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How it Works: Government Surplus Military Vehicle Auctions
All military vehicles, with a few exceptions, are first owned by the Federal government. That is, the Government has the vehicles built by industry in the first place, then uses the vehicles for some number of years, and finally disposes of them through auctions. Surplus auctions, conducted by the Federal Government as well as state and local jurisdictions, are the original source of most military vehicles. Almost all of the privately owned vehicles went this route at one time in their lives.
This page is about how to buy military vehicles through the government surplus auction system. If you are looking for how to buy parts for surplus vehicles from dealers, go to the linked Olive-Drab.com page. Or, visit the Military Vehicle Ownership Guide. For a complete overview of the Olive-Drab.com website, you can go to the Olive-Drab.com Home Page or the Olive-Drab.com Directory.
Where do Surplus Military Vehicles Come From?
While almost all military vehicles start life in the government and enter the private market through surplus auctions, conducted by the Federal Government, there are a few exceptions. Occasionally a prototype unit (or several) is built for the military, but is not actually purchased by them. Such prototypes are sometimes later sold off by the companies and enter the private sector. Another exception is stolen vehicles which disappear before being delivered to the government (or from government facilities). And finally there are some vehicles which are built up from parts and never had an original identity in the government. Once these exceptional units enter the private market, their origin may not be verifiable. CAUTION: buying a stolen military vehicle is the same as throwing your money away and could land you in serious trouble. If the origin of any vehicle is suspicious, walk away.
Exceptions aside, government surplus sales are the door through which most military vehicles travelled. For vehicles originally manufactured for the Federal Government, which includes all military vehicles, many were given away to state and local governments, non-military departments, or private non-profit organizations such as Red Cross or Boy Scouts, as explained on this Olive-Drab page on donations of vehicles and other Government property to non-profit organizations.
Depending what vehicle type you are interested in, Fovernment auctions may or may not be of current interest to you. For example, if you want to buy a World War II jeep, forget government auctions. All those jeeps have been gone from inventory for many years. Even state and local governments have a rare few if any left. However, if you are interested in military Blazers (M-1009) or the Dodge pick-ups of the 1980s (M-880) or even some older units like the Dodge M-37 built in the 1950s and 1960s, these do still come up for auctions. Also found in many current auctions is the 2 1/2 ton M35 models which are really hefty trucks often sold surplus in surprisingly good condition. You can find trailers and tons of parts and equipment, plus every other kind of gear used by the military.
How to Get Started Buying from Military Auctions
There is absolutely no big deal about buying at Government auctions, and is even easier now that Government Liquidation.com conducts ebay-style Internet auctions of most lots sold. You can actually get some really good bargains. But that is not the whole story. Here is the rest of what you need to know:
This CUCV at the U.S. Navy Submarine Base in Groton, CT may or may not be repairable. Only a careful on-site inspection will reveal everything you need to know, whether its good for a few salvagable parts or maybe it could be restored to a good looking, good running truck.