In 1951 Ford Motor
Company gained the contract to design a
1/4 ton 4x4 Military Utility Tactical
Truck (hence MUTT) to replace
the Korean War jeeps, the M38 and M38A1.
The M151 'MUTT' was developed with
guidance from the US Army's Ordnance
Truck Automotive Command. Design work
began in 1951 and testing and
prototyping lasted through most of the
Although it looks much like its
predecessors, has the same basic layout
and roughly the same dimensions, the
M151 actually was a completely new
design. Just like jeeps before it, it
provides space for four men (including
the driver) and some equipment. However
- unlike previous jeeps with their steel
tub bolted onto a separate steel frame -
this vehicle had a unitized monocoque
that was created by integrating the box
frame rails into the sheet-steel
body-structure. Eliminating the separate
frame gave the M151 slightly more ground
clearance, while at the same time
lowering the center of gravity. Also it
was a little longer, wider and roomier
than previous jeeps while retaining the
same light weight.
The second big technological departure
came in the area of the suspension
design. Unlike having rigid live axles
front and rear as was customary. The
M151 was equipped with independent
suspension with coil springs all around.
This made it capable of high-speed,
cross-country travel with high
maneuverability and agility while at the
same time providing a more comfortable
Third, this jeep didn't need to be
designed in such a hurry as the wartime
original, so this gave technicians the
time to engineer it such that all
maintenance and basic repairs could be
done with a minimal tool kit under field
operating conditions. It is said that
you can fix anything on it with a
straight and Phillips screwdriver, a 1/2
inch open/box end wrench and some wire.
Due to Willys Motors owning the trademark on it, the M151 could not have the Jeep's seven vertical slot grille, so instead it has horizontal ones. Although the M151 was developed and initially produced by Ford, production contracts for the M151A2 were later also awarded to Kaiser Jeep and AM General Corp.
First put into service in Vietnam, the MUTT played an active part in American military operations well into the 1980's, when it was phased out in favor of the Humvee. Nevertheless the M151 had some distinct advantages over its much larger and heavier successor, like being small enough to fit inside a C-130 cargo plane or CH-53 heavy transport helicopter, and narrow enough to traverse areas too tight for the HMMWV. Reasons why the US Marine Corps kept deploying M151 FAV (Fast Attack Vehicle) variants through 1999 ( e.g. Kosovo with USMC, 3/8 BLT, 26 MEU). According to some it is still used in very small numbers by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Various models of the M-151 have seen successful military service in 15 different NATO countries and M151s were sold to many countries, including Canada, Denmark, Lebanon, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
It was not sold on the civilian market because of different safety regulations for civilian vehicles, but mostly because of its dangerous on-road handling characteristics, that is, a tendency to roll over under fast cornering. The US Department of Defense deemed all M151 series vehicles "unsafe for public highway use". Therefore write-offs have consistently been rendered unusable by destroying the body of the vehicle before releasing the parts to the public.
(1960) - Initial version. Because of
its rear suspension design it had a
dangerous tendency to flip over when
cornered too aggressively by unaware
drivers. The swing-axle rear
suspension lay-out (comparable with
that of the VW Beetle) could result
in big rear wheel camber changes,
causing drastic oversteer and a
- M718 - Front-line ambulance variant.
(1964) - Second version: minor
changes in the rear suspension,
mostly aimed at allowing the vehicle
to carry heavier loads. Addition of
turn signals to front fenders. The
essentials of the rear suspension
remained unchanged and the same
applies to the handling problems in
- M151A1C - The M151A1C equipped with a 106 mm recoilless rifle on a pedestal-mount. Capable of carrying six rounds of ammunition and weapon tools. Including the driver, it provides space for two men and has a cruising range of 442 km or 275 miles.
- M151A1D - Tactical nuclear variant.
- M718A1 - Front-line ambulance variant.
(1970) - The A2 fielded a
significantly revised rear
suspension that greatly improved
safety in fast cornering. The MUTT
now had Semi-trailing arm suspension
comparable to what most late
eighties premium German cars had.
Many smaller upgrades including
improved turn signals.
- M151A2 FAV - Fast Assault Vehicle variant.
- M151A2 TOW - tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided [TOW] anti-tank missile variant.
- M825 - 106 mm Recoilless Rifle variant.
- M1051 - Firefighting variant which saw exclusive use by the Marine Corps.
- MRC108 - Forward Air Control variant.