The BRC-12 Concept
Many speculate the term “Jeep” is derived from the military term GP (Government Purposes or General Purpose), which when phonetically slurred together sounds like the name we all know and love. But the origination of the Jeep began with a now defunct auto manufacturer called the American Bantam Car Company.
With an escalating war in Europe, the U.S. Army decided that it needed a lightweight recon vehicle to add to its arsenal. The bid requirements were that the vehicle would be four-wheel drive, have a crew of three on a wheelbase of no more than 80″ and tracks no more than 47 inches, feature a fold-down windshield, 660 lb payload and be powered by an engine capable of 85 ft·lb (115 N·m) of torque. The most daunting demand, however, was an empty weight of no more than 1,300 lb (wiki).
Bantam Car Co. and Willys Overland were the only two manufacturers to respond, and Bantam delivered the first blueprints in the summer of 1940. The Army then gave the blueprints to Willys Overland because of Bantam’s inability to manufacture en masse’. Bantam’s final prototype was dubbed the BRC-40, or Bantam Reconnaissance Car – model 1940.
Unfortunately the last BRC-40 was built in December 1941, but the essence of its design lives today in every Jeep. That’s why Bushwacker has decided to pay homage to the original prototype and build a new GP vehicle – the BRC-12, or Bushwacker Reconnaissance Car – model 2012.
The BRC-12’s base will be our ’99 TJ. We decided to use a TJ instead of a JK primarily because of the TJ’s simplicity, which aligns with the original BRC design (granted, it’s no CJ but it’ll do). The look, feel, and functionality will be derived in several ways. First, the paint has to be drab, and the fender flares have to be flat. Its profile cannot be to high or wide, and most importantly the
BRC-12 must be a daily driver capable of handling extreme terrain.
This means we have to be particular in the way we build the BRC-12. The fine line between daily driver and weekend toy isn’t hard to cross. So our first step in the build process will be the lift and tires since those are the most drastic change to the vehicle. If we go too high we’ll gain a whole lot of wind resistance, but too low could leave us stuck on an obstacle. We’ll also have to find the right balance between the tire size (no pun) and lift height. Fortunately our flat style fender flares will open things up and help with articulation.
With the concept in mind, we can now move on to the actual build. Next week we’ll discuss how we picked our lift, wheel and tire package. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!