Military vehicles are popular cars for restoration projects, history buffs, and collectors. Each of these vehicles tells a story, and for many, these stories give the vehicles value. If this might be something that interests you, check out a few of the military vehicles that civilians are permitted to own.
This absolute beast of a machine is a variation of the classic Humvee design. As the Department of Defense begins to look for a replacement for those older vehicles, the Oshkosh Corporation in Wisconsin put together the Oshkosh L-ATV for their consideration. It sports a 6.6 liter Duramax engine and a 6-speed Allison engine, so you can haul just about anything anywhere quickly. While the armor isn’t available for civilian owners, the technology underneath sets this apart from almost any car on the road.
One of the most iconic and desired military vehicles of all time is the Willys M38, which served on the frontlines for nearly two decades across multiple conflicts. Its sleek, classic design has long been attractive to collectors. The engine inside of it was popular in nearly a dozen different military vehicles at the time. All of these factors combined have led to the Willys M38 becoming one of the most popular military vehicles that civilians are permitted to own. These vehicles have a rich history any collector or history buff will appreciate.
Dodge WC-54 Ambulance
For most of the United States’ involvement in World War II, this was the standard ambulance used to transport wounded soldiers. Medics saved many lives, and many perished in the backs of these vehicles, giving them a storied history. Under the hood is a Dodge T214 6-cylinder engine, which allowed the nearly three-ton vehicle to move at a then-brisk speed of fifty-five miles per hour. There were over 23,000 of these models made, so while they’re not incredibly common, you can find one for sale if you know where to look and do a little digging. If you can track one down, expect a decently maintained one to go for over $20,000.
Patton M47 Medium Battle Tank
Yes, you read that right. The Patton M47 is the third vehicle in a series of tanks named after famed the general George S. Patton, commander of the Third U.S. Army during World War II. Many of these were sold to foreign allies after they were never used by the U.S. in combat. Designed and deployed during the early days of the Cold War—which luckily never escalated into full-on war—these vehicles may not be for every collector. A May 2019 auction saw one in pristine condition go for over $320,000. Good luck finding one if you can afford it, though, as the M48 replaced this model within a year and a half, meaning there are less than 9,000 ever manufactured.
Whiskey Class Submarine
Maybe the most surprising entry on this list is the Whiskey Class Submarine. It’s nearly 250 feet long and well over 2,000,000 pounds. Manufacturing took place during the Cold War by the Soviet Union and presented an immense threat to the U.S. If it sounds like one of these might be hard to track down, you’d be right; there were less than 250 units made between 1951 and 1957. The scarcity combined with the massive scale means that the cheapest you could find one for is going to be a cool $500,000. This probably isn’t an option for anybody, realistically. The opportunity is there if you’ve got half a million dollars laying around, though, as well as access to a large body of water and an assortment of permits and licenses.
Kaiser Jeep M715
Another popular choice among both military and car collectors, the M715 replaced the M37 by providing more power and hauling capacity. At first, many military personnel were sad to see the classic M37 phased out, but once they got behind the wheel of the M715, many of those complaints were put to rest. This was the rare sequel that was actually better than the original. Despite its original lackluster reception, appreciation for it only increased throughout the years. Today, it’s now a classic in its own right. Kaiser jeep parts can be found easily right here at Army Jeep Parts.
Polaris MV 850
While Polaris is more known for the recreational vehicles in which they specialize, the MV 850 takes the basics of the four-wheeler and cranks it up for military use. Though you can’t find this in military surplus yet, you can buy directly from the manufacturer. These incredible machines sport 850cc engines capable of hauling six hundred pounds in addition to their state-of-the-art armor plating and bullet-resistant tires, which can withstand small arms fire. It also features adjustable lighting that can couple with night-vision equipment. While this looks like it could be any random ATV at first glance, it’s a truly impressive piece of machinery.
DUKW (the Duck)
Contrary to popular belief, the Duck does not get its name from the amphibious bird. It’s an abbreviation used by General Motors to classify their vehicles. (“D” means 1942, the “U” stands for utility, “K” means all-wheel drive, and “W” means two-powered rear axles.) The Duck is a vehicle that operates on land as well as water, transitioning seamlessly between the two terrains. This vehicle can drive like a car straight into any body of water and then function as a boat. These are well-known even outside of the military and car collecting communities, as they have become tourist attractions all across the country, probably most famously in the Wisconsin Dells. If you live near a large body of water that’s popular among tourists, see if you can get yourself on a Duck to see what they’re all about! If you decide you need one for yourself, they’re commonly found on auction and collectors’ sites for low five-figures.
If you’re a military collector looking for the Holy Grail of your collection or a car collector looking to add a unique piece to your fleet, you can’t go wrong with any of the vehicles above. And if you end up grabbing either of the Jeeps, remember to make your way back to this site to find a plethora of parts, tips, and tricks. Army Jeep Parts is available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST from Monday to Friday for any questions you might have.