Grass Hopper (1971)
 

 
  The Grass Hopper is a Jeep-inspired concept vehicle designed by Larry Wood. It was produced for
the 1971 Hot Wheels line, a year in which 35 new castings were introduced.

The Jeep has a tremendous history, but it is basically recognized as the first lightweight off-road
4 × 4 vehicle specifically designed for military use in WWII and was eventually produced for the
public.  In fact, the Jeep was used by the military as their primary lightweight off-road 4x4 vehicle
until the early 80s. (It was replaced by the Hummer.) As far as the origin of the name Jeep, it first
appeared in a Popeye comic strip in 1936 as "Eugene the Jeep", an animal-like character capable of
doing most anything --- which in a way parallels the off-road capabilities of the vehicle. However,
others argue that the word Jeep comes from slurring the acronym "GP" which stood for general purpose vehicle.
Regardless of the origin, Willys eventually won a lengthy trademark battle with the American Bantam
Car Company, the producers of the original prototype for the Army, for the name Jeep (1950). Since
1950, with company buyouts and mergers, ownership of the trademark passed through several
companies.  Daimler Chrysler now has ownership.



The Grass Hopper casting has a metal chassis and two exposed engines, one in the front and one
in the bed of the vehicle. A removable white plastic canopy hides the rear engine as well as the black
interior that features two bucket seats, a steering wheel, and a small stick shift protruding from the
center of the floorboard. The windshield is a gray-tinted plastic single piece on which the front
underside of the white plastic canopy rests. One of the most attractive features of this casting is the
assortment of items that are attached to the body of the Jeep: a shovel, pick, canteen, spare gas
tank, etc.  The Grass Hopper was made at the U.S. plant only.


A beautiful pair of Grass Hoppers in salmon and purple (with the top removed).

Variations of the Grass Hopper casting appeared in the Flying Colors line in 1974 and 1975. Also,
another variation, the Gun Slinger a U.S. Army Jeep with a gun mounted in the bed appeared in
the 1975, '76 and '77 lines. (Note: The 1977 version has blackwall wheels.)


Flying Colors Grass Hoppers and Gun Slingers.


Color Chart

US COLORS:
COMMENTS:
light (apple) green
very common
magenta
very common
purple
common
rose
common
yellow
common
blue
common
salmon
common
red
common
green (emerald)
common
aqua
uncommon
hot pink
uncommon
light (ice) blue
hard to find
olive
rare if it exists
brown
rare if it exists

Note: several "olive" Grass Hoppers were actually determined to be toned yellow. A true olive is rumored to exist.


Steve Grim's beautiful light blue Grass Hopper BP!
 



Photo & info credits: Michael Ratliff




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