Classic World War II-era jeep to be displayed at Ponte Vedra Auto Show


A 1945 Ford GPW described as a “rolling museum” by its owner will be on display at the Happy Trails 4x4 booth Sept. 24 at the Ponte Vedra Auto Show.

The vehicle is one of about 280,000 World War II jeeps built by Ford Motor Company under contract with the War Department from 1941 to 1945. The four-wheel drive vehicle contains a four cylinder, flat head motor with 60 horsepower. The jeep is equipped with various squad and crew-served weapons (inert display pieces), including a M2HB Browning .50 caliber Heavy MG, a Browning Automatic Rifle, an M1 Garand, a M3 “Grease Gun” and numerous Mark II fragmentation and smoke grenades.

The GPW’s owner, Alexander Watkins, said he got the vehicle from a mechanic who restored jeeps during the Korean War.

“That’s where I got it from, that was his last jeep,” explained Watkins. “He probably had 25 to 30 jeep projects during the years.”

According to Watkins, the vehicle was built late in the World War II era, and it would have been used for a Japanese invasion had President Harry S. Truman refrained from dropping the atomic bomb. What makes the jeep unique, Watkins said, is that it has remained intact all its life.

“Everyone knows what a jeep is and they know it from history, from movies, any number of sources,” Watkins said. “It’s an iconic piece of American history, it’s the vehicle that won the war.”

Additionally, the jeep owner revealed that the vehicle’s development cycle was short.

“It was advanced [for its time] in the sense that it was the first four-wheel drive vehicle,” Watkins said. “In actuality, it was conceived and developed and put into production in a very short period of time…about an eight-week to ten-week development cycle.”

The owner also noted that the Ford GPW was “a lot of fun” and a vehicle that “brings a smile to a lot of people’s faces.”

The Ponte Vedra Auto Show will take place at the Nocatee Town Center, which is located at 460 Town Plaza Ave.