Sunday, December 14, 2014
Today we come back to yet more photographs by the Willys Overland favorite, contract photographer, Milton Zink. I’ve been bringing you photos from the Toledo Lucas County Library’s online collection for some weeks and Milton Zink keeps popping up. Other than being a local from the Toledo area with an established photography studio and brief bit of info on him and his family line I know little else of Zink. But I do know that he took many important historically important photos back in the early days of the jeep. As well he was a talented photographer, able to capture the playfulness, power and versatility of the jeep. He was able to photographically illustrate the uniqueness of the jeep compared with anything that had come before it. These photos are of an MB slat grill, which was the early standardized model by Willys that featured steel bars for a radiator grill and was replaced by a lighter stamped grill for subsequent years.
A couple of questions are brought up by these photos. The stamped grill came from a Ford design that they used as a standard design in their GPW models that were built simultaneously alongside the MB. If this was actually shot in 1940 (and judging by the driver’s heavy overcoat and lack of leaves, it must be late fall time...) would this have been one of the first very early MBs built in 1940? The first 25,000 or so were indeed equipped with the steel bar ‘slat grill’ radiator guards. And of course, I also wonder who the test driver was. He certainly wasn’t afraid of putting the jeep through its paces judging by his wild jumps getting air at the top of the hill. Its hard to say for certain how inclined the hill was either, but it does look steep enough to be a cheek clencher (and this without seat belts or roll bars either!).
They are captioned as being shot down by the Ottawa River, a location that Zink had used before in photos of an early MA model. The Ottawa River is a tributary to Lake Erie that flows through the city of Toledo. I wonder if anyone knows exactly where these test sites were located?
Hope that you enjoyed the short update today. Visit our Zazzle store for the best custom designed jeep gifts around and come back next week for more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, December 7, 2014
And as in ‘didn’t they shoot an awful lot of press photos there?’ It seems that way, but I love this staged shot. I’ve already talked a bit about Milton Zink and what I could find on him, but it still surprises me how often he turns up as the photographer that Willys turned to time and time again. He was a local Toledo photographer with a studio located in the city, but I’d sure love to know more about his background and history with Willys.
These images turn up in the Images In Time online collection of the Toledo Lucas County Library and are a real treasure of historical photographs of the jeep’s early history up through the 1950’s primarily. Check them out and remember that everything belongs to them if you decide to share. Please credit them appropriately.
The couple of photos above playfully show an MB balanced on boards that are in turn balanced on a beer bottle at each corner. I’m not sure who the gentlemen were, but the ladies were most likely from the Willys Administration Building’s secretarial pool. I only wonder how they managed to get the MB up and balanced like that? As far as the exact date, the TLCP Library lists these three images as variously between 1940 and 1943, but given that the MB wasn’t produced until 1941, I’d say 41-43 probably as a publicity stunt. I also included two more below. One of an exterior shot of the same building (also taken by Zink...) showing the expansive Corinthian columns along the front of the building and another also shot on the front steps of the Jeepster along with three comely ladies. I’d like to think that it’s the same three women as in the MB, but who knows? Its dated as belong to 1955, but I’d say probably more along the lines of the Jeepster’s production years of 1948-50.
I also want to say thanks for sticking in there with me the past few weeks. I’ve been so incredibly busy lately that it was impossible to get anything accomplished to my satisfaction. I’m putting in time working in a new job with my local union as well as my regular 40 hour a week job. That and after years of doing this I’ve gotten just a bit burnt out. From time to time I may need to take a break. I’m looking forward to designing some new products for the This-Old-Jeep.com Zazzle store too, but unfortunately nothing new is coming down the pipe for this year. But I will be back at it. Check out the store. There are always lots of great holiday sales going on and lots of great designs for yourself or any other jeep lover in your life.
One more thing that has been taking up time in my life has been the fact that my wife and I are expecting our third little jeeper next month. Doctor’s visits and the usual planning and nesting have been occupying my time and thoughts lately. Its taken away alot of my focus on this site, but my wife and I have been looking forward to this for a long time now! But don’t worry, I’ll be back. Come back next week for more of the best of the jeep since 1940!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Today we’ll have a short, but sweet update as I’m still working on the voluminous amount of material in the Toledo Lucas Library collection. Plus, I did promise you guys and gals an update. The LA Times is a pretty respected newspaper and has been since 1881 accumulating a grand total of 41 Pulitzer prizes. So in all that time its not at all surprising that a photo of a jeep or three has raced its pages and have been seen through the eyes of its photojournalists. Through the power of the internet, these images and thousands more are available through the LA Times’ photography blog, Framework, which is described as....
“Framework, the photography and video blog of the Los Angeles Times, celebrates the power and explores the craft of visual storytelling. The blog highlights the work of Times photojournalists who frame by frame, document the drama, the emotion and sometimes the humor of life. Framework also aims to serve as a resource hub for photography, multimedia and video enthusiasts who share our passion.”
Today, we have five of those images. The first are a series of desert training photos with Major General Patton in the desert of California in April 1942. In them you can see MBs as well as many left over Ford GPs and Willys MAs that were widely used stateside during the war. The next photo, which features a script tub Willys MB, is from a sad chapter in America’s history- the internment of Japanese- Americans in 1942. Finally, a 1948photo of a CJ2-A that was being used to spray DDT in Santa Monica as part of an insect control program. Enjoy these and click here to see the entire album of photos and come back in two weeks when I hope to have a fuller update of the Images In Time collection. I won’t be in town next week so unfortunately I won’t be able to get to it then. In the meanwhile try to stay warm out there!
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Hi guys and welcome back to another installment of the wonderful treasure trove of images that can be found at (and are obviously the sole property of...) the Toledo-Lucas County Library collection, Images In Time. Its a collection of historical photographs of the Toledo and northwest Ohio areas. Naturally containing images from Toledo it also contains a great many of the historical past of Willys-Overland and the jeep. The images that I’m presenting today are solely of Willys offering to the Quartermaster’s call for a quarter ton vehicle. The Willys MA was the first standardized pre-production model that was offered up for testing right after their first prototype, the Willys Quad.
The photos here were shot by a fellow named Milton Zink. I’ve tried to find anything on his photographic and life history, but have only come up with a few leads and dead ends at that. I’m fairly certain that this Google Sites webpage details Milton Zink’s ancestry. His ancestors emigrated to this country from southwestern Germany in the early 19th century. Settling at first in western New York they bought land and farmed near the Erie Canal. Later they moved westward as far as Michigan leaving many descendants along the way. In 1933 a book was published detailing the Zink family history. It was coordinated by a Milton Zink of Toledo, Ohio through a series of questionnaires that he sent out to the widespread Zink relatives.
Besides the numerable attributions to the “Zink Negative Collection” from the Images in Time collection, I’ve found quite a few other random mentions of Milton Zink or the Zink Photography Studio as being the creators of photographs of various Toledo area architectural landmarks. Derek Redmond of the CJ3B Pagementions him only as “Willys photographer Milton Zink.” If you have any further info, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to find out more and let you know about him. Photography is a side interest of me and well, Zink was fairly involved in recording alot of the jeep’s early history.
Most of these photos are only credited as “circa 1940” and sometimes with a question mark, but I’d imagine that they were shot sometime around late 1940, early ’41. The first MA’s out of the 1,553 built were delivered in June 1941 for further testing alongside the Ford GP and the Bantam BRC-40. Of course many of these 4,500 or so pre-production models were used on military bases well after these early years, but I’d hazard a guess that Willys shot the majority of the photos I bring to you today in that summer of 1941 for publicity shots or documentation. Most of the photos were according to the TLC Library are credited as “A photo of a Jeep being maneuvered in the Ottawa River near the Bancroft Street Bridge in Toledo, Ohio, as part of a demonstration.” Whoever the test driver was they certainly wanted to show off the versatility and water fording abilities of the Willys jeep. I just hope that they drained all of the oils in the diffs, transmission and transfer case afterwards! The two factory floor images are interesting as well. They show the MA rolling off the assembly line floor alongside the Willys Americar that was produced from 1937-42. They are dated 1942 as is the neat photo of the ice skater jumping the MA on an ice rink. It looks like a close call.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Quite a few years back now I stumbled across the Toledo Lucas County Library’s online collection of photographs and its what you’d expect of an online collection based in the hometown of the jeep. Its a true treasure trove of images. When I began looking it was far more than I had ever hoped to find and it was hard to pull myself away. There’s everything here from the turn of the century historical images of a young Willys-Overland company straight through and detailing alot of early jeep images that are hard to find anywhere else. There is a ton of jeep stuff here and so I want to slowly present it to you guys, starting today with some of the earliest images, the pre-jeep Willys-Overland that emerged at the turn of the century to sell some 4,000 cars a year by 1910 and was one of Toledo’s largest employers. Willys-Overland and its subsidiary and auxiliary businesses that supplied it at the time employed a full third of Toledo’s workforce! That amounted to 18,000 employees in Toledo alone with a further 20,000 in Elyria, Ohio, Buffalo, New York and Flint and Pontiac, Michigan.
John NorthWillys grew up in Canandaigua, New York, in the western end of the state. He was an enterprising young man who eventually started out selling and manufacturing his own line of bicycles. That is, until he saw his first automobile in 1899 while on a business trip in Cleveland and grew convinced that this was the future of transportation. He became a dealer at first using a Pierce that he bought to use as a demo model. He eventually sold Ramblers as well and being the turn of the century it started off slowly with only a few sales per year. Ever onward, Willys began selling Overland autos until he took advantage of financial difficulties in that company and acquired it in 1907. It became of course, the proto-Willys-Overland Motor Company.
Willys shifted his production facilities to Toledo when he bought yet another bankrupt car company, Pope. It was a success. He sold more than he could nearly produce and by 1909, the very same year that Henry Ford introduced his Model T, the Willys-Overland Company unveiled the Overland Model 38. “For the model years 1910 through the end of the Ford Model T production in 1927, the Overland car was second in production only to the Ford.” (Allpar.com) By the end of 1910, Willys-Overland was producing over 4,000 cars per year, all of which were pre-sold as they were produced. He ended with a profit of $1 million within one year of nearing bankruptcy. In the five years between 1910 and 1915, production increased by tenfold from 15,500 cars to 150,000. Its pretty amazing what he accomplished- and all this way before the jeep was dreamed of.
Things went on from there in a pretty steady rate. It was in 1913 that he acquired the rights from a British manufacturer, Charles Knight to produce under license an engine that used something called the sleeve- valve that replaced the traditional valve system still in use today. It was innovative, but not as efficient as what it led to, the Go-Devil 4. By 1917, Willys-Overland Motors (as it was now called...) produced 1,000 cars in a single shift!
Willys was incredibly active, gobbling up smaller and less successful companies and adding to his holdings. Among them, were the Moline Plow Company (which later became Minneapolis-Moline and during WW2 made tractors which the Navy used as tugs moving aircraft, which were coincidentally nicknamed ‘jeeps’!), Duesenberg and the New Process Gear Company of Syracuse, NY (which, of course, also coincidentally produced many, many transfer cases which modern jeeps used... he later had the sell the NP company. But this leveraged debt and labor troubles forced him to dump off alot of it as well, but there are interesting connections.
John North Willys never seemed to slow down. He died of a heart attack in 1935 at the young age of 61 after saving his company from bankruptcy. He was driven, working 12-16 hours a day sometimes seven days per week. After his death, the company was reorganized as the Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. and was helmed by chairman, Ward Canaday, who along with Joseph Frazer as president and Barney Roos, the engineer became familiar as some of the early names behind the jeep.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Just a short update today. I was planning on a longer article along with a short history, but that will have to wait until next week. I was battling through an early fall season cold yesterday and the usual assorted weekend responsibilities and just ran out of time after starting the project. But we’ll shoot for next week on that. Today is another website find- WW2Jeep.GPortal. I’m not exactly sure if its independent of or linked up with the always excellent all military G503.com site or not, but WW2Jeep is a wealth of photos and info. There is a ton of stuff there though the site is a bit difficult to navigate unless you speak Hungarian or allow Google to translate it for you, but check it out.
These images are a smattering of what I started to find there about 5 years ago or so. Well nowadays there is a ton more! This is mainly Bantam stuff and alot that I hadn’t seen before (and some I have) so I thought it was pretty neat. Bantam photos are always fairly rare when compared to the standardized MB and GPW shots that you find. There are standardized prototype BRC-40 photos (the 1,500 units that the Quartermaster ordered from Willys (the MA) and Ford (the GP)) as well as photos of the original Pilot/ Old Number One that Bantam turned out first of all back in 1940 and as well a four wheel steer model. Most are original photos with some screen shots from a film thrown in here and there. Check out the full album here.
Come back next week when I’ll plan on having a fairly more substantial update. until then don’t forget to visit and support our sponsors, Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland. Have a great weekend!
Sunday, September 21, 2014
On this dreary rainy early fall day and the last day of summer I’ve decided that I needed to dip into a special folder that I’ve kept that has sorta surprisingly filled up not so slowly over time. The jeep and its near invincible reputation has lent itself to humor and exaggeration greatly over the years. Its ability to do near anything has been a great source to poke fun with in these images. Hope that you enjoy and get a laugh or two. Come back next week and I’ll try to have a longer writeup. You can view the entire collection in the Website Finds folder here.
I’d also like to take this time to thank our sponsors, Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland for their continued support of This-Old-Jeep.com. Both have decided to renew their commitment to helping me bring you the best of the jeep since 1940. Please take the time to check them whether you need a part for anything from the full sized jeep pickups, wagons and Cherokees and Wagoneers from 1946 through 1988 to your YJ, TJ and JK parts. Whatever you’re driving, restoring, wheeling, working with or on, check them out. Extreme Terrain and Montana Overland have you covered! Click on their links above or call 1-406-741-5337 to reach George at Montana Overland or talk to Extreme Terrain’s Jeep enthusiasts at 1-855-556-8044 Mon-Fri 9-8 EST. Remember, their support is what keeps this site online, so please support them.