The Ford Pygmy is a small, obscure car that was produced by the Ford Motor Company in the 1940s. It was one of the first examples of a "subcompact" car, a category that would become popular in the 1960s and 1970s with the introduction of vehicles like the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla.
The Pygmy was developed in response to the high demand for small, fuel-efficient cars during World War II. With gasoline rationing in place and a need for vehicles that could navigate the narrow, crowded streets of Europe and Asia, Ford saw an opportunity to produce a car that was both economical and practical.
The Pygmy was designed to be as small as possible while still being able to seat four people. It had a tiny, two-stroke engine that produced just 9 horsepower, and it was built with a lightweight, all-steel body. The car was small enough to be shipped in parts and assembled on site, making it an ideal vehicle for military personnel and foreign markets.
Despite its diminutive size and modest specifications, the Pygmy was well-received by the public. It was praised for its nimble handling, low cost, and fuel efficiency, and it quickly gained a following among consumers who were looking for an affordable, practical car.
Unfortunately, the Pygmy was only produced for a few years before being discontinued. It was eventually replaced by the Ford Falcon, a larger and more powerful vehicle that was better suited for the American market.
Today, the Ford Pygmy is a rare and sought-after collectors' item. Its small size and unique design make it a popular choice among car enthusiasts, and it is often featured in vintage car shows and museums. Despite its brief production run and relative obscurity, the Pygmy remains an important part of automotive history and a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Ford Motor Company.
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September 19, 2017 by Even the average layperson knows the most popular 4×4 made today, the Jeep Wrangler, is generally based on a military application of a bygone era. The documentation is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Historic Vehicle Association and the U. No restrictions are placed on subsequent use or sale of the vehicle. The Light Reconnaissance and Command Car The U. But this only tells half the story of the classic Jeep. Though Willys-Overland was the low bidder, Bantam received the bid, being the only company committing to deliver a pilot model in 49 days and production examples in 75.
The Willys company produces over 363,000 examples whilst the Ford Motor Company produced over 280,000 jeep-types during the war. The vehicle was also issued with a fold-up cloth roof to protect occupants against the elements but offered little in the way of protection from battlefield dangers. Withrow said that he had to do some minor work on the Pygmy after buying it, including a rebuild of the brake system and fuel system as well as sourcing the correct wheels and tires for it, but the Pygmy today remains largely as it was constructed and tested in 1940. The Jeep was also converted into an amphibious car to ford water sources by way of a special boat-like hull fitted around the chassis and special attachments fixed into place for air intake and exhaust of the engine. In addition, as Patrick Foster wrote in The Story of Jeep, Bantam had already submitted specially modified cars to the Army for testing even before a committee of Army officers drew up the specifications for the quarter-ton four-wheel-drive scout car, so Bantam officials already had an idea of what the Army was looking for.
Of the three hand-built contenders to be tested the first prototype was supplied by American Bantam and another by Willys-Overland , this is the only survivor. Nowadays, nobody disputes the fact that Bantam was the first to submit a prototype for what would eventually become the quarter-ton jeep and eventually the postwar civilian Jeep. By October 1941, it became apparent Willys-Overland could not keep up with the production demand and Ford was contracted to produce them as well. Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Alabama where it is preserved in virtually original un-restored condition. Neither the original Bantam Pilot nor the Willys Quad are known to have survived.
Part of a network of sites that includes. Though small, the original Jeep was capable of providing much-needed firepower and munitions to the battlefield The finalized Willys Jeep featured the Go Devil motor, a powerplant with a legendary reputation. The design could run on roads at speeds of 60 miles per hour, climb 40-degree slopes, achieve a turning radius of 30 feet and tilt up to 50-degrees to either vehicle side without tipping over. Initially, only American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland Motors entered the competition; Ford Motor Company joined later. As a result, the Jeep became something of a workhorse hero to the civilian-minded public. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. Keep reading, you might be surprised.
It wasn't the lightest, it wasn't the fastest, and it wasn't the first submitted. It was obtained by a private collector in the United Kingdom and has been restored. Since Bantam did not have the production capacity or fiscal stability to deliver on the scale needed by the War Department, the other two bidders, Ford and Willys, were encouraged to complete their own pilot models for testing. Designed to combine the agility of a Humvee with the durability of. Variants ranging from wagon-like ambulances to heavily armored versions suitable for front-line combat.
World's oldest existing jeep prototype, the Ford Pygmy, to go on National Historic Vehicle Register
Bantam had delivered a pilot to the Army on 23 September 1940 and both Ford and Willys had been given access to Bantam's drawings as well as an opportunity to observe the highly successful testing of the Bantam competitor. While it never entered production itself, it pioneered several features, such as its folding windshield, that would make their way into the production model By mid-1941, American Bantam, Ford, and Willys-Overland were each cranking out similar mobility machines for the armed forces, but the Army decided it was logical to consolidate down to a single model. The latter made up for its excess weight with its 60-hp four-cylinder, while the 45-hp Continental four-cylinder of the Bantam was deemed adequate, but the 42-hp four-cylinder of the Ford set it at a disadvantage. Another innovation was headlamps positioned on hinged brackets which allowed them to be pivoted to illuminate the engine compartment at night. On that note, that name sounds a little long-winded. Department of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs to document historically significant automobiles, trucks and motorcycles.
It kind of looks like what your 5-year-old might draw if he or she were to see a Jeep and was then asked to draw it on paper. Indeed, on September 23, 1940, two months after submitting his designs, freelance engineer and designer But others would soon follow. For a transmission, Ford engineers essentially brought the Model A's transmission out of retirement, and they then mated it to a Spicer transfer case and axles. He refused to say how much he paid for the Pygmy more than 30 years ago because he said he doesn't want people asking him if they can buy it for that much today. The Most Popular 4×4 Ever Made Ford and Willys produced over 638,000 units of the first Jeep between 1941 and 1945.
The principle initial parties involved were the U. Why is a Jeep called a Jeep? The contract for the new reconnaissance car was to be determined by trials. Intriguingly, Army officials revised the maximum weight of the successor models upward to 2,160 pounds, just 10 pounds heavier than the Pygmy, suggesting that Ford representatives had somehow convinced Army officials that the weight of the Pygmy was sufficient. By November 1940, the U. The headlamps were also positioned on a hinged bracket which allowed them to be pivoted to illuminate the engine compartment at night. Of the three prototypes that automakers submitted for the U. The vehicle proved a compact, 4x4 wheel drive vehicle powered by a 4-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine running at 4,000rpm for hours on end.