The story of the Bantam Jeep starts with Herbert Austin who founded the Austin Motor Company and wanted to expand into America. After failed negotiations with General Motors for them to build a licensed version of the Austin Seven in America, he formed in February 1929 the American Austin Car Company. The new car was to be built in Butler, Pennsylvania, the bodies were to build by Hayes Body Corporation, of Grand Rapids, Michigan and then shipped to butler. Unfortunately in October 1929 saw the start of the Great Depression.Bantam Jeep Classic as the company got started the American stock market collapsed and the Great Depression took hold, very bad timing for a new car company to be starting. By the end of the first year of car production they had sold just over 8500 vehicles, making a loss of about $1 million dollars.  The trend continued into 1931 with only just under 1300 vehicles sold, The American Austin Car Company factory closed down in early 1932 with a large number of unsold vehicles and all the tooling inside. Roy Evans purchased the 1,500 unsold Austins and sold them through his vast used car dealerships. After selling all the American Austins, Evans purchased all the remaining parts and resumed building cars. For the next two years, vehicles were once again produced at the Butler plant, with Roy Evans financial help. This however came to an end in 1934 when the American Austin Car Company filed for bankruptcy.Bantam Jeep Classic Evans purchased the American Austin Car Company for $5,000 and in 1936 reorganised the company as the American Bantam Car Company, introducing new redesigned cars and trucks. By dropping the Austin name he could avoid paying royalties to Austin Motor Company in England. The first new models were produced at the end of 1937, the main difference was the new streamlined radiator grills and the new shaped fenders. By 1939, five new models were available and future looked bright. From 1937 to 1940 the company produced approximately 6,700 cars and trucks. By early 1940 things were looking gloomy, most of Bantam’s employees had been laid off which left just 16 employees to build the new Bantam Jeep.Bantam Jeep Classic 1940 the U.S. Army had contacted 135 companies asking them to supply a working prototype four wheel drive small reconnaissance car. Bantam had sent one of their roadsters to the Army for testing before the war as a small scout car, but this had come to nothing. The Army gave the companies a deadline of 49 days to supply a working vehicle for testing. Only American Bantam said they could meet the deadline. Harold Crist started work on building a prototype with his small team. Frank Fenn the president of Bantam hired Karl Probst to produce drawings from the vehicle that Harold Crist and his team were building. For further reading on the Bantam Jeep, see ‘who designed the Jeep’  click hereBantam Jeep Classic