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Original Jeep to appear at 75th Anniversary Bash

by Bill Cawthon on

The first Jeep is coming home to Butler, Pennsylvania, for its 75th birthday and Jeep fans are invited.


While the original Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), known as the Pilot, was destroyed during Army testing, a painstaking 3,500-hour recreation of the Pilot was built by Duncan Rolls of Longview, Texas, between 2004 and 2008 and it will be on display during the Fifth Annual Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival from June 12-14.

The BRC will be joined by the Bantam BRC-40, Willys MA and Ford GP, early jeep (actually “truck, 1/4 ton, reconnaissance”) models along with a Willys CJ-2A fire truck and Ford’s amphibious GPA, sometimes called a “seep.”

The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is organized by the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau and a group of Jeep enthusiasts. It celebrates Butler’s role as the birthplace of the jeep. (See Curtis Redgap’s Bantam Jeep article)

The Festival will take place in Downtown Butler and at the Butler County Fairgrounds along Route 422, just west of Butler. Organizers hope is to create a premier annual event that attracts Jeep enthusiasts from more than 25 states and Canada.

On Friday, June 12, festival organizers are hoping to beat their own Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Jeeps. In honor of the 75th anniversary, plans call for the first 75 Jeeps in the parade to each represent one of the 75 years of production.

For more information about the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, visit the event’s website

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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