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Buying Jeeps & HMMWVs at Government Surplus Auctions

The first thing that many people think of when told that they can buy surplus vehicles from the U.S. Government is that they want to buy a jeep or maybe a HMMWV (Hummvee). Unfortunately those are the two vehicles you are least likely to be able to purchase direct. This page tells the story of why jeeps and HMMWVs are a special case and where you can go to buy the vehicles you are interested in owning.

Wrecked M-151 Jeep for sale at Government auction. Under current regulations, the few jeeps that are sold must be turned into scrap
Wrecked M-151 Jeep for sale at Government auction. Under current regulations, the few jeeps that are sold must be turned into scrap.

World War II or Korean War Jeeps

If you want to buy a World War II or Korean War jeep, forget government auctions. All those jeeps have been gone from military inventory for many years. State and local governments have few if any left. If your interest is only in older vintage jeeps, they are available but you will have to buy from a dealer or private party.

Today in WW II: 31 Aug 1944 Major fighting ends in New Guinea after Australian and US forces complete a series of successful engagements against the Japanese.   

M-151 Jeeps or HMMWVs

Military vehicles purchased through Government auctions are subject to a "de-mil" requirement (referring to demilitarization). This means that you have to remove certain parts (such as weapons, communications gear) or, in the case of M151 jeeps or HMMWVs, you have to destroy the vehicle. That's right, you have to totally crush and destroy a perfectly good vehicle before the resulting scrap pile can be removed from Government property. The full de-mil documentation is on this US Military web site and a quick reference to the codes can be found on the Government Liquidation.com web site. See the Sales Event Details topic on the Help page.

Here is what the US Government has to say about surplus jeeps on a DRMS website:

DoD does not sell the M-151 series of vehicles commonly referred to as jeeps. The Department of Transportation has ruled that jeeps are built for off road use and could be unsafe at high speed. Therefore, for public safety, we render them inoperable prior to sale (i.e., cut or crush the unitized body and suspension system). All M151 series vehicles, including jeeps, are unsafe for public highway use. These vehicles are made unusable by removing major components and destroying the unitized body so it cannot be rebuilt. False stories often advise that jeeps are available for unusually low prices. Such stories should be brought to the attention of the DRMS Public Affairs Office, ATTN: DRMS-DB, 74 N. Washington St., Federal Center, Battle Creek, MI 49017-3092.

Making the same point, this is from a GSA website:

You will not drive away from a Federal Government sale with a military jeep. In 1971, based on safety statistics and vehicle tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended that the M151 series vehicle not be sold to the public because it is unfit for public use. Therefore, M151 series jeeps cannot be driven. Disposal regulations on the M151 require that the vehicle body be crushed, shredded, or mutilated to prevent the jeep from being rebuilt. Businesses that sell the "secrets" of buying surplus military property often take out enticing magazine and newspaper ads. "Just send $19.95 and learn how to buy surplus military jeeps," they say. However, these advertisements do not tell the consumer that the M151 series is unfit for public use and that older jeep models, such as the World War II M38, are virtually nonexistent today. Jeeps are now typically auctioned at sales for scrap metal or parts.

And here is what they have to say about HMMWVs:

Currently, DoD has a rebuild contract with the manufacturer to upgrade and refurbish used Humvees for further DoD use. Humvees that are not suitable for the rebuild program are little more than residue. The military version of the Humvee does not meet DoT safety standards and is not now sold.

Bottom Line on Jeeps and HMMWVs

You are not going to buy one from the U.S. Government. However, some have gotten into the commercial market and you can buy them from dealers or a private party using the information on Olive-Drab.com. There is much more on Olive-Drab.com about the M-151 jeep or the HMMWV.

Go to this Olive-Drab.com page for more info on the pitfalls of surplus jeeps at government auctions, and the myth of the $50 jeep in a crate.

Adding armor to High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle HMMWVs.  U.S. Army TACOM Ground Systems Industrial Enterprise (GSIE) HMMWV Armor Survivability Kits are installed at Camp Udairi, Kuwait, located about 10 miles outside Iraq, April 2004.
Adding armor to HMMWVs. U.S. Army TACOM Ground Systems Industrial Enterprise (GSIE) HMMWV Armor Survivability Kits are installed at Camp Udairi, Kuwait, located about 10 miles outside Iraq, April 2004. See Up-Armored HMMWVs for more information.

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