1942 GPA 4545

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  My 1944 MB


My GPA serial number GPA 4545 and called "The Amphib" is shown here parked in front of Pyramid No. 1 at Tikal, Guatemala in 1967-1968.


NOTE: This jeep has now been sold to a collector in the USA for restoration.

There is a puzzle in that the vehicle was registered under a GPA USA registration number 7012118 which is for a GPA made in March or April 1943 That USA registration number, mistakenly called "hood number" by many jeep collectors, MAY have been from one of the other jeeps in Levy's surplus yard (see details below under WAR SURPLUS). 

My Ford amphibious jeep model GPA was made on or about 22 December 1942, just before Christmas and has serial number GPA 4545. It would have looked like the one below.

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Canadian Army GPA in service just before D-Day 1944 being inspected by Prime Minister MacKenzie King, General Crerar etc. Probably with a Beach Commando for 3rd. Canadian Infantry Division. 
A photograph by a Canadian soldier taken in Northwest Europe circa 1944-1945. The driver appears to be wearing a US helmet so it is probably in US or French Army service.


The wartime service of mine is unknown. It MAY have served with the Canadian Army or the US Army. Canada used a few (3?) overseas and just over 30 in Canada, mainly at the Combined Operations School in Comox (Courtenay), British Columbia. 


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My GPA is the centre one of these three. As found by Lionel Forge in 1957.
GPA 4545 in Levy's surplus yard in 1957 as found.


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The fixed up GPA that sat out front of Levy's in Toronto. This is NOT mine.
Engine compartment of the fixed up Levy's GPA. This is NOT mine.

In 1957 it was sitting in a surplus yard in Weston (now part of Toronto), Ontario, Canada. Levy's had 4 GPAs. One fixed up and out front, and three junkers in the yard out back. 


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Private Lionel Forge, 13 Parachute Battalion, circa 1945. These uniforms are now in the collection of Steve Mackenzie in BC, Canada.

Lionel was born in 1925, and he served in 1945 as well as post-war as a British Paratrooper in 13th Parachute Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, 6th Airborne Division. He parachuted into Germany on Operation Varsity (across the Rhine on 24 March 1945 in a daylight combat drop and then his Division fought its way to Wismar on the Baltic in Germany where they met up with the Soviets. Lionel stayed in the British Army and served with the Paras in Palestine, Java and Singapore. 

Lionel emigrated to Canada and was living in the Toronto area, found the amphibious jeeps. He bought GPA 4545 for $300 and I have the original Bill of Sale. 

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Original Conditional Sales Contract, April 9, 1957 between Lionel Forge and Levy Auto Parts Co. Ltd.  of Weston (Toronto), Ontario, Canada.

He had the book HALF SAFE which is about a GPA that was modified for world travel and which was travelling around the world. Lionel decided to modify his GPA and travel as well. One key difference is that he did not plan to sail across oceans with his. 

Lionel did not give it an exotic name like some other well-known GPAs modified for world travel such as "Half Safe" (which travelled around the world) and "La Tortuga" (which travelled from northern Alaska to southernmost town in South America). He just called his "The Amphib". 

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GPA 4545 during the conversion process. 
Looking down into GPA 4545 in 1957 with the floorboards removed. 

Lionel was an aircraft sheet metal mechanic. He decided to modify his GPA for his travels. Unfortunately for me he removed and discarded many of the original fittings such as seats and windshield.

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He grafted a 1949 Dodge station wagon roof onto it. 

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c.1957  Lionel sitting on his GPA after the first round of modifications. 
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TIFF photo to be changed to JPEG
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GPA as modified sitting in Toronto?

In 1958 Lionel got a job working on what became a Canadian icon - the Avro Arrow jet fighter plane. Lionel told me that he helped make the air intakes. He drove "The Amphib" to work.

Later he worked for DeHavilland and his employee parking decal is still on the window. 

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Lionel swimming "The Amphib" on Lake Ontario in 1958
Lionel driving the GPA out of Lake Ontario lake about 1959. I found this flag staff and red ensign packed inside the GPA!
Vessel Licence 50E36411 dated Aug. 29, 1961 for this GPA.

In 1967 Lionel took "The Amphib" travelling. His intention was to write a book about his travels, but unfortunately he never did. He did take "The Amphib" from the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area and travelled down through the United States. He photographed "The Amphib" in front of the Alamo in Texas (famous last stand of Davey Crockett, Colonel Sam Houston and Jim Bowie). Lionel took "the Amphib" to every country in Central America, and even into Columbia. 

1967-04-19_p_3_Kitchener_Waterloo_Record_GPA.jpg (203570 bytes) 1967)04_22_Toronto_Daily_Star_Strangest_Car_p23_pt1.jpg (232992 bytes) 1967_04_22_Toronto_Daily_Star_Strangest_Car_p23_pt2.jpg (209000 bytes)
HE'LL SEE THE WORLD IN AMPHIBIOUS CAR - Kitchener-Waterloo Record Wednesday, April 19, 1967 p. 3 OUR STRANGEST CAR IS ON ITS WAY - Toronto Daily Star, Sat. April 22, 1967 p. 23 Part 1 OUR STRANGEST CAR IS ON ITS WAY - Toronto Daily Star, Sat. April 22, 1967 p. 23 Part 2


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Lionel Forge's "Business Card"
Entrance permit for GPA into Nicaragua for 5 days, 30 March, 1968
Tent set up on the roof of the GPA. 
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GPA4545 in front of Toronto's new City Hall in Ontario in 1967. Note new (1965) Canada flag flying on the left. 
GPA4545 in front of the Alamo in Texas. This is where the famous battle was fought between Santa Anna's Mexican troops and the Texans - Jim Bowie and Davy Crocket. c. 1967.
GPA4545 parked at the foot of Pyramid No. 1 at Tikal, Guatemala about Dec 1967.

His plan was to carry on down the East side of South America, ship "The Amphib" over to Africa by cargo ship, and then continue travelling throughout Africa, up through Europe and then to England where his mother was living. 

Unfortunately for him, the cargo ship was taken off the route while he was in central America, so Lionel reluctantly shipped "The Amphib to a friend's place in Florida for storage, and carried on with his travels without it.  

Later he changed the engine to a larger jeep engine which made the engine cover sit higher. 

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A photo of "The Amphib" in Steveston by Lionel. Lionel kept tinkering with it and modifying it. 
Inside the GPA, looking forward. Tarp is over the jeep, so the windshield is dark. Steering wheel is sitting inside spare tire. 
A scan of toy GPA that I acquired with "The Amphib" from Lionel. It is battery driven and has a working propeller and wheels!. The life ring on the roof is the activation switch!

I met Lionel in 1990, and he would never sell as he planed to take "the Amphib" as he called it, travelling again. Lionel kept "The Amphib" up on blocks and under a tarp. In the Fall of 1990, Lionel rebuilt the brake system. In 11 years of visiting him, I never once saw the whole GPA. In the later years he had the wheels off - probably because he had worked on the brakes. 

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1990 - When I first met Lionel and "The Amphib". Lionel lived in the boat that is up on blocks behind "the Amphib". This is as much as I got to see of "the Amphib" until I acquired it. 

In the Spring of 2001, I was unable to reach Lionel by phone and became worried. I called a friend of his who lived closer and he went down to the boat. He found Lionel dead. He apparently died suddenly while playing with his toy trains, and simply keeled over. 

My friend Steve MacKenzie, who had also become friends with Lionel over the years, and I assisted the family and attended the memorial service. Lionel's ashes were scattered on the Fraser River near where he loved to go for walks.  I was later able to acquire "The Amphib" from the family, and Steve acquired Lionel's Parachute Regiment uniforms etc. 

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A happy Neil Stevens at the wheel of "The Amphib"

We picked up "The Amphib" with my then 17-year old son Neil steering it onto the tilt-bed tow-truck and placed it in safe storage.

Luckily I obtained a thick photo album of pictures of this GPA from 1957 to recent years, as well as his passports, and travel documents, and a stack of old licence plates for the GPA. As a result, I can use these along with my notes from many meetings with Lionel, to reconstruct his travels with the GPA. I published a two-part article in CONVOY magazine in 2002. 


I also have his 2 boat licence plates 50E36411, and many licence plates for this GPA. In Canada at that time, one received a new licence plate number each year. These are very useful for dating photographs, and luckily Lionel Forge kept all of the following, and simply kept adding licence plates on top of the previous one! On the rear of the vehicle were 7 licence plates! For the front, there are the last three (1967, 1972, 1973). 

ALL ARE ONTARIO PLATES. He does not appear to have registered the Amphib in British Columbia

1957-1962 MISSING (from photographs I know that the licence plate numbers were as follows:

1957 46938-X MISSING

1958 10145-X MISSING

1959 56957-X MISSING


1963 X-44469

1964 X-29596

1965 13088-X

1966 4596-X



1972 55 63X

1973 HXU 570 (last registration)

Like "Half Safe",  "The Amphib" is UNIQUE. 


Photos taken June 2004. The Olive Drab paint is the correct WWII colour but this is just a cosmetic over-spray - it looks far better than the white and turquoise paint.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Right (starboard) side. 
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Front, high view.
Front, low view.
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Inside, driver's position.
Inside, instrument panel. No data plates, original round instruments replaced by single cluster panel from a civilian Willys.
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Spare tire carrier. Laid out on stern. 
Interior of rear of GPA. 
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Engine compartment, right (starboard) side. Larger post-war jeep engine.
Rudder and propeller.
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Capstan winch on forward deck.
GPA winch clutch mechanism. This bolts onto the upper front left corner of the engine. Pully connects it to power. 
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Forward deck showing vent open and one of 4 lifting rings (the starboard forward one is shown). Originally, muffler exhausted through hull (note capped opening in deck).
GPA marked radiator (viewed from rear, upper left (port side) corner. Letters GPA are raised. 
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Ford Script "F" pintle hook on this GPA.
Dash area of cockpit.

Photos of interior of GPA before the civilian changes were removed. http://bcoy1cpb.pacdat.net/interior.htm

Please also see my page on GPA jeeps in general at http://bcoy1cpb.pacdat.net/gpa.htm 

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Copyright Colin Stevens Updated: August 24, 2008
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