1942 Ford GPA Seep: Super-rare Slice of Military History
Most rare vehicles are difficult to find because they weren’t many built. But the Ford GPA ‘Seep’ is hard to find because most of them sank!
Of the many vehicles that helped the U.S. Military turn the tide of World War II, Ford’s GPW Jeep proved to be very successful and efficient. Thus, Ford landed a contract to develop a Jeep that could navigate both land and water. The result of that work led to this: the Ford GPA “Seep,” designed by Roderick Stephens Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens Inc. Yacht Designers. The amphibious Ford GPA headed to Europe shortly thereafter, seeing use both by the U.S. Army and our allies. And though around 12,778 of these unique vehicles were built, only around 80 are known to still exist. Making this stellar 1942 Ford GPA, part of Omix-ADA‘s “Jeep Collection,” a truly special find!
Omix-ADA is not just a renowned maker/seller of Jeep parts, but also an important member of the Jeep community. The idea behind the Jeep Collection is to help preserve the brand’s heritage and have easy access to vehicles for product development. Over time, the collection has grown to include a number of rare and otherwise significant Jeeps. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with the Jeep Collection’s curator, Dave Logan, about these unique and interesting vehicles.
JK Forum: The Ford GPA “Seep” is a rare vehicle, but just how rare are they?
Dave Logan: I have learned recently that these are more rare than I really understood. And they’re more valuable, too. We acquired this as part of the Mark A. Smith collection. Smith founded the Jeepers Jamboree back in 1953. He acquired a number of vehicles, of which we bought eight.
Most of these GPAs were built and then shipped overseas for use, and then left overseas. After the war ended, soldiers came back, but most of the equipment was left behind. The U.S. wasn’t going to spend years and money bringing it all back only to try and figure out what to do with it.
So, that means finding a Ford GPA in the states is rather difficult?
In the U.S., you’re going to find that there’s fewer GPAs than there are in Europe. These were built primarily at the request of the Russians, who were our allies during that time. They wanted a small, amphibious vehicle to cross ponds and lakes. It was very common for the military to blow up bridges to prevent the enemy from being able to follow them, or to slow them down. So, these were useful for getting across rivers that no longer had bridges.
What is it that makes these interesting vehicles so hard to find today?
They built around 12,778 of them. Of those, most of them are sitting at the bottom of lakes and rivers. They sank with great regularity. There are pictures out there showing them in the water. They sat very low in the water and tended to sink. So, roughly 80 are known to still exist, around 20 in the U.S.
Along with a reputation for sinking, these were also difficult to drive, right?
If you look at all the levers and knobs inside, you can imagine that driving one is complex. Operators had to do double duty. They had to drive while also operating a whole bunch of levers and knobs to keep them afloat, propel them, etcetera. All the levers and knobs do different things.
One of the levers operates the propeller, another one the bilge pump. There’s a knob that pulls the anchor up. You can see all the brass plaques inside as well, which explained to the soldiers what gear you need to be in and what speed you had to be going when you entered and exited the water so you didn’t get stuck. I don’t think anybody ever drowned in one, but there’s a reason why the seat cushions were also life preservers!
Also See: 1959 Jeep FC-150: As Exciting to Drive as It Is to Look At