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The Ford GPA, an amphibious veteran

Ford GPA
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Ford GPA was a small amphibious vehicle based on the famous 'Jeep'. The idea was that a sailing jeep could be a useful tool during an Allied landing from the sea and when crossing rivers.

From failure to collector's item

However, the design was not a success; the small amphibian was too heavy and difficult to handle both in water and on land, properties that he shared with more amphibious vehicles from WWII and the years after. The Ford GPA 'Seep' was the basis for the later and more successful amphibian truck, the DUKW that originated from the GMC 'Jimmy'. Meanwhile, those amphibious vehicles plus their German counterpart, the VW 'Schwimwagen' and the Amphicars are highly sought after collector's items. And that means that in the meantime these vehicles are selling very well


Always those abbreviations

In the military, they love abbreviations that are - to the insiders - very clear. GPA stands for: G stands for government, P stands for a wheelbase of 80 inches (213 cm) and A stands for 'amphibious'.

The Ford GPA was officially on the books as QMC-4 ¼ Ton Truck Light Amphibian.

The Jeep was already in production at the beginning of the Second World War and proved to be a success. In March 1941, the American National Defense Research Committee (NDRC, another abbreviation) was therefore asked to investigate whether the four-wheeled 'handyman' could also be made amphibious. This sailing jeep (also known as Seep from 'Sea Jeep') was thought to play an important role in the fight against the Third Reich in Europe. Indeed, it was very practically taken into account that many bridges would have been destroyed by the retreating Germans and a sailing jeep could be very handy.

Created by a yacht builder

In June 1941, Sparkman & Stephens, a pleasure yacht designer, was commissioned to turn that idea into steel. The result should weigh a maximum of 1.200 kg. The drawings were completed in the fall of 1941 and Marmon-Herrington was asked to build a prototype. That prototype was presented in December 1941. But the thing weighed nearly 1.700 kilograms, which was way too heavy. Around the same time, Ford was also asked to come up with a prototype of a light amphibious vehicle. Ford provided the standard Ford GPA with a watertight hull, a propeller and a rudder. In February 1942 the Ford prototype was presented to the army command and in April Ford was ordered to produce 5.000 units.

More haste less speed

The vehicle was not extensively tested under time pressure and in practice the performance was disappointing. With a weight of 1.600 kg, the vehicle 400 kg was heavier than planned. However, the volume of the hull was not adjusted. As a result, the vehicle lay very deep in the water as a vessel. As a result, less cargo (passengers and cargo) could be taken along. The result was due to its depth / low freeboard only to be used in calm weather and few waves despite the fact that the Seep was equipped with a bilge pump. The planned deployment of the Seep to bring soldiers and cargo from ships to shore was therefore somewhat under scrutiny at the games of chance.

And if the Seep had come ashore, it turned out to be too heavy

and therefore often got stuck in the sand. Under the American loan and lend laws, Seeps were also delivered to the Soviet Union. GPA liked it better there, because they did meet expectations quite well when crossing rivers. But after the outbreak of peace, the survivors found little global love and employment. Until they were discovered by collectors and investors.

We found our photo model with our advertiser Potomac Classics from Terborg

A reaction

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  1. Calling yourself a serial worder….

    But then write very bad / weird Dutch and in every piece you write stupid sgreivvaudten….

    I think it's only vague!

    Time and again I have to read back to understand what is meant…?

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