September 21, 1940 (give or take a day or two), the first jeep came to life. It happened in a small factory in a small town in western Pennsylvania. The factory was the American Bantam Car company in Butler, and that first prototype was still years away from being officially christened the “Jeep.” Over time the jeep would be built by many other companies and the American Bantam Car Company would drift into the wings. Willys and Ford would build the majority of military jeeps, and then Willys would build the civilian models and so on through Kaiser, American Motor Company, and now Chrysler. Nonetheless, the little town of Butler can claim credit for starting it all, and this past August they did so with a giant celebration for the 70 (or 71) years of the Jeep.
The Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau in collaboration with Jeep, Quadratec, and a plethora of sponsors and local historical societies put together a birthday party of sorts for the Jeep brand. The celebration consisted of a giant Jeep show at the local fairgrounds and a world-record-setting Jeep parade down the main street of Butler. The event was to die for if you’re a Jeep fanatic, with Jeeps and enthusiasts coming from around the world.
Luckily this won’t be the last Bantam Jeep Heritage Jeep. Next year’s event is already scheduled for August 10-12, 2012. For more info visit www.bantamjeepfestival.com.