“Hitler sure made a mistake fighting us. Every kid from age 14 on knows how to drive a car or a truck. We are a nation on wheels!” (line in a movie from a US tank driver somewhere in France in 1944.)
As a kid I think I watched every World War 2 movie ever made (mostly produced in the 1950’s). Most were of the “B film” variety and had lame dialogue like the lines above that I vaguely remember. The movies also conveyed the overall message that the USA pretty much won the war all by itself.
This of course was nonsense since Britain and the Commonwealth countries had been fighting against Germany and Italy since 1939-40 and the US didn’t get into the war until late 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
American automotive productive production not only put own armies on wheels but also the Soviet Union in the Lend-Lease program. Consider these production figures:
During WW2 the US produced 108,410 tanks and 2,382,311 other motor vehicles. The Soviet Union produced 106,025 tanks and 197,100 other motor vehicles.
Russia today downplays the Allied contribution to their war effort but the facts below speak for themselves (and these facts say nothing about the enormous number of tanks and motor vehicles supplied to Soviet Russia by Britain and Canada.)
The US sent to the Soviet Union during WW2 44,000 jeeps, 375, 883 trucks, 8,071 tractors and 12,700 tanks. (lend lease to the Soviet Union)
All of it came from the US automotive industry.
In 1940 the US was still at peace and the ads and stories in Life Magazine reflected the calm before the storm to come. On October 23, 1939 Life Magazine ran a huge story on the City of Detroit-headline and first page pictured below. Detroit in 1940 and for many years after was the US powerhouse for the manufacture of cars and trucks. This went virtually unchallenged until the 1970’s when Japanese imports began to make their appearance in American markets.
Nevertheless, in 1940 Detroit was the king city of the automobile industry and the ads below reflect perhaps the last opportunity Americans would have to purchase a new car (until 1946 when domestic production resumed). The ads are all from the October 23, 1939 issue of Life Magazine.