Vintage Military Vehicles

Shopping for a vintage Sherman tank or a Jeep?

Do you have an interest in the military and militaria. There has always been an active interest in the collection of military vehicles – especially WWII Jeeps and the like, but interest is more acute now.

With the cessation of hostilities in 1945 there was a period of time when returning veterans, farmers and some categories of people were given the chance to purchase military surplus vehicles from the government – often at bargain basement prices. Most of these vehicles were used stateside (in bases usually) and never saw action.

The most popular vehicle (and probably the most plentiful) was the all purpose Jeep. Records from the time indicate that over 700,000 Jeeps were manufactured for the US military and the military forces of friendly foreign countries during the war years. Versions were built by Willys-Overland and Ford for the war effort could be found around the globe in every war front. There are a few early Bantams thrown in there as well. The Jeep had a Willys 2.2 litre 4-cylinder side valve engine, 80 inch wheelbase and 4X4.

The popularity of the military Jeeps prompted Willys to begin production of a civilian version, the CJ2 after the war. The CJ’s popularity has lasted to the present day, with Daimler-Chrysler still producing a very civilized version of this military workhorse. Most military collectors usually focus on the WWII vehicles but there is also interest in the modern M151A2 Multiple Utility Tactical Truck (MUTT), the military’s successor to the original Jeep. Vintage Jeeps can be purchased from the many private owners around the world. At one time the government may have been the largest supplier until post-war production of automobiles got back to speed to meet demand.

The Department of Defense still holds public auctions of military vehicles. However, in the 1970’s the US Department of Transportation ruled that the military jeep was not a road-worthy vehicle and imposed rules regarding the sale of them. You can still purchase them at auction (from $75 to $1,500 from what we hear). But before the purchaser can remove the vehicle it is stripped of military parts (weapons, communication gear), the body and frame cut into four pieces with a torch and flattened by a bulldozer (all at the purchaser’s expense). Then both axles are cut and the differentials returned to the government along with the radiator, oil pan and the gas tank (they are deemed hazardous materials). Finally you have to take your newly crushed vehicle home. Yes, you can put it all back together (there are thousands on the road to attest to the fact) but it hardly is the bargain it once was. If you are thinking ahead and thought about surplus HMMWV’s you are out of luck again as the government has a deal with the manufacturer to refurbish and upgrade older Hummvees. Furthermore the military version does not meet Department of Transportation safety standards as well.

Rules are different for trucks, so if you are interested in a hefty 2 1/2 ton M35 truck you would be able to drive that home – but remember everything is sold AS-IS so if it breaks down in the parking lot, that’s your problem.

If you are thinking of purchasing a WWII Jeep you should turn to the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA), a wonderful resource rich site devoted to military vehicle enthusiasts. It will give you the basics of this specialized area of vehicle collection.

Another site is Olive-Drab, an informative and interesting portal to other military sites on the web. Another good resource site.

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