Buying and enjoying your very own historic military vehicle is easier than you think. This will answer some of your questions.
Can anyone own and drive an old military vehicle?
Sure! If you are licensed to drive an automobile on the road, you can purchase and use a historic military vehicle. There are no special licenses or permits required!
What kind of vehicles are there?
The sky’s the limit! If the military drove it, someone has probably restored it. Jeeps and trucks are the most common vehicles, but if you have the money and space, tanks are available as well as heavy, specialized engineering vehicles.
Okay, so what are some typical prices?
You can buy a turnkey, ready-to-drive Jeep from the Korean or Vietnam War time frame for about $10,000. WWII Jeeps will run a bit higher, around $14,500-$17,000. On the other hand, 3/4-ton Dodge “M37” 4x4s (the military version of the Dodge Power Wagon) can be found, ready-to-drive, for about $10,000-$12,000. Later Dodge or Chevrolet “CUCVs” (militarized pickups and blazers) sell for around $5,500-$8,000. Basically, a good historic military vehicle isn’t going to cost you much more than a second car or pickup.
Is it cheaper to find a “fixer-upper”?
That depends on how much “fixing up” a vehicle needs. But generally, don’t look for a “jeep in the barn” to restore unless you love restoring vehicles. It is almost always cheaper to buy a finished vehicle than it is to do a ground-up restoration.
Will the state license my vehicle?
That varies from state to state, but a good guideline to follow is: If the seller doesn’t have the title for the vehicle, you are better off walking away. It can be a lot of hassle to title an untitled vehicle. You will be out driving and having fun a lot quicker if you buy a vehicle that has already been titled. If in doubt, contact your state’s DMV before you handed over the cash!
Are old army trucks “street legal?”
In most cases, “yes.” If you plan to use it for commercial purposes, however, that is a whole different ballgame. Again, check with your state’s DMV before you purchase a truck to use for your business. But if you just intend to drive it in parades, around town, or on the trails, most states are very receptive to private ownership of historic military vehicles.
What about insurance?
Check with your provider, but usually, if you store your vehicle in a garage, insurance is not a problem. It is more difficult, though, to insure a that is kept vehicle out of doors. Before you buy that massive 10-ton cargo truck, you might want to be sure you can insure it!
What special skills do I need?
Most historic military vehicles are equipped with standard transmissions. Unless you are buying a CUCV, HMMWV (“Hummer”) or a GMC M135/211, you better know how to drive a manual! Basically, if you can handle a car or pickup, you should be able to hand most military vehicles up to a ton-and-a-half. Larger trucks require a bit more awareness of turning radius and visibility issues.
Where can I get more info?
Your best source for finding a vehicle, parts, and others in the hobby is Military Vehicles Magazine. It’s available at Barnes and Noble, or log onto www.MilitaryVehiclesMagazine.com.
Another excellent source is joining the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. Based in the U.S., it is an international club dedicated to serving all who love to own and drive historic military vehicles. Log onto www.MVPA.org for info.