So you want to own a Sherman tank?


Every year around June 6, the narrow backroads of Normandy in northwestern France start to resemble old photos from World War II. A column of jeeps, Dodge WCs, GMC deuce-and-a-halfs, and even the odd White scout car or gun-speckled half-track can be seen as European military vehicle enthusiasts descend on the storied D-Day beaches to commemorate a battle during which some 186,000 troops and 50,000 vehicles landed on France’s damp, foggy shoreline in a single day.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/04/12/how-to-own-a-military-vehicle


Excellent article obviously written by a historic military vehicle aficionado. Historic vehicle I mean, not historic aficionado! Yes the venerable jeep is the most popular because it can fit into a small space, they are the most numerous HMV, and frankly they are fun! Medium sized trucks like the 1940s and 50s Dodges used by the US Army and Air Force and the similar-sized but much more rare Internationals used by the WWII US Marine Corps and Navy will fit into a standard garage although the canvas top and bows and perhaps windshield frame might have to be lowered. Large trucks only suit certain people with the space plus skill to drive them, with the right drivers license depending on the state.

Tracked armor can be driven on the road if they have rubber track pads, unless a government has an issue with weight, or maybe just “an issue” with them. Tracked vehicles whether armored or not actually have a relatively low ground pressure. Sherman tanks might be over-width for public roads depending on the variant, and the postwar tanks certainly are. But these are in high demand for parades and displays. One attractive way to own an armored HMV and also be able to use it freely is buy wheeled armor, normally called an armored car. These were designed for protection plus high speed (a relative term in the HMV hobby!). The Scout Car built by White Motor Co. was a pre-WWII design that looked like a halftrack but with two axles and four wheels. During the war, Ford created the M8 Light Armored Car which is a tank-like vehicle (a hull, not a body-on-frame, with engine in the rear) but with three axles and six wheels. It had a two-man, open topped turret with a light cannon. They followed that with the M20 Armored Utility Car which was about the same but with an open fighting compartment instead of the turret, and a ring mount above it for a .50 Browning machine gun. I own one of these. It is a great parade vehicle with the open compartment for standing passengers, although you have to be a bit monkey-like to climb up and into it. I call it my “Tactical Hot Tub.” These will go over 50 mph - fast for 1940s and 50s military vehicles. The US military purchased no more armored cars between 1945 and the mid-1960s when Cadillac-Gage created the four wheeled V100 for convoy escort duty in Viet Nam. A more affordable armored car option is the British Ferret, a NATO-era four wheeler that can fit into a garage.

Here in California we have a higher percentage of WWII HMVs than east of the Mississippi. Easterners who travel to our events are very surprised at that. The fairly dry weather in California and the Southwest and the lack of corrosive road salt have been friendly to HMVs. Also there were many shipped to military depots in 1945 for transport west for the invasion of Japan and then the war ended earlier than expected. Many of these unneeded vehicles were sold into the large farming and ranching industry in California for use as work trucks. Jeeps were sold cheaply to veterans as utility vehicles and many became hunting or trail riding tools. By the 1960s and 70s these vehicles became less about utility and more about collectability and so a HMV restoration and collecting hobby began. My club, the Military Vehicle Collectors of California, started in the 1970s and is the largest regional cub in the U.S. We host a large rally and swap meet every April, attracting over 200 HMVs including trailers. The 2019 event will be in Plymouth, California. But as a comparison, the annual War and Peace Revival in Southern England attracts over 4,000!