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Let's stick together and keep rolling


I have been wondering about how our hobby will change in the
new year. It took some time, but by the end of 2009, the faltering economy
caught up with militaria and military vehicle collectors. This was good for
those who were in a position to continue pursuing their hobby, but it made
dealers scramble to come up with ways to bolster their sales. I was impressed
with a number of businesses that posted sales on their web sites, had special
reduced shipping charges or other incentives to keep customers buying.

It is no secret that during these economic downturns,
bargains are to be had. In my own collecting, I have benefited from other
collectors deciding to downsize and turn loose of items I have coveted for many
years. Just recently, I was fortunate to buy a significant collection of WWI
photos of various allied soldiers. It was a big investment, but I recognized
that the opportunity may not come again anytime soon.

Sales and liquidations aside, though, what trends can be
seen in the hobby? First, and foremost, I have seen movement in the historic
military vehicle arena that will allow many to drive something big and green
for a very reasonable investment.

What’s the future for military vehicles?

2008 and 2009 were tough years on MV owners...first the gas
prices jumped to highs never imagined, and then the economy faltered. Folks who
had a lot of money tied up in heavy iron considered down-sizing their
collections. All of a sudden, a lot of WWII jeeps, post-WWII deuces, larger
trucks and even tracked vehicles hit the market. As was to be expected, the
early offers of vehicles for sale were at the “price invested” or even more.
But the customers didn’t step up to make the purchase. The OD bubble was about
to burst.

Looking through the classifieds in Military Vehicles this evening (Click here to see the classifieds online]), I saw some real obvious trends: The prices of WWII
jeeps has dropped from an average high of $12,000-15,000 for a fully restored
post-1942 MB or GPW in 2007 to around $10,000-$12,000 today. Furthermore—and
still the best value in the MV market—M35 series deuce-and-halves can be had
for $4,500 and up today. This is about $1,000 cheaper than they were selling
just two years ago!

How will this affect the hobby? It should be great...folks
who have always wanted to own a historic military vehicle have some great
buying power. This will bring new people into the hobby, who of course, will
need parts, manuals, equipment and gear to go with their new vehicles.

But what about the guys who were forced to sell their
vehicles at a price lower than they had invested, due to the economic crunch? I
don’t think they are leaving the hobby, but hopefully, are refocusing their
interests. MV guys are some of the nicest and most caring in the hobby, and I
will bet if one collector falls on hard times, he has a buddy or two who will
be more than happy to welcome his comrade into the garage to pull wrenches, go
on a trail ride or drive an extra vehicle in a parade.

So whatever your current economic state of affairs might be,
the MV hobby is large and friendly. If you know someone who is downsizing their
collections, be sure to share your enthusiasm with them and let them know they
are still welcome at rallies, club meetings and road events. Just because they
may have sold their jeep or deuce doesn’t diminish the value they lend to the
hobby. Let’s stick together to keep keep these historic military vehicles
rolling as a tribute to the veterans who originally relied on them.

John Adams-Graf

Editor, Military Trader and
Military Vehicles

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