Sunday, November 2, 2014

Toledo Lucas Library Images In Time- Milton Zink And The Willys MA

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 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.
Come back next week for more of the best of the jeep since 1940 and please remember to support our sponsors, Extreme Terrain and Montana-Overland. Check out the full album of photos right here and remember to credit the Toledo Lucas County library if you share!

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