Future POS, local artist celebrate Butler-birthed classic
May 22, 2017
BUTLER, Pa. – It was one of the most difficult tasks in automotive history: Construct a revolutionary new vehicle for the Army, from scratch, in 49 days, and give the job to a bankrupt car company in a small Pennsylvania town.
While it sounds impossible, Butler’s American Bantam Car Company delivered the goods in 1940, rolling out a four-wheel-drive pack horse for hauling soldiers: The Jeep.
Count Future POS and a local artist among the fans of the iconic vehicle. The point-of-sale software company teamed with Butler artist Eileen Stroup to decorate a Jeep sculpture for display at the company’s Route 8 corporate headquarters. The partnership dovetails with the June 9-11 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler that will draw up to 15,000 Jeep aficionados.
“It was really great fun to work on a project like this,” Stroup said, adding she logged 20 hours assembling and painting the Jeep in the Future POS garage.
Stroup said her wooden, two-dimensional relief sculpture depicts a BRC-40 Bantam Jeep, the 40-horsepower vehicle Bantam Car Company built 87 years ago.
She described the sculpture as 8 feet long, 4 feet tall and 4 inches deep. Stroup used royal blue paint for the body and light permanent green for the dots, mixed with yellow.
“For the Future POS Jeep, I worked with the company’s graphic designers to refine this design,” she said. “They sent me some pictures, and I made a few recommendations based on what I know works well on the Jeep and would be ‘paintable’ by me. I have painted about 30 of the 150 Jeeps out there so I know what works well and fits on the sculpture.”
Stroup said her Jeep is large enough to make a statement while she used composite wood materials to keep costs down.
She started crafting them in partnership with Butler Downtown in 2011.
“What’s cool is many businesses, even after seven years, still have their Jeeps,” she said. “I was contacted by a soldier in Afghanistan who wanted a Jeep to take to Jeep festivals around the country. I told him I would paint it for no fee.”
Butler’s birth of the Jeep captured the attention of Nevada historian Paul Bruno, who penned “Project Management in History: The First Jeep.”
“I first heard of the Bantam story while watching a History Channel documentary Big Rigs of Combat: Jeep,” Bruno said. “As I began researching the history of Bantam’s achievement, it became clear this firm with no money, a vehicle with a revolutionary scope, an impossible timeframe and a daunting quality challenge - their vehicle would undergo the most brutal of testing at the hands of the Army – represented an astounding tale of talent, creativity, ingenuity, persistence, luck, but that most people had never heard.”
According to the Bantam Jeep Festival website, the Army asked 135 tractor and automobile manufactures to design a reconnaissance car for military deployment. Two companies responded to the bid, The American Bantam Car Company in Butler, and Willys-Overland Motors of Toledo, Ohio. Since Bantam promised to deliver a prototype in 45 days, it won the job.
“The Bantam Jeep not only represents a milestone in the U.S., or for that fact world automotive industry, it also represents, one of the greatest accomplishments in automotive, if not of all industrial history,” Bruno said.
Bantam produced 2,675 Jeeps before shutting down operations in 1956, according to the Bantam Jeep Festival website. The Jeep name survived and spawned commercial models such as the Wrangler, Grand Cherokee and Liberty. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles owns Jeep.
Contact: Gordon Ovenshine, Content Specialist, Future POS; Gordon_Ovenshine@futurepos.com