bearing the wounded to medics, on airfields around the world and even heating C-ration cans. Soldiers were so enamored with the durable automobile, they were often credited as a major influence in winning the war.

“I don’t think we could carry on the war without the Willys MB. It’s as faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule and as agile as a goat,” Ernie Pyle, an Army correspondent during WWII, stated.

These trusted companions of the soldiers carried the Allied forces to victory in Rome, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo.

Welcoming the Next Generation

As World War II began to draw to a close in May of 1945, the need for a versatile vehicle continued to ramp up. Looking for a way to serve not only those keeping the country safe but also the working class of America, it was time to turn attention to the farmers.

After the war, there were roughly 5.5 million farmers spread across the United States but only 1.5 million of them had a truck or tractor with which they could do their work. That left about 4 million farmers relying on antiquated farming techniques. Seeing the need to help America’s farmers flourish, the CJ-2A was born. Marketed as “The All-Around Farm Work-Horse” these machines could accomplish the same jobs as a pair of draft horses and were readily available to the public.

Over the course of the past 80 years, the Jeep brand has continued to evolve into a vehicle for all while remaining true to its all-purpose origins. In Littleton’s new and exciting Colorized Jeep Note series, take a ride back in time and relive the exciting achievements of these innovative vehicles during World War II.

Have you ever owned a Jeep vehicle? What colorized Jeep note are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments below!

Pay tribute to these patriotic vehicles with Littleton’s new Colorized Jeep Note series today!

This article was written by Rachael R.

A bibliophile with a love of history, Rachael enjoys spending her time with her nose buried in a book learning about the history behind the coin.


Humble Beginnings –
Jeep. “Jeep® History: A Timeless Tale of Adventure Accessed December 18, 2023.

The National Museum of World War II Aviation. Accessed December 18, 2023.

The Call to Action –
Capps, Don. “The Jeep in World War II” Accessed December 18, 2023.

Harris, LTC Darrin. “Forged in War: The Birth of the Jeep in World War II” Accessed December 18, 2023.

Welcoming the Next Generation
Jeep. “Jeep® History: A Timeless Tale of Adventure Accessed December 18, 2023.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply