The Sea Jeeps from WWII Hit the WatersThere are countless versions of "Jeeps," or Jeep based vehicles. Even the military modified them and used them far from the standard assembly line truck from the factory. They were the working mule of the Armed Forces, and whatever job you had in mind, a Jeep, or something based on a Jeep, could probably get the job done. Enter the Sea Jeeps (which are also known as a "Seep" or a Ford GPA). After conquering the land, whether it was mud, rocks, or jungle bush, it's not a far cry to think if a Jeep can do this well, maybe we can make a boat out of it too? Since Ford was already making Jeeps (based off the Willys design), the military had them come up with a vehicle similar to the already existing DUKWs (contracted for GM to make). The vehicle was helped designed by Marmon-Herrington. (You might recognize the name from their early 4x4 systems to convert 2WD pickup trucks to 4x4s in the 50's and 60's). Marmon-Herrington also helped develop the DUKW, so they clearly knew what they were doing when it came to all wheel drive. The new GPA (G=Government, P=80" wheelbase, A=Amphibious) Sea Jeep was smaller and lighter than the DUKW since it was based on the Jeep chassis. Factory Jeep parts were used whenever possible to keep costs down, and allowed them to be built quickly and easier. In the end, the vehicle performed poorly in the war. Some GIs felt that the standard MB Jeep could fjord a shallow river faster and easier than the GPA could. While the Sea Jeep could do some work to help out during the war, it's reputation was less than stellar, and production was soon halted in little more than one year. The remaining Seeps were used in the Lend Lease program, and shipped to other Allied countries, from Britain to Russia. The Sea Jeep lived on after the war in Russia, as they liked the design so much they copied it, using the GAZ factories to produce their own version - the GAZ46. You can read more about the Sea Jeep here.
Jeeps can Fly - the VZ-8 Skycar/Airgeep
As if making Jeeps into boats was not enough, some thought it might be better if a Jeep could fly. While ambitious, the Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep was only similar in name, and not really based on a Jeep we all know and learned to drive. The Airgeep was developed around 1957, and was used as an experimental VTOL (Vertical Take Off Landing) craft. It incorporated two tandem 3-bladed rotors for lift. Several engines were tried during testing over the years, till 1962, and the vehicle was somewhat successful. While designed to fly low (under ground radar for instance), it could fly several thousand feet in the air if needed. Ultimately, it was one of those ideas that looked good on paper, but didn't make sense in the long term. The military passed on putting them into production because helicopters were more viable and practical. Read more about the Airgeep here. So what if these prototypes were successful? Would you be boating around in a Jeep, or flying our AirJeeps to work in the morning?