The MB is the vehicle we recognize today as the iconic World War II military vehicle. Willys (pronounced "will-eez") was awarded the contract and built more than 368,000 of them. Ford built 277,000 more under license.
For some reason, the vehicles became popularly known as "jeeps." Chrysler historians insist the name was not a contraction of GP for "General Purpose." The vehicles were never commonly known by those initials, they say.
In the first World War, according to Chrysler's official account, "jeep" was a slang term for any piece of unproven military hardware but, in World War II, the name became firmly attached to one vehicle.
The term stuck to the MB, in particular, because of "Eugene the jeep," Chrysler says. Eugene, a magical dog-like pet that could walk on walls and ceilings, first showed up in Popeye comics in the mid-1930s. Like Eugene the jeep the MB could go anywhere, so the name stuck.
According to the Patrick Foster, author of the "Standard Catalog of Jeep" and other Jeep books, the name was, iindeed, a contraction of GP. It had been applied to a variety of military vehicles over the years, including a tractor used to haul heavy artillery and an airplane, he says.
The name stuck to the MB, according to Foster's version of the story, because a reporter heard soldiers call the thing a "jeep" and assumed the name applied to that vehicle alone. News reports immediately began identifying it as a "jeep."