Vehicle to Be Joined By Other Rare 1940s Jeeps from
Omix-ADA's Private Jeep Collection, along with a Jeep that Swims
The world’s original Jeep is coming home. Thousands of Jeep and auto enthusiasts will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the only known re-creation of the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), the world’s original Jeep, at the 5th annual Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. For the first time, the Pilot is returning to its birthplace in Butler, Pa. to celebrate its 75th birthday June 12-14.
The BRC will be accompanied by the first Jeeps made by Ford and Willys and other rare 1940 models in the Jeep History Exhibit sponsored by Omix-ADA, the world's largest Jeep parts independent manufacturer.
The original Pilot, created by Butler's American Bantam Car Company, was destroyed during Army testing, and Duncan Rolls of Texas painstakingly re-created the BRC between 2004 and 2008. The BRC is the vehicle that all future Jeep models was based on.
“I became interested in Jeeps as a boy watching World War II movies, then began restoring World War II Jeeps for fun," said Rolls. "I eventually became interested in the origin of the Jeep. Thirty years later, I decided to re-create the Bantam Reconnaissance Car after much research and what I thought was a reasonable budget. While it only took the American Bantam Car Company 49 days (approximately 1,200 hours) to produce their Jeep, it took me 3,500 hours of my spare time over four years.”
The pilot will be accompanied by approximately 12 rare Jeeps from the 1940s, six provided from the private collection owned by Omix-ADA. A Bantam BRC-40, Willys MA, Ford GP and a Willys CJ-2A fire truck will be featured along with other military and civilian models, including the Ford GPA, a Jeep that can swim.
“We’re looking forward to sharing this significant part of our Jeep collection at the Festival,” said Al Azadi, founder and president of Omix-ADA. “This is the first time this many Jeeps in our collection have traveled to the northeast, and we know the attendees will appreciate seeing this incredible display of Jeep heritage in Butler.”
Festival organizers believe the Jeeps will be a big attraction for the event that draws thousands of Jeep owners from more than 25 states and Canada. "Having the Pilot here for the 75th Birthday Bash, along with the Willys MA and Ford GP, is a gift for every Festival attendee. Jeep and car enthusiasts alike will want to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these rare Jeeps together, "said Patti Jo Lambert, Festival director.
To celebrate the Bantam's birthday, the Festival is planning to beat its own Guinness World Record for the Largest Parade of Jeeps on Friday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. Plans are for the first 75 Jeeps in the parade to collectively represent all 75 years of Jeeps. Organizers expect up to 2,500 Jeeps to participate.