Our Goals:
1. To raise awareness of the history and primacy of the Bantam Reconnaissance Car and the true origins of the jeep.
2. To celebrate, honor and memorialize the achievements of the men and women of the American Bantam Car Company who created the BRC.
3. To familiarize as many people as possible with the concept, design and physical characteristics of the BRC.
4. To establish the BRC's rightful place in military and automotive history.
5. To locate any remaining BRCs so they may be restored and preserved.

BRC Photos and Videos (check back periodically for new entries!)

Jump to Photos

Videos:

1. Watch a video of the 47th Annual Austin Bantam Society Trophy Meet, which gathered 23 BRCs and a number of Austin and Bantam civilian cars to celebrate the BRC's 75th Anniversary. Included in this video is footage of a "fun run" on Friday, October 23, 2015, which has the longest BRC convoy since the War! Visit the extraordinary BRC gathering, and even partake in the festivities at the club's Awards Banquet.

LINK TO VIDEO

2. Watch a video of the BRC Pilot Car Re-creation in action! Here, master BRC restorer Duncan Rolls of Texas has re-created the original jeep: the Bantam Pilot Car that was delivered to Camp Holabird on September 23, 1940. The original pilot car has been lost to history. Duncan's re-creation enables us to see, touch and drive a precise re-creation of this groundbreaking invention. Duncan visited the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, taking precise measurements of "Gramps", a 1940 BRC that is the Pilot Car's closest surviving relative. Then incorporating data from forensic examination of Pilot construction photos, he built the Pilot from the ground up. The process involved more than 3500 hours of Duncan's time. The car now resides in a private collection and will be part of the BRC75 celebration in September of 2015 in League City, TX.

In addition to the Pilot, a later model BRC built in 1941, appears in this video. Look closely for differences in the hood, grille, headlights and fenders, all changed to simplify manufacturing and reduce cost.

LINK TO VIDEO

3. Hear Duncan Rolls tell the story of the development of the BRC Pilot car re-creation and the work he's been doing to ready 14 other BRCs from the Williams collection for the 75th Anniversary Celebration at the 2015 ABS Trophy Meet in League City, TX. From the acquisition and fabrication of extremely rare parts to the choice of themes and accessories, the amount of work being done in Duncan's shop is astounding. Duncan is a gifted and exacting restoration craftsman, and this interview reveals his views on the importance of historical accuracy and three-dimensional storytelling.

LINK TO VIDEO

4. Visit Duncan Rolls' BRC restoration headquarters in Texas. Duncan has more BRCs under restoration in one place than anyone else in the world. Because of the magnitude of his task, Duncan has a unique methodology for the restoration of BRCs. Now known as "Mr. Bantam" among military vehicle restorers and collectors, Duncan's many years of dedication to BRCs is reaching its zenith, as he readies the Williams fleet for the BRC 75th celebration. Join Terry Williams in this behind-the-scenes snapshot of Duncan's progress as of April 26, 2014.

LINK TO VIDEO

5. Watch two British-Pathé previews of historic 1941 films of early BRCs in action.Video 1: The first clip shows soldiers putting BRCs through their paces, and emphasizes the BRC's small size and rugged performance. The announcer remarks several times about the small size of the jeeps, and there's even a size comparison shot with an airplane. The car's versatility is also highlighted, including the reference, "mobile machine gun nest." Video 2: The second, shorter clip, contains footage of the famous jumping BRC towing an anti-tank gun over rough terrain in the Carolinas.

6. Watch three wonderful clips from historic film transfers on sale by a company called Critical Past. The films are copyrighted by Critical Past. There are several great previews on their site, and you may even choose to buy an entire video for personal use!

Video 1: Check out an Army training team using a 1940 BRC to power a raft, using it as a platform for shooting a 37mm gun and an anti-aircraft gun!

Video 2: Watch four soldiers from Fort Benning, GA wrap a BRC in a tarp and float it across a river!

Video 3: Watch exercises at Fort Riley, KS where Latin American officers observe the firing of 37mm anti-tank guns from the ground and from vehicles, including a BRC.

7. Hear about Butler, PA and its importance in Bantam history from lifelong Butler resident Bob Brandon. Bob has been active in the Austin Bantam community for many years, and once owned a BRC himself. Bob's BRC memories go all the way back to 1960 and bring us up to the present day, so you'll want to watch this interview first.

LINK TO VIDEO

8. Watch an interview with BRC collector Terry Williams, who is a past president of the Austin Bantam Society, hosted the club's Trophy Meet in October of 2015, featuring BRCs from around the world. In this October, 2013 interview, Terry envisions that this meet would be the largest assemblage of BRCs since WWII, and it was!. Terry has worked with BRC restorer Duncan Rolls to assure future generations will be able to see accurately restored or re-created examples of each type of BRC. Terry's collection resides in his private museum in Texas.

LINK TO VIDEO

9. Hear from BRC owner Bruce Lynch, who tells how he drove through a snowstorm to get his BRC. Bruce currently serves as the Vice President for BRCs in the Austin Bantam Society, and has been interested in military vehicles for many years. Bruce's storytelling ability and strong feelings about the importance of the Bantam Reconnaissance Car make this a must-see interview.

LINK TO VIDEO

10. Visit Wayne Dowdle in his shop in Tennessee as he recalls his lifelong love affair with military jeeps. Wayne is one of very few people in the world to own all three early jeeps, the Bantam BRC, the Willys MA and the Ford GP. An active member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, Wayne has a unique perspective on the importance of the Bantam BRC in the overall jeep story. A born story teller, Wayne can't help but show his abiding enthusiasm for military jeeps.

LINK TO VIDEO

11. Spend some time with BRC restorer and enthusiast Jim Schwartzkopf as he tells about his first BRC and as he reflects on some of the issues BRC restorers encounter as they undertake their projects. Jim is an exacting and resourceful restorer, scouring the globe for parts and manufacturing the parts he can't find. Jim speaks with interviewer Bill Spear at Bill's place in California, and takes his first ride in Bill's BRC, #1911.

LINK TO VIDEO

12. Get an insider's view of Jim Markell's "man cave" as he tells the story of his multi-year pursuit of his BRC and the wonderful success and visibility it has gained over the past decade or so. The jeep appeared at the 2010 Military Vehicle Preservation Association's show in Topeka, KS, and many other local, regional and national shows. Jim's been a jeep nut ever since he was a kid, but he became involved with Bantam civilian cars before the BRC entered his life. Jim's BRC serves as the backdrop for this casual and friendly session.

LINK TO VIDEO

13. Get a peek inside the Tipton, KS shop where Ken Hake made BRC history in the late '70s through late '90s when he located treasure troves of Bantam parts, and began the first mass restoration of BRCs in modern history. Ken had a lot to do with the renaissance of BRCs within the military vehicle community, and this history is important to our current standing in that community. Please take a few minutes to hear from Ken as he recalls how his son's interest in moving from two wheels to four got him started on a 20-year odyssey that will go down in BRC and military vehicle history.

LINK TO VIDEO

14. Hear more from Bob Brandon as he talks about Chet Hempfling, one of the key players in the development of the early jeep. Bob knew Chet and his heirs, and was entrusted with the safe keeping of two important Bantam artifacts following Chet's passing in 1989. Chet worked with Ralph Turner and Harold Crist hand building the BRC prototype that was delivered to Camp Holabird on September 23, 1940. Chet and Ralph drove the untested vehicle from Butler to Holabird.

LINK TO VIDEO

15. See a clip of actual Army footage of 1940 BRCs in performance tests used in the Laurel and Hardy film, "Great Guns". Here, in a pre-WWII comedy, Laurel and Hardy participate in a training exercise pitting the White and Blue Armies against each other. Notice first that most of the overland troop movement in the movie is handled by horses. The Cavalry was very much alive and well in 1940, and for the most part not very enthusiastic about a mechanical replacement for the horse. At time marker 57:31, (You can slide the cursor below the film clip to the exact location of the clip if you don't want to take the hour and a half to watch the whole movie!) Laurel and Hardy take their own slapstick test drive in a jeep-like vehicle. The Army wouldn't release any of the real BRCs for the movie, so the producers got a fabricator to build a BRC look-alike for this scene. Although not a fully functional reconnaissance car, this prop was likely running around before most of the major manufacturers' models were.

Later in the movie, a large group of cavalry and infantry charge through the battlefield. At the time marker 1:06:14, in a brief clip provided by the US Army, a line of 1940 BRCs (note the round hoods) are shown very capably grinding through some rough terrain. The BRC tests were conducted at various Army posts across the country in the winter of 1940-41.

LINK TO VIDEO

Photos:

1. See a Life Magazine/Google Cultural Institute gallery of photos of the BRC Pilot Car being tested at Camp Holabird, MD in November of 1940 by clicking here.

2. Check out several scenes from the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, PA, held June 12-14, where Duncan and Kim Rolls led the largest Jeep Parade in history (2420 jeeps) in the BRC Pilot! BRC75 president David Kanally also participated in the event, presenting a portion of chairman Bill Spear's research at the History Speakers Series. Duncan and Kim told the BRC Pilot construction story as well during this series.