In 1940 American Bantam® Invented the Original Jeep.
In 2022 the all new American Bantam® is Inventing Again.
Return to Original
American Bantam is returning to the design objective of the original jeep that American Bantam invented for the US Army in 1940 to fill a market vacuum in the off-road vehicle industry. Off-road UTVs are hugely popular in the USA, but they have terribly dirty emissions, are not legal to drive on roads in most states and not legal to drive on federal highways in any state. Off-Road SUVs are heavy, gentrified, expensive and are no longer built for farmers or off-road enthusiasts. There is a huge global market for vehicles in the middle that are powerful, durable, lightweight, easy to repair with clean emissions that will drive anywhere.
American Bantam off-road vehicles come fully equipped for off-road adventure with a removable roll-cage, removable doors, military-grade axles, alloy wheels and 35-inch all-terrain tires. American Bantam vehicles weigh just a little bit more than the original World War 2 jeeps, and are able to conquer the toughest off-road terrain. Our modern direct fuel-injected turbocharged engine with 6-speed manual transmission deliver power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios beat modern day off-road vehicles.
American Bantam® BRC-22
|Length||3,378 mm (133.0 in)|
|Overall Width||1,955 mm (77 in)|
|Height||1,886 mm (74.3 in)|
|Wheelbase||2,328 mm (91.7 in)|
|Front track||1,685 mm (66.3 in)|
|Rear track||1,685 mm (66.3 in)|
|Curb Weight||1,206 kg (2,653 lb)|
|Dry Weight||1,122 kg (2,468 lb)|
|Weight Distribution||55% front – 45% rear|
|Pickup Bed Capacity||265 l (9.4 cu. ft)|
|Fuel tank capacity||56 l (22.7 US gallons)|
|Type||TGDI – Turbo-Charged, Gasoline Direct Injection|
|Total displacement||1,597cc (97.5 cu. in)|
|Bore and stroke||77 mm x 85.6 mm (3.0 x 3.4 in)|
|Maximum power *||136 kW (182 hp) at 5,000 RPM|
|Maximum torque *||302 Nm (222 ft-lbs) at 1,700~3,200 RPM|
|Specific output||85 kW/l (1.87 hp/cu. in)|
|Maximum Speed||> 128 km/h (80 mph)|
|0 – 100 km/h (0 – 62 mph)||6.8 seconds|
|0 – 160 km/h (0 – 100 mph)||20.8 seconds|
|0 – 400 m (0 – 437 yd)||15.55 seconds|
|Dry Weight/Power Ratio||8.88 kg/kW (14.6 lb/HP)|
|Dry Weight/Torque Ratio||4.03 kg/Nm (12.03 lb/ft-lb.)|
|Transmission||6-Speed Dual-Clutch Manual Transmission|
|Transfer Case||2-Wheel Drive High / 2-Wheel Drive Low
4 Wheel Drive High / 4-Wheel Drive Low
|Brake System||Hydraulic Power Assist with ABS + ESP|
|Front Brakes||13.5 in x 1.1 in (342 mm x 28 mm) Disk Brakes|
|Rear Brakes||13.5 in x 0.6 in (342 mm x 14 mm) Disk Brakes|
|Front||35X12.5R17 All Terrain (889 mm Diameter)|
|Rear||35X12.5R17 All Terrain (889 mm Diameter)|
|6.9 l/100 km||(34.6 mpg) Average|
Made in USA
“The name of the company is American Bantam Car Corp. There was never any question: American Bantam® off-road vehicles will definitely be Made in USA.”
Charlie Paglee, CEO, American Bantam Car Corp.
From the very beginning way back in 2010 our plan has always been to manufacture American Bantam® off-road vehicles in the USA. Our strategy is to begin manufacturing off-road vehicles in the USA while we engineer compliance with USA automotive regulations for a completely new street-legal off-road vehicle. The decision was simple: when a company’s name contains the word “American” the products they sell in the USA must be built in the USA. No two ways about it.
American Bantam Car Corp. is a USA owned company with a long American history and strong American heritage. American Bantam® was founded by Charlie Paglee, combining the resources of an 88 year old company with an 80 year old automotive marquee to relaunch the brand that invented the Jeep.
When we say “American” we mean United States of American, not Canada, not Mexico, but good ol’ USA. American Bantam® has already met with half a dozen different USA state governments to explore building a factory in the USA. Our plan is to purchase a factory facility in 2021 and fit out our facility to begin manufacturing American Bantam® street-legal off-road vehicles in 2022. USA manufactured American Bantam® vehicles will supply the USA and Europe.
American Bantam® will launch our line of off-road vehicles based on the original WW2 era BRC-40 Bantam® Reconnaissance Car. We have re-engineered the original vehicle to improve safety and performance with a full six-point roll cage, safety seats, seat belts, laminated safety glass, coil over spring fixed axle rear suspension and a fully independent front-suspension. Our new vehicle will include a modern direct fuel-injected engine fully compliant with California CARB and EPA off-road vehicle emission requirements to provide excellent 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive performance. Off-road vehicles don’t require crash testing which will allow us to go to market sooner.
American Bantam® off-road vehicle bodies will always be built by American workers, not by robots, using manually operated spot-welders and MIG welders. American Bantam® off-road vehicles may one day literally be the last automobiles manufactured by humans beings in the USA.
American Bantam® Safety
American Bantam® is serious about off-roading so we take safety seriously from design, engineering and manufacturing. We build safety into our products and our manufacturing processes to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers alike. Whether in the USA or in our overseas factory facilities and manufacturing procedures build safety for American Bantam® employees into the manufacturing process every step of the way.
American Bantam® meets the challenge of fulfilling government mandated street-legal vehicle safety requirements for an off-road vehicle by engineering safety into mechanical, software and safety systems from the grill to the tailpipe. American Bantam leads the industry in designed-in street-legal off-road safety features including:
- Low Profile Low Center of Gravity Design
- Stamped Steel Body and Steel Chassis Design
- Lateral Truss Side Impact Reinforced Door Beams
- 3-Layer CCC Approved Laminated Safety Windshield
- Integrated A-Pillar Windshield High-Strength Roll Bar
- Removable High-Strength Steel 6-point / 8-point Roll Cage
- Steel Reinforced Lower A-Pillar / Lower B-Pillar / Lower C-Pillar
- Canvas Covered ¾ inch (19mm) Roll Cage Protective Foam Padding
- 35-inch (888mm) CCC Approved 315/70R17 Deep Tread All-Terrain Radial Tires
- Inherently Stable 66.1-inch (1,680mm) Track Width under 65.7 inch (1,670mm) Wide Steel Body
- Always-Active Traction Control with Front/Back Torsen Mechanical Limited Slip Differentials
- Reclinable Steel Frame CCC Approved Seat with Deep Side and Lateral Bolsters
- Street-Legal 3-Point 2-inch (50mm) CCC Approved Seatbelt
- Mountings Ready for Extra 5-Point Racing Harness Seatbelt
American Bantam® off-road vehicles are designed and engineered with safety in mind. Our vehicles include the safety features off-roaders demand. Remember to Always Wear Your Seatbelt, unless you are wearing a 5-Point Safety Harness!
American Bantam Car Co will launch production of new American Bantam® off-road vehicles in the USA and in China together.
China is a paradise for off-roading. China has an excellent and relatively new national highway system but most of China is sparsely populated. People like to think of China as being very crowded, and the cities are, without a doubt, but 78% of China’s land is relatively unpopulated (the green areas in this map).
China’s terrain is also very suitable for off-roading. More than 58% of China is mountains and 28% of China is desert, so over 86% of China is ideal for a four-wheel drive vehicle. Most of China is empty: more than 98% of China’s population lives on less than half the land in China.
China has the world’s largest online social network for off-road enthusiasts called FBLife.com with 16 Million members. Every weekend off-roading events are held all over the country with thousands of people participating. Every October over a million off-road enthusiasts gather in the desert in western Inner Mongolia to celebrate off-roading during a week long government holiday.
Chinese automobile manufacturers make off-road vehicles for the military but they are oversized, heavy and under-powered. Imported off-road vehicles are subject to heavy duties and must be outfitted to be safe for off-roading. Even ten year old used 4x4s can sell for over $100,000 in China. So right now there is a dearth of off-road vehicles for a market with a huge demand in China.
China has a special “Type 2” off-road vehicle category which doesn’t require crash tests, airbags or an electronic stability control system which are required in the USA. The Chinese regulations for off-road vehicles make a lot of sense: the idea is these safety systems are not really necessary when off-roading because drivers and passengers always wear seatbelts. Certainly the last thing a 4×4 owner wants is an airbag to deploy when their vehicle hits a rough patch.
American Bantam® has spent the last four years engineering our new vehicle chassis and body to produce a quality vehicle at an affordable price. Multiple China vehicle manufacturers have approached American Bantam® to manufacture our new off-road vehicles. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with one manufacturer and, subject to Chinese government approvals, vehicle production will begin next year.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who is American Bantam?
American Bantam® is a heritage mobility brand, building cutting edge 4WD plug-in hybrid-electric powertrain technology to propel the off-road industry into the 21st century. Our USA manufactured Clean Off-Road™ vehicles will offer the performance, durability and price point of off-road-only UTVs, will be street-legal to drive on highways and will exceed automotive safety and emissions regulations to keep wilderness clean.
2. Why American Bantam. Why did you decide to relaunch American Bantam® Car Corp?
American Bantam is returning to the design objective of the original jeep that American Bantam invented for the US Army in 1940. Off‑road UTVs are hugely popular in the USA, but they have terribly dirty emissions, are not legal to drive on roads in most states and are not legal to drive on federal highways in any state. Off-Road SUVs are heavy, gentrified, expensive and are no longer built for farmers or off-road enthusiasts. American Bantam aims to fill the market vacuum between UTV’s and off-road SUVs and supply a huge global market for vehicles in the middle that are powerful, durable, lightweight, easy to repair with clean emissions that will drive anywhere.
3. American Bantam® Brand. What is your connection with the original American Bantam?
We set out to build street-legal Clean Off-Road™ vehicles that meet the design objectives of the original World War 2 jeeps. We explored a relaunch of the brand that invented of the original World War 2 jeep, tracked down Roy Evans’ descendants, acquired the Bantam® trademark, and started designing the new BRC-20, BRC-22 and BRC-25 Clean Off-Road™ vehicles.
4. Clean Off-Road? What is Clean Off-Road? Isn’t driving in the wilderness clean by definition?
Present EPA regulations allow off-road UTVs to emit 11 times the HC+CO+NOx gasses emitted by gasoline automobiles. ATVs and UTVs also are not required to get annual emissions inspections, so after a few years emissions usually get worse. American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles are legal to drive on roads and highways with emissions 11 times cleaner than your average UTV.
5. Green Field. Describe how you are creating the Clean Off-Road™ greenfield market.
Tesla realized amazing success by going after a greenfield market that no other competitors were seriously pursuing. Even in 2017 other auto makers were still claiming consumers didn’t want electric vehicles, until Tesla started eating their lunch and they realized Tesla’s vision was right. Jeep® started to exit the utility off-road vehicle market in 1987. No automobile competitors are seriously engaging with the street-legal utility off-road market. The first automaker to specifically target off-road enthusiasts and utility off-road vehicles and begin to manufacture street-legal Clean Off-Road™ vehicles that consumers want will dominate this market for a long time.
6. UTV Competition. Couldn’t UTV manufacturers also build street-legal Clean Off-Road™ UTVs?
It would be very difficult. UTV manufacturers lack the automotive engineering expertise to design street-legal vehicles. Potential UTV competitors would be forced to spend more than $100 Million and three years to catch up to American Bantam®. First, they would need to start a new clean engine development program from scratch. UTV competitors are not seriously addressing UTV emissions, and probably won’t, until forced to by the federal government.
7. Target Market. What is the American Bantam® target customer
American Bantam’s mission is to return to the original jeep design strategy: light-weight, fuel efficient, ultimate off-road performance. Off-Road Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) began to appear in 1988 to fill the void caused by Chrysler discontinuing the CJ-7 a year earlier. Today UTVs have replaced jeeps in many markets, but UTVs are only legal to drive on rural roads in 22 states and are not legal to drive on highways in any state.
8. Global Brand. What value do you place on the American Bantam® brand?
American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles represent the freedom to go anywhere and overcome any obstacle. American Bantam® will grow to become an incredibly powerful Lifestyle brand with global popularity. Much of Stelantis’ Jeep® trademark value is based on the deliberate misperception that Willys-Overland invented the Jeep during WW2. In 2020 FCA valued their “Jeep” trademark at USD $28 Billion. American Bantam®, Clean Off-Road™ and other trademark properties have the potential to become multi-billion-dollar assets.
9. Vertical Market. Why does American Bantam® focus on the UTV vertical market?
Chrysler has done an outstanding job transforming Jeep® into a very valuable lifestyle brand. By their own admission they don’t manufacture jeeps as a type of vehicle any longer: they build Jeep® brand SUVs. Stellantis Jeep® brand SUV customers have come to expect luxury and comfort, while most real off-road enthusiasts drive UTVs, or Wranglers or other SUVs heavily that are heavily modified to drive off-road. UTVs regularly outsell Jeep® Wranglers by about 2.5 to 1 annually in the USA. American Bantam® is pursuing the bigger vertical market.
10. Growing Market. Are you sure UTVs outsell Jeep® Wranglers?
American Bantam® is focused on off-road utility and off-road enthusiast markets that the global automotive industry is ignoring. American Bantam® is focusing on the higher volume market; numbers don’t lie:
Annual Jeep Wrangler USA sales: ~175,000 units
Annual UTV USA sales: ~450,000 units
11. Vertical Market. Why is American Bantam focusing on a vertical segment in the car industry?
Market studies predict the entire human-driven automobile industry will eventually become a vertical market. Autonomous vehicles driven by artificial intelligence are already being tested and when they are widely deployed human-driven automobiles will become a vertical market. The remaining human driven vehicles will be divided into four key segments: (a) Utility / Work, (b) Off‑Road, (c) Sports cars, (d) Specialty cars. Utility / work vehicles will eventually be replaced by autonomous vehicles, simply because autonomous will be safer, more convenient and cheaper to insure. In the not too distant future off‑road vehicles may become the largest human-driven automobile segment, an outstanding opportunity for American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™.
12. Powertrains. What is the American Bantam® powertrain options?
American Bantam® will sell vehicles with three different drivetrain solutions: (a) 6-speed Manual Transmission, (b) 7-speed Automatic Transmission, (c) Plug-in P2 Hybrid-Electric 7-Speed Automatic Transmission. We have a full-electric vehicle Clean Off-Road™ vehicle design in our roadmap to meet that very vertical niche market which we will disclose at a later date.
13. Hybrid Off-Road. What are the advantages of a hybrid powertrain for off-road vehicles?
Hunters, farmers and off-road enthusiasts all demand the same basic features: performance, light weight, extended range, fuel economy, durability and climbing torque. The instant torque from the electric motor in our hybrid-electric powertrain delivers incredible climbing capability on rocks, sand and in mud. Our smaller battery pack weighs 10% of what an extended range battery in a fully-electric 4WD pickup weighs, while our fuel-efficient turbocharged gasoline engine provides unlimited range, dependent only on the number of auxiliary fuel tanks.
14. Engine Specifications. What are the specifications of the American Bantam® engine?
The American Bantam® 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline direct injection TGDI engine was designed by FEV, the German engine designer that helped engineered the Ford EcoBoost engine that won the world’s best small engine 6 years straight. American Bantam’s TGDI engine technology is especially tuned to deliver torque over horsepower, supplying more horsepower and more torque than the 4.0 liter 6‑cylinder engine in a 2000 Jeep® Wrangler, at less than half the weight.
15. Hybrid Advantages. What are the advantages of Hybrid Electric over Pure Electric?
American Bantam’s hybrid powertrain adds only 485 pounds to vehicle curb weight with 10% of the battery weight used by an extended-range Rivian or Hummer 4WD EV. Our 4‑door Plug-In Hybrid Electric BRC-22e will weigh half of what a Rivian RT1 pickup weighs with an MSRP at less than half and with an unlimited driving range. Driving up mountains or through sand is a function of torque divided by weight, so instant torque from the hybrid electric motor on a lightweight vehicle delivers performance that off-road enthusiasts demand.
16. Electric Vehicles. Why not build Electric Off-Road Vehicles?
Weight and lack of charging stations. American Bantam’s focus is vehicles designed to be driven off-road, with clean emissions that are legal to drive on streets and highways all over the world. Our products meet the needs of customers who drive our vehicles into very unfriendly environments, so they must be light weight, rugged, durable, fuel efficient, reliable and easy to refuel. There are no charging stations in the middle of a desert, in a jungle, in the middle of the tundra or on a huge ranch, where fully electric off-road vehicles really don’t make too much sense. Also, hauling a 1,000-pound high energy-density battery mounted to the bottom of an off-road vehicle is not very practical or safe when driving off-road driving up mountains in rocky terrain.
17. Public Benefit. Does American Bantam® have any plan to give back to society?
American Bantam’s corporate charter includes mandates requiring corporate policy that will have a positive impact on society and on the environment. Specifically, American Bantam® has adopted a Public Benefit Corporate Statement which promises to protect the environment, bring manufacturing jobs to the USA, promote education and manufacture vehicles in a sustainable manner. This is part of our Certificate of Incorporation, so it is nearly impossible to change.
18. Clean Gasoline? How can you claim to protect the environment with gasoline cars?
American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles are street-legal and therefore must comply with EPA automobile emissions regulations. Our TGDI engine technology meets the California Air Resource Board (CARB) emissions regulations, stricter than EPA. Every American Bantam® off‑road vehicle sold in the USA that replaces an off-road UTV is equivalent to removing the emissions capacity of ten gasoline engine automobiles.
19. Regulatory Change. Will American Bantam® lobby to change UTV emissions regulations?
Politics is not part of the American Bantam® business model. We will advertise our vehicles as cleaner than the competition, but we will leave it up to consumers to decide what product they want to buy. Today there are no street-legal alternatives to UTVs that offer UTV performance, durability and price point. American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles will change that.
20. USA Market. What demand do you see for Clean Off-Road™ in the USA?
American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles are street-legal to drive on all USA roads and highways while UTVs are only legal to drive on rural roads in 22 states and not legal to drive on federal highways in any state. COVID caused UTV inventories to sell out in early 2020 as more people wanted to escape the cities and enjoy the great outdoors. This trend to avoid populated areas is likely to continue. We believe the market for UTVs in the USA is far more than 500,000 vehicles per year. American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles have the potential to more than double the UTV market and American Bantam® will offer the only street-legal UTV vehicle.
21. Manufacturing. Where will American Bantam® manufacture its vehicles?
American Bantam® will manufacture Clean Off-Road™ vehicles in the United States, in China, and possibly in other countries. American Bantam® will initially manufacture vehicles in China under a contract manufacturing relationship with a Chinese manufacturing partner. American Bantam® is presently in negotiations to acquire factories in both the United States and in China.
22. China Launch. Is American Bantam® planning to sell vehicles in China first?China has a vehicle classification called Type 2 Off-Road which was drafted especially for street-legal off-road vehicles. Type 2 Off-Road vehicles are not required to be crash tested, do not need airbags and do not need Electronic Stability Protection. This makes sense because drivers don’t necessarily want those features when driving off-road; vehicles manufactured in the USA will include an extra key to turn these features off when driving off-road. We are able to launch vehicles in China a year earlier because China has this special Type 2 Off-Road class of vehicles.
23. China Market. Is there a demand for Clean Off-Road™ in China?
Off-roading is a strong vertical market in China. China’s Off-Road Heroes enthusiast club at one point had 17 Million unique IP addresses visit their website every month. Off-road enthusiast groups today are even more prolific on WeChat. Off-road vehicles sold in China must be street-legal, so UTVs are not legal to drive on any roads in China. Today it costs over $80,000 to purchase and outfit an off-road vehicle in China. China’s 400 Million strong middle class loves to travel, but most can’t afford to spend $80,000 on a toy. The market for a $25,000 to $35,000 American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicle is at least as big as the USA market: 500,000 units per year.
24. Global Market. Will American Bantam® sell vehicles outside the USA and China?
Absolutely. American Bantam’s goal is to manufacture lightweight Clean Off-Road™ vehicles with 4WD Plug-In Hybrid-Electric powertrains that offer the best performance in the off-road industry: better than gasoline Jeep® SUVs, Ford Broncos or Land Rover Defenders. We divide the world into Enthusiast Markets including the US, China, Australia and the EU and Emerging Markets including central and south America, Africa and Asia. We believe there is a market for another 1.2 Million annual vehicle sales outside North America and China.
25. Made in China. Will Bantam® import Chinese parts and just do final assembly in the USA?
Initially American Bantam® will bring stamped body panels and other components from overseas, including from China. Our Public Benefit Corporate Statement in our Certificate of Incorporation mandates that we “Manufacture products in the USA using American employees and American part suppliers in an effort to bring factories and manufacturing jobs back to the United States and support startup manufacturing enterprises in the United States”.
26. American Employees? Will American Bantam® just build a factory filled with robots?
American Bantam® vehicles being manufactured in China right now include parts made in the USA. American Bantam® vehicle bodies will be welded in the USA using manual spot-welders and American labor. Bodies and frames will be galvanized, painted and assembled in the USA. We will work with local educational institutions near each production facility to train new factory workers. We will always choose American part manufacturers over imported parts when pricing, quality and manufacturing capacity match overseas suppliers.
27. Global Manufacturing. Will American Bantam® manufacture vehicles in other countries?
We won’t rule it out. We have explored the possibility, but right now we are focusing on manufacturing in in the USA and in China to start. If other national governments come to us with the right incentives, we will certainly consider expanding manufacturing into other countries.
28. Environmental Impact. Explain how dirty present day UTV emissions really are.
Every year 1.25 Million ATVs and UTVs are sold in the USA as nonroad vehicles with 11 times the emissions of gasoline automobiles, the equivalent of 13.75 Million automobiles, very close to the 14.4 Million cars sold in the USA in 2021. UTV engines cannot exceed 1.0-liter displacement and cleaner emissions reduce power and torque, so UTV manufacturers have a financial incentive NOT to clean-up emissions. Outdoor enthusiast customers prefer cleaner emissions, just as long as they don’t have to sacrifice power. Because American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles are street-legal, our engines can exceed 1.0-liter and deliver the power and torque customers crave.
29. Societal Impact. How will American Bantam® “create a material positive impact on society?”Off-road vehicle consumers care more about durability and off-road performance than fit and finish. UTV competition sells welded steel-tube frames with loose-fitting plastic body panels. Hand welded American Bantam® Clean Off-Road™ vehicles can be manufactured with far fewer robots, and still meet the quality requirements UTV customers demand, while creating well-paying manufacturing jobs for American citizens, reducing up-front investment in robots and reducing investment risk. American Bantam® will train and employ thousands of welders.
30. Thousands of Welders? How will American Bantam® make money?
Employing low-skilled labor to weld American Bantam® vehicle bodies will have an undeniably positive impact on American society. Other USA automakers are reducing employee headcount by using robots and by moving jobs to Mexico. American Bantam® will build vehicles in the USA using American labor because we know those jobs bring wealth to our communities. American Bantam® will showcase the positive impact Made in USA jobs have on communities where our vehicles and components are manufactured and offset increased labor costs as a marketing expense. Studies show American Bantam customers will value our Made in USA marketing model.
American Bantam® Leadership
Charlie Paglee opened up the China division of Brannan Auto in 2007 and became the Chairman of the USA headquarters, Brannan Auto Parts, Inc., in 2010. In 2019 Mr. Paglee became the Chairman of American Bantam Car Corporation after merging with the Brannan Auto USA and Brannan Auto China corporate entities.
Mr. Paglee is recognized as an automotive industry expert by the China State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs. He also serves as the Chair of the Shanghai International Auto Group and the co-chair of the China Autonomous Vehicle Experts Group.
Born and raised in Maryland, USA, Mr. Paglee earned an Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University in 1992. Mr. Paglee studied in the Juris Doctor/MBA program at University of Maryland graduating in 1998.
Mr. Paglee relocated to China in 1993 and was one of the first foreigners involved in the off-roading community in China. He speaks fluent Chinese Mandarin and after living in China for more than two decades he has developed skills which give him a special advantage when doing business in China.
After completing his graduate studies Mr. Paglee worked as a senior executive in the telecom industry while continuing to pursue his passion for automotive manufacturing and off-road adventure in China. In 2007, after selling the telecom company which he founded, Mr. Paglee returned to the automobile industry full time.
Mr. Paglee is active in a number of charities and in the expatriate community in Shanghai. When Mr. Paglee is not working he is usually spending time with his family, offroading or playing sports with friends.
Public Benefit Corporation
American Bantam Public Benefit Corporate Statement
The specific public benefit purpose of the Corporation is to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner and to create a material positive impact on society and the environment from the operations of the Corporation, including to:
- Protect the outdoors by designing, developing, engineering and manufacturing off-road electric vehicles with significantly reduced noise pollution;
- Protect the environment by building off-road vehicles that emit a small fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions presently allowed by off-road Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs);
- Manufacture products using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes with components manufactured from sustainable and recyclable materials;
- Manufacture products in the USA using American employees and American part suppliers in an effort to bring factories and manufacturing jobs back to the United States and support startup manufacturing enterprises in the United States;
- Limit the number of robots in our factories and use the jobs we bring to the USA as selling point when marketing our products;
- Work with educational institutions to train skilled team members who can earn higher incomes and raise living standards in communities where we establish operations;
- Promote general education by sponsoring, acquiring, printing or distributing educational materials including books, open-source textbooks or online educational resources;
- Implement Quality Management Systems and Environmental Management Systems to improve quality, improve factory resource efficiency, reduce waste, reduce pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce costs.
In 1940 American Bantam Car Co. designed and built the first Jeep in record time because of their many years of experience building what were at the time comparatively small cars. No other car manufacturer at the time had the small vehicle engineering and manufacturing expertise that American Bantam® possessed and without that expertise the Jeep that helped win World War II may never have been conceived.
The predecessor to American Bantam® was the American Austin Car Co., which was founded in 1929 as a subsidiary of the Austin Motor Co. from England. They manufactured the Austin Seven under license for the American market until American Austin went into receivership in 1934.
Austin Motors was founded in 1905 by Sir Herbert Austin in Longbridge, England and grew to become one of the greatest car manufacturers in the world. Austin engineered automobiles were the first automobiles manufactured by American Bantam, BMW, Mini, Austin-Healey, Rover, Rosengart in France, Roewe in China and Nisaan in Japan.
The Austin Seven was an incredibly popular vehicle at the time and was the largest manufactured automobile in Great Britain in 1930. The American version of the Austin Seven had a 15 hp 747 cc (45.6 cu in) inline-four engine with a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) in top gear. The car was a tiny 10 feet (3m) long with a 75 inch (1905mm) wheelbase and weighed only 1,130 lbs (514 kg), enabling the car to achieve 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km) in 1930! The American Austin sold 8,558 vehicles during the company’s first year of production and produced around 20,000 cars before operations ceased in 1934.
American Bantam Car Co. was founded in 1935 by Roy Evans, a former salesman for Austin, who purchased the American Austin assets out of bankruptcy. American Bantam® car’s were built on the same 75 inch wheelbase chassis but with a new 19 hp (14 kW) engine and a new body with more modern styling designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. Production of the Austin Seven resumed in 1937 and in 1940 the engine was upgraded to 22 hp (16 kW) to achieve a top speed of 60 mph. Around 6,000 Bantam® Sevens were built before America entered World War II.
Charles ‘Harry’ Payne lobbied forcefully with the US Army Quartermaster Corps (QMC) to sell American Bantam® cars to the US military but in 1940 the QMC was in no hurry and lacked the budget to develop an entirely new vehicle. Payne wound up convincing Secretary of War Harry Woodring on the concept which eventually led to General Marshall’s office appointing an Ordnance Subcommittee to visit the original American Bantam® factory in Butler, Pennsylvania, where the first jeep was later invented.
At their headquarters American Bantam showed the Army QMC their existing Roadster and the Roadster Pickup. Indeed, displaying these vehicles would later come back to haunt American Bantam® because this is probably where the US Army initially came up with the idea that the “reconnaissance car” could weigh only 1,200 pounds with a 70 inch wheelbase, 200 pounds lighter and 5 inches shorter than the Austin Seven.
While the American Bantam® Pilot was indeed the first small, light-weight four-wheel drive vehicle, the American Bantam® Seven was the first vehicle the US Army QMC looked at when setting the specifications for the original jeep and was undoubtedly the foundation for the design of the first American Bantam® jeep.
Before World War 2
In 1927 Roy S. Evans, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, USA started what would become the largest nationwide network of used car dealerships. After the Wall Street crash of 1929 Mr. Evans began buying large inventories of surplus cars directly from automobile manufacturers. In 1932 when Mr. Evans heard about the American Austin he purchased their entire inventory of 1,500 vehicles and shipped them south to Atlanta and then on to his network of dealerships in Georgia and Florida. When inventory ran out Mr. Evans bought all remaining Austin parts from the suppliers’ warehouses and assembled new cars, and when parts were missing he invented new models, like the American Austin pickup.
James F. Brannan, also a native of Atlanta, Georgia, USA worked for Ford Motor Co. throughout the 1930s and started privately distributing Galion Dump Truck conversions for Ford trucks in 1932. In 1934 as a publicity stunt Mr. Brannan became the first person to drive an off-road vehicle, a modified Galion Ford Dump Truck no less, to the top of Stone Mountain near Atlanta. The publicity stunt made Brannan very well known in the Atlanta automotive industry and with Mr. Brannan’s experience modifying trucks he was the ideal person for Roy Evans to turn to when he needed American Bantam® trucks modified in the Atlanta area.
From 1932 onward all new American Austins were built for and purchased by Roy Evans, cunningly fronting the production money to the factory at an annual interest rate of 130 percent. On June 29, 1934, American Austin filed for bankruptcy and production ended in December, 1934 with just shy of 20,000 vehicles built over five years.
In 1935 Mr. Evans incorporated the American Bantam Car Co. and signed a deal to acquire $10 Million in American Austin assets for $5,000 in cash. At the last minute another bidder interested in the American Austin assets filed a lawsuit but Evans prevailed and completed the acquisition in 1936. Evans wanted to launch the American Bantam® with a more modern design and so he sought the help of Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the original designer of the Austin. The Austin engine was also modified so American Bantam® would no longer have to pay the license fee to Austin. American Bantam® engineers added an extra set of bearings to improve reliability and increase power. American Bantam® car production launched in 1937.
The last American Bantam® car rolled out the doors of the Butler, Pennsylvania factory on August 18, 1943. The company manufactured amphibious utility trailers and aerial torpedoes during the war. Roy Evans, Harold Crist and many of the other true “car guys” left American Bantam® in the mid 1940s.
The First Jeep 4x4
The FIAT Jeep Wrangler’s story actually begins with the American Bantam® Pilot, the first jeep, designed two months before the Willys Quad. Even today FIAT Jeep continues to mislead customers with half-truths and inaccuracies regarding the invention of the first Jeep.
In June 1940, with World War II on the horizon, as a result of months of lobbying by Charles ‘Harry’ Payne, the American Bantam® salesman who first came up with the idea of a jeep, the U.S. Army Quartermaster (QMC) solicited bids from 135 automakers for a 1/4 ton “light reconnaissance vehicle” tailored to Army QMC specifications.
American Bantam® Car Co. was the only car manufacturer to submit a complete bid. Willys-Overland wasn’t willing to deliver a prototype according to the schedule laid out by the Army QMC and Ford didn’t even bother submitting a bid. Willys and Ford weren’t really interested in the reconnaissance vehicle project until after American Bantam® delivered the first Jeep, the Bantam® Pilot, to Fort Holabird in Maryland.
The American Bantam® Pilot was truly a revolutionary vehicle weighing only 1,940 lbs. and built by American Bantam® in only 49 days yet rugged enough to withstand abuse by an Army QMC intent on driving (and flying) the Pilot to it’s breaking point. The Army marveled at the amazing jeep invented by American Bantam® and quickly realized they would need hundreds of thousands of these vehicles. The US Army QMC gave Willys and Ford blueprints of the Bantam® Pilot and gave them access to the vehicle to aid the design their prototype vehicles.
In November 1940 American Bantam® kicked off the first volume production run for jeeps with the manufacture of the BRC-60. The same month Willys-Overland finally delivered their prototype “Quad” to the U.S. Army; two months after American Bantam® delivered the first Jeep to the Army QMC. The Willys Quad copied the hood, grille, door shape and drivetrain design directly from American Bantam®, but the Willys Quad weighed 2,520 pounds, nearly 600 pounds (25%) heavier than the American Bantam® Pilot.
FIAT likes to boast that Willys cobbled together the Quad in a “remarkable 75 days”, especially remarkable because Willys copied the Pilot which American Bantam® invented and built from scratch in less time and without a copying competitor’s designs. The Army QMC rejected the Willys Quad because it was too heavy and sent Willys back to redesign and reduce weight from their American Bantam® Pilot copy. The second time around Willys again borrowed design features from both Ford and American Bantam®, including the flat grille FIAT jeeps are famous for today. Within a year’s time the three companies collectively produced the template for the vehicle known worldwide as the “Jeep” by improving the first vehicle conceived and invented by American Bantam®.
After World War 2 Willys-Overland used to brag that they created the Jeep. On April 27, 1948 the US government Federal Trade Commission issued a Cease and Desist Order against Willys-Overland prohibiting them from “Representing, directly or by implication, that Willys-Overland either acting alone or in cooperation or collaboration with the US Army or with any other agency or party, created or designed the automotive vehicle known as the Jeep.”
The notion that the Willys-Overland Quad was “The First Jeep Brand 4×4” is ludicrous: the first Jeep was invented by American Bantam®. The first vehicle to be called a Jeep was an American Bantam®. The first Jeep to go into battle during World War 2 was an American Bantam®. In 1940 the American Bantam® Jeep was in mass production while Willys would wait until 1941 before finally receiving a volume order to produce Jeeps.
There you go FIAT, we fixed it for you!
American Bantam® in WW2
American Bantam® began delivering the first mass production BRC-60 jeeps to the US Army on November 23, 1940. The American Bantam® BRC-60 was the first jeep to enter military combat, used by the British during a campaign in northern Africa. The British SAS relied on heavily armed jeeps in North Africa missions. While the first batch of BRC-60 jeeps was in production the US Army came back with a purchase order for 1,500 more jeeps.
After successfully delivering the BRC-60 the US Army increased the Jeep minimum weight specification to enable Ford and Willys to compete. American Bantam® strengthened their already rugged chassis design and the new jeep was designated the BRC-40. Production of the BRC-40 began on March 31, 1941 to fulfill the Army’s 1,500 jeep outstanding purchase order.
By December 6, 1941 American Bantam® had manufactured 2,605 BRC-40 jeeps for the US, China and Russian armies. The BRC-40 was the lightest and most nimble of the three competing models, and the Army lauded its suspension, brakes, and fuel economy. The American Bantam® BRC-40 jeep was preferred over the Willys and Fords by China and Russian militaries because of its light weight and better gas mileage.
During the summer of 1941 the Army QMC made the decision to award the Jeep manufacturing contract to Willys because their bid was $40 cheaper than the American Bantam. The president of American Bantam Francis Fenn went to Washington to testify in the Senate and protest the award of the contract to Willys. Fenn had been told by his contacts in the QMC that they had been ordered to award to contract to Willys-Overland by John D. Biggers, director of production in the Office of Production Management.
In the end the Army QMC awarded the contract to produce standardized jeeps to Willys-Overland. Many believe that when Henry Ford heard about this he twisted some arms and half the production was turned over to Ford. American Bantam® was issued a contract to produce amphibious trailers to be towed by Jeeps and other military vehicles. During the war American Bantam® produced 73,689 T3 trailers made its best effort to continue producing civilian trailers after the war.
After it became clear American Bantam® would not manufacture any jeeps for military production American Bantam® resumed their production of civilian vehicles to reduce their parts inventory. On August 18, 1943 the last American Bantam® rolled off the assembly line in Butler, Pennsylvania.
All together American Bantam® delivered 2,676 Bantam® jeeps leading up to the United States entry into WW2 in six different models:
- American Bantam® Pilot (1 units)
- American Bantam® BRC-60 (62 units)
- American Bantam® BRC-60 4-wheel steering (8 units)
- American Bantam® BRC-40 (1,500 units)
- American Bantam® BRC-40 4-wheel steering (62 units)
- American Bantam® BRC-40a (1,043 units)
The invention of the jeep was critical to the allies victory in WW2, both in Europe and in Asia. In the words of the Pulitzer Prize–winning war journalist Ernie Pyle: “It does everything. It goes everywhere. It’s as faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule and as agile as a goat. It constantly carries twice what it was designed for, and still keeps on going.”
After the World War 2
After the war when military procurement ended American Bantam® struggled to find a place in the civilian trailer market until it was absorbed by the Monroe Company, a division of Willys-Overland, in July, 1947. Willys’ directors assumed control stripping the Butler, Pennsylvania factory of valuable tooling and equipment and siphoning off profits, forcing the company to seek bankruptcy protection in 1950.
In 1946 James Brannan used his contacts within Ford to purchase the Gwinnett County Ford dealership and within 4 years Brannan Auto had built two dealerships in the Atlanta suburbs. In the early 1960s James Brannan sold the Ford dealerships and together with his son ‘Jimmy’ F. Brannan Jr. incorporated Brannan Auto Parts, Inc. The new company focused on aftermarket auto parts distribution, building up a chain of auto parts stores and under Jimmy Brannan’s leadership becoming a leading auto parts distributor in the southeast USA.
Charlie Paglee first started working for Brannan Auto in 1980 as a young teenager and in 1993 Mr. Paglee moved to China and began visiting factories and purchasing auto parts in China. Brannan Auto established an office in China in 2007 with Charlie Paglee as the China General Manager. Brannan Auto’s chain of auto parts stores in the USA was acquired by CarQuest in 2008 which is now part of the Advanced Auto group.
Brannan Auto expanded its China operations in 2010 opening offices in Shanghai and Beijing and in 2012 Charlie Paglee became the main shareholder of the company. Brannan Auto leveraged automotive engineering, manufacturing experience and knowledge of China’s off-road industry to become a leading supplier of automotive components for smaller OEM automobile manufacturers.
In 2013 Brannan Auto acquired the rights to American Bantam® brand and in 2015 Brannan Auto delivered its first off-road vehicle to a US customer but quickly realized a much more durable design was required. Brannan Auto began designing and engineering a new off-road vehicle in 2015 with an entirely new steel body and rugged chassis design focused on durability and performance. Brannan Auto produced a prototype vehicle in 2018 and after thorough testing determined it still needed a more durable chassis design and a stronger drivetrain.
In 2019 the new American Bantam Car Corporation was incorporated and immediately acquired Brannan Auto Parts, Inc. in the USA and Brannan Auto Engineering Co., Ltd. in China. The combined company has spent the last four years engineering, tooling, testing and validating the new vehicle design for durability and performance. American Bantam® will launch production of the American Bantam® vehicles in 2020.
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