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By Steve Turchet Apr 21, Militaria Dealers. By Military Trader Apr 19, By Military Trader Apr 15, Military Vehicles in the News. Design started in and testing and prototyping lasted through most of the fifties. Although the M mostly retained the same basic layout and dimensions of its predecessors, it was for all intents and purposes a completely new design.
Unlike previous jeep designs, whose structure consisted of a steel tub bolted onto a separate steel frame, the M utilized a monocoque design, which integrated the box frame rails into the sheet-steel body-structure. Eliminating the separate frame gave the M slightly more ground clearance, while at the same time lowering the center of gravity.
This process slightly enlarged the vehicle, making it roomier than previous jeep designs, while retaining the same light weight. Another area improved upon in the M was the suspension. Dispensing with the rigid live axles in the front and rear that all previous military jeeps used a layout still used on modern day Jeeps, such as the Jeep CJ and Wrangler , the M was instead equipped with independent suspension and coil springs.
This made it capable of high-speed, cross-country travel, while boasting high maneuverability and agility. The new suspension also had the added benefit of providing a more comfortable ride. Due to copyright and trademark issues, the M did not feature Jeep's distinctive seven vertical slot grille, instead, a horizontal grille was used.
Unlike some other military transports, such as the Humvee or Jeep, the M was never widely released into the civilian market. This was partly because it did not meet Federal highway safety standards for civilian vehicles, and also because of a series of early rollover accidents.
While these were often blamed on the independent suspension which played no small part , they were also due to driver errors, with operators unprepared for the increased performance compared to the Jeeps which it replaced. At high road speed, the rear suspension in a lightly loaded MUTT had a tendency to tuck under the vehicle during turns, causing it to roll.
The vehicle's tendency to roll over was reduced when there was weight in the rear, so drivers would often place an ammunition box filled with sand under the rear seat when no other load was being carried. The box could simply be emptied or abandoned when the extra weight was not needed.
The handling issues were eventually resolved by a redesign of the rear suspension, introduced in the MA2 model. However, due to liability concerns, the US Department of Defense deemed all M series vehicles "unsafe for public highway use", limiting their public use.
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