The plot thickens...good news for Kalamazoo supporters.

April 28, 2000

Until yesterday or so I had assumed that this car and it's two sisters had been delivered more or less completed in a semi-knocked down condition on pallets, similar to overseas shipments made at the time. [And, maybe they were]. I felt this way because the car had a Bantam data plate on the dash, just where it was supposed to be. (As I have noted elsewhere, it also has a Checker data plate under the hood which describes the car as a Bantam RC.)

HOWEVER! Although this may have been the situation, I now I think there may be some other explanation and I need the help of any BRC owners looking in on this.

Here is an example of the usual Bantam data plate. This is probably a reproduction, but a good one. Note first of all that the die used to strike the numbers is of a size that nearly fills the spaces. I have checked with several BRC owners and they have this same size die [although few have original data plates if your BRC has one please let me know what it looks like, or send a picture]. Note second of all that the delivery date is by month and year.

Here is the relevant detail from my data plate (which is identical in other respects to the one above). Note that the die used for this plate is considerably smaller than the usual Bantam plate. There are other details foot on the 4 for instance ...which might bear examining. Note on this data plate that the "delivery date" give a month, DAY and year (not in military fashion BTW where it would have been day month and year).

Now look at the same detail Checker data plate:

Both plates carry the unusual chassis number #101 which would have been out of the Bantam sequence for the time, But, as Norm Booth has pointed out to me, this would have been a very logical number for Checker, (or any other company) to begin a new series with.

[A really telling difference which I had over looked initially is the Gross vehicle weight, stated to be 2690 on this plate, but 2070 (?) on the typical Bantam plate (maybe Bantam didn't know that Gross weight would include the pay load which I thought was 600 lbs. Add the pay load to the Bantam shipping weight and the Checker plate then becomes"correct"...even more correct than the original Bantam.]

Note the dies of these two plates. I'm not the FBI lab, but close examination shows them to be, if not identical, very, very close.

So the evidence is mounting up, but what does it mean?

1) Having now performed an autopsy, it is clear that the car is unquestionably a BRC. The dies and castings and other details are all Bantam. I really do not feel this car was "built from Bantam plans" as some have suggested. There would have to be some difference somewhere. Moreover it has two data plates (presumably) from two different companies indicating that it is a Bantam. But it is not so clear to me now that the car was actually assembled in Butler. What's your take on it?

2) The car has a Bantam data plate that is dissimilar from other Bantam data plates (on information and belief anyway) in two [three] important respects. The number and dies are different, and the date form is diferent.[And the gross weight is different].Yes Bantam could have had two sets of dies. Yes, they could have used differing date forms. But the gross weight thing seems inexplicable. Does anyone have this three unit month-day-year form on their BRC data plate?

3) The car has a Checker data plate which in itself must indicate something. The dies on the Bantam and Checker plates on this car are, if not identical, pretty close to it.

4) There are handwritten notes on the reverse of both Bantam plates giving a notation as to where they are to be placed on the dash.

There clearly was something going on between Checker and Bantam. [And indeed there was...see the contract between them here] I am expecting to see the first page of a contract between the companies that someone says they have. Karl Probst is reported to have sent a Mr. Snow at Checker, at least a partial set of plans.

IMHO there is no way the Army sent thse jeeps to Kalamazoo as my seller suggested. If you read the Rifkin Report and the writings of I.F. Stone in PM and The Nation at the time, it is obvious that the Quartermasters Corps was turning itself inside out to screw Bantam and get the big 16.000 unit jeep contract for Ford [Actually, even though the initial bias was for Ford, the Biggers Moore conversation seems to have shown a bias shift to Willys. Under all circumstances Bantam was treated like dirt by the QMC from the very beginning and could never overcome this prejudice against them]. (By arbitrarilly changing the weight specs to accomodate the overweight Ford with its 9N tractor engine the plan backfired and allowed the much more powerful and even more lard-assed Willys to enter the fray successfully).

Bantam was cooked and certainly Probst if not Fenn knew it. At one end there was Ford with its humungous production capacity and sway over suppliers and tooling ability, and at the other side was Willys with its hot rod (Everybody loves more horsepower, but was it really neccessary? The using services and IF Stone seem to indicate it wasn't). The Services were delighted with the Bantam as it was built and were begging for it. The Willys only became "preferred" when it was made available, approaching weight specs which had almost doubled!) In these circumstances it would have be more than just logical for Bantam to try to salvage something.

We will have to wait for more evidence to surface about the Checker/Bantam thing....but back to the question of where these three "Checker BRC's" came's an interesting item. Frank Fenn's testimony before the Truman Committee hearings indicated that 150 of the jeeps it produced under the 1,500 unit production were diverted to overseas shipment [England?] AND HAD TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE QUANTITIES OF SPARE PARTS THAT COULD ONLY BE OBTAINED ...BY TEARING DOWN 11 JEEPS AND BOXING THEM AS PARTS.

Is Kalamazoo overseas??? Stay tuned!

Austin/Bantam home /Recon/ BRC101