So, you want to buy a Sherman tank

What you need to know
Publish date:

May 21, 2010

By Military Vehicle Staff

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Like any collectible vehicle, the price of an HMV is based on a combination of three factors: condition, rarity and popularity. A vehicle can be extremely uncommon but if it isn’t interesting, it won’t be as valuable as an equally uncommon, popular vehicle. Rarity is, of course, initially driven by production quantity and also by survivability and accessibility. The rarity of vehicles in this guide are rated on a scale of 1 through 5, with 1 being the most common and 5 being the scarcest.

But the single factor that drives price is, and will always be, condition. Not only does condition affect the price of a given vehicle, it also affects its collectibility. Another factor closely related is the quality of restoration.

A preserved vehicle is maintained in a “state of suspended animation.” All the flaws, scratches and rust that are present when the vehicle is “discovered” are preserved. While this style of collecting is more popular with vehicle enthusiasts overseas than in this country, it is commonplace in other areas of collecting such as furniture.

The term “restoration” is often ill defined or improperly used in the military vehicle hobby. Oftentimes what some call a restoration is actually a representation, and sadly, sometimes is only a characterization. For a true military vehicle restoration, one must know the history of that particular vehicle. Once known, it is then important to define what time frame the vehicle is to be restored to. This could be as it appeared as it left the factory, or at any subsequent time (June 6, 1944; March 3, 1952, etc.).

The difference between restoration and a representation is misunderstood. An example of this could be rebuilding, painting and marking a Jeep to look like one driven on the beach at Normandy, even though the Jeep you own never left North America. While not a true restoration, this type of representation is the most popular with collectors.

Buy the best you can afford. Restoring a vehicle will always be more expensive than buying a finished project.

Military Vehicles Magazine uses a given a value based on a 1-to-6 condition grading scale as follows:

1=Excellent: Restored to maximum professional standards, or a near-perfect original.

2=Fine: Well-restored, or a combination of superior restoration and excellent original parts.

3=Very Good: Complete and operable original or older restoration, or a very good amateur restoration with all presentable and serviceable parts inside and out.

4=Good: Functional or needing only minor work to be functional. Also, a deteriorated restoration or poor amateur restoration.

5=Restorable: Needs complete restoration of body, chassis, and interior. May or may not be running, but is not wrecked, weathered or stripped to the point of being useful only for parts.

6=Parts Vehicle: Deteriorated beyond the point of restoration.

M4A3 "Sherman" Medium Tank

One of the most popular vehicles for MV enthusiasts, but probably the least collected is the Sherman tank. Everyone says they want a Sherman tank—that is, until they see what one costs to buy and maintain. Nevertheless, just so you know what you are in for, here is a brief rundown of one of the most popularly exclaimed responses to the question, “What’s your dream-MV?”

The Sherman tank is remembered as the tank that won World War II for the United States and its allies. Even now, decades after the war, “Sherman Tank” is an instantly recognizable term with the general public.

But the term “Sherman” tank describes not one type of vehicle, but several distinctive variations. The M4 Sherman replaced the M3 Medium Tank. It is no surprise that the powerplants of many early U.S. tanks, including the M3 and M4 medium tanks, were based on aircraft engines. The variant of the Sherman that came to be “America’s tank” was the M4A3. The engine installed in the M4A3 was the Ford-designed and -built model GAA V-8 liquid-cooled gasoline engine.

Ford began production of the M4A3 in May 1942, although Ford’s production of the tank would be relatively short lived. (Ford M4A3 production ended in September 1943). M4A3 and variant production was continued by Fisher Tank Arsenal and Chrysler’s Detroit Tank Arsenal until eventually reaching a total of 12,596 units.

Condition Code: 6 5 4 3 2 1

Value (dollars): 
95,000 135,000 175,000 195,000 225,000 300,000

Rarity: 5

Weight: 66,700 pounds (fighting weight)

Size (LxWxH): 232.5” x 103” x 108”

Max Speed: 26 mph

Range: 130 miles

Other resources you may enjoy:

Military Vehicles Magazine 2008-2009 Compilation CD
Military Vehicle Restoration: How To's and Tech Tips