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“Jeep in the crate.” In our hobby, that one phrase causes more eyes to roll than Kelly’s Heroes’ Oddball declaring, “Always with the negative waves Moriarty, always with the negative waves.” 

Period photo from Life magazine with a WWII Jeep in a Crate. Attached is one of the ads that appeared in many magazines advertising these boxed wonders for only  $50.

It seems everyone has heard of them, many even claim to know someone who bought one, but nobody can actually provide evidence of ever having purchased a "WWII Jeep in a Crate" for $50. 

Yes, Jeeps were produced and packed this way for shipment to U.S. forces and countries like England and the Soviet Union. At the Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Richmond, California, about 70% of production was boxed due to their close proximity to the San Francisco port.

But not being one who wants to stir the negative waves, let me simply state: If WWII jeeps are still in the crate, they are sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic or Pacific. 

WWII photo of work crew with a Jeep-in-a-crate with a Christmas tag saying "Merry Christmas to the Boys in Service."

Nearly as legendary as Santa Claus, the Jeep-in-a-crate myth is just as resilient.

Period advertisement for military surplus, including Jeeps

This is the type of ad many looked at and dreamed of inexpensive military surplus including Jeeps, and apparently, a 19th century naval deck cannon, by the looks of the ad!

Okay, okay, so the “jeep in a crate” is a bit of an urban legend. Yes, jeeps were shipped in crates. Yes, those crates were warehoused. And yes, even some of them may have been sold after the end of WWII. 

But mention that you heard about a secret warehouse stacked with endless rows of Willys MBs or Ford GPWs and you won’t get a diehard military vehicle guy or a militaria collector to put down his McMuffin and look you in the eye. Most folks in the hobby recognize that the “jeep in a crate” is more myth than fact. 

The WWII Jeep in a Crate is a Unicorn — or even a Big Foot!. Everyone has a story about seeing or hearing about one, but no one can just present hard evidence an original, crated WWII Jeep being sold for $50.  In fact, there has been a long-standing reward offered for concrete evidences of a unassembled, direct-from-the-factory Jeep in a crate that was sold as surplus for $50. To date, no one has been able to claim the $10,000 reward.  

John Bircheffe's  M151A2 "MUTT" in crate

Not a WWII Jeep, but John Bircheffe does have a M151A2 "MUTT" in crate!

However, the 21st Century does offer a new version of this story—and this one is more reality than urban legend. For years, the U.S. military has been selling big trucks—2½-ton “deuces” and 5-ton cargo trucks—for a fraction of what the trucks originally cost. Today, someone wanting an “army truck” can search the government auctions and, for a couple of grand, come away with a heck of a deal.

For example, at Iron Planet  auctions, a drivable  M939 series 5-ton 6x6 cargo truck  sell for as little as $10,800. The U.S. government paid more than $80,000 in 1985 for each of these! Maybe a 5-ton is a bit bigger than a jeep, but that is a lot of truck for the money! 

M38A1 Jeep in a crate.

Still not a WWII jeep, this is an M38A1 in a crate. 

Not a Jeep either. These workmen are crating a WC-63 for shipment from the Lima Tank Depot. 

Not a Jeep either. These workmen are crating a WC-63 for shipment from the Lima Tank Depot. 

All that said, don’t let me deter anyone from looking through those warehouses for crates of military surplus. It’s still out there. 

Wait! Here is a WWII Jeep in a crate! Well, it is a reconstruction of one.

Wait!  Here is a WWII Jeep in a crate!  Well, it is a reconstruction of one. 

Keep chasing those unicorns and opening those crates...if you find some goodies that have been forgotten to history, drop me an email. We all love those “jeep (or any other militaria) in a crate” stories!

WII Jeeps being assembled in the field--fresh out of their CRATES!

Okay, I will stop playing...Here are some WWII Jeeps being assembled in the field--fresh out of their CRATES!

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*Visit and Enter our 2021 ONLINE Military Vehicle Show

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*Calendar of historic military vehicle shows, rallies, and convoys

*As an Amazon Associate, Military Trader / Military Vehicles earns from qualifying purchases.

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