There’s a strange new jeep out in the field. Not very many of them but the minute you see one hopping across a meadow, you’ll know it’s something new under the sun. It’ll be tearing along a perfectly straight course, when suddenly at a flick of the driver?s wrist, it?ll make a right angle turn that?11 make you blink your eyes and look again. At cruising speed it will do an “about face” smartly as a bee stung donkey. You?ll rush right home and throw the bottle out the window. But you’re all right – you’ve just been watching the amazing performance of the jeep with the four-wheel-steer. The four-wheel-steer is another step toward making the 1/4 ton reconnaissance a right-tight little car fully able to scoot out promptly from under the bright face of danger and fly away home. It has no arms (so far) and it has no armor — so it’s got to have git-up – and – go. Bantam BRC60 4 Wheel Steer. Photo courtesy of Jacco van Snippenberg. The Netherlands. The idea is not new ? back in the last World War, many a driver gasped and turned pale as the terrifying quad beneath him responded too quickly and too much to the slightest touch on the wheel. Imagine threading delicately in and out of traffic with a truck that answered the wheel like a crazy grasshopper? Bantam BRC40 4 Wheel Steer. Photo courtesy of Jacco van Snippenberg.The Netherlands. But today’s four-wheel-steer has a delayed action on the rear wheels that permits the driver to make all those delicate curves and turns without the rear wheels coming into play. Perhaps an even better device is the declutching arrangement that allows the driver to throw out his back wheel steering. This is not to say that driving today’s four-wheel-steer jeep is a cinch. It still has keg of dynamite characteristics. It’s the closest thing on the ground to piloting an airplane. That’s why every Tom, Dick and Harry won’t be driving one – that’s why, in the final analysis, the four-wheel-steer may not even be accepted. But if it is, you?11 see some artful dodging that’11 make lubricated lightning look like Grandma Pettibone doing the big apple.
The Ford GP 4 Wheel Steer. Photo courtesy of Jacco van Snippenberg. The Netherlands.
These are pictures of a jeep attributed to Checker. A sign next to this jeep, claims:“1941 Checker Reconnaissance Car – Checker Motors, Kalamazoo, Michigan. The unique vehicle was a prototype designed by Jim Stout, Head Engineer of Checker Motors for the United States Government for World War Two. This vehicle features a four cylinder engine and four wheel steering.” Other sources state that this is really a Bantam BRC that was shipped to Checker and assembled there. Apparently, there was a brief attempt to work out a deal between Checker and American Bantam to produce the jeep. These pictures were contributed by Barry Freeman and unless otherwise noted quotes are attributed to Barry Freeman.
A view from the front. It obviously is a Bantam BRC but with a Checker claim.
Inside the jeep, drivers side. The dash looks very much like a standard Bantam BRC. Of interest to me, the location of the starter which under the steering column near the bottom of the firewall.
Drivers’ side looking into the wheel well to look at the steering mechanism. Note the rod in the upper right hand corner. This rod is going toward the rear of the vehicle to operate the rear steering.
“From behind the driver’s front wheel. That is the steering box, it seems to have a separate arm, mounted higher, for the rear wheels. If so, why not make it the length needed to steer the rear wheels instead of the proportioning thing. Also notice the uncovered flywheel.” Editors Note: The idler arm was used to slow the steering down at the rear. The front wheels began to turn before the rear wheels.
“From right in front of the driver’s side rear wheel. The greasier arm is from the front. I think this proportions the rear wheel steering.”
“From the back underneath, looking at the rear passenger wheel.” Note the horizontal rod that actuates the steering arms seen at the right center of the wheel.
It makes one wonder what could have been had Checker and Bantam been able to combine production capabilities or had either gone on to produce a jeep vehicle during or after the war. Thanks again to Barry Freeman for some interesting pictures
Sources: Army Motors, Nov 1941 & TM-1205, 1941
Sources: Barry Freeman