So, you want to buy a WW2 Sherman tank - Military Trader/Vehicles

So, you want to buy a Sherman tank?

Before you purchase a WWII M4 Tank, you should consider this
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M4A3 Sherman with an M5 High Speed Tractor pulling a 105mm howitzer.

Everyone says they want to buy a tank -- but is it possible? This article will point out some things you should consider before writing the check.

M4A3 "Sherman" Medium Tank

One of the most popular vehicles for historic military vehicle ("HMV") 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-HMV?”

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.

M4 Sherman with later turret and High Volute Suspension

With a wide variety of armament, suspension systems, turret and hull designs, and other details, there are many different models of "Sherman Tanks." Make sure you know exactly what your are buying. 

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 power plants 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.

BASIC SPECS

Weight: 66,700 pounds (fighting weight)
Size (LxWxH): 232.5” x 103” x 108”
Max Speed: 26 mph
Range: 130 miles

CONDITION & RARITY

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.

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. Survivability and accessibility also impacts rarity. 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.

Popularity is harder to measure. Basically, if a vehicle was "popular" during its time of service, it will have a strong nostalgic pull with later generations.  Jeeps are "popular" because so many soldiers interacted with them. CCKW ponton carriers, while scarce, are not as "popular" because fewer soldiers had direct experience with them. 

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. Often, what some call a "restoration" is actually a "representation," and sadly, sometimes 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.

PRICE GUIDE (updated September 2020):

Condition / Value (US$)

Chart showing M4 values updated September 2020

Values updated September 2020

You might also like:

*MV Spotlight: M4A3 Sherman Tank

*Why did I buy a tank? 

*WWII Photo Unravelled: 754th Tank Bn.

*A Tank Mystery Solved

Cover of the 2020 Bonus issue of Military Vehicles Magazine

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