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Buying Military HMMWVs

Unlike the WW II jeeps which were sold as surplus to the general public by the U.S. Government, the policy regarding the HMMWV has put them mostly off-limits to civilians. The reasons for this policy are not completely clear. Officially, the problem is DOT. The US Department of Transportation has a lot of requirements for what a civilian motor vehicle has to be and the HMMWV (military model) does not meet them. Things like doors with side-impact protection (basic HMMWV has just a web strap), lighting (military lighting falls short), and padded impact-absorbing dashboard (Army issues bare metal).

M2 .50 cal. machine gun equipped, up-armored HMMWV and Marines assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Security Battalion conduct a perimeter patrol around Al Asad, Al Anbar, Iraq, 2 December 2004
Marines with their M2 .50 cal. machine gun equipped, up-armored HMMWV assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Security Battalion conduct a perimeter patrol around Al Asad, Al Anbar, Iraq, 2 December 2004.

Today in WW II: 24 Apr 1945 Retreating German troops in Italy destroy all the bridges over the Adige in Verona, including the historical Ponte di Castelvecchio and Ponte Pietra.   

Military HMMWV Sales Policy: Just Say NO!

Truck, Ambulance, 1 1/4 ton, 4x4 (HMMWV with Ambulance body) Model M-997
Truck, Ambulance, 1 1/4 ton, 4x4 (HMMWV with Ambulance body) Model M-997.

The DOT requirments plus a fear of lawsuits and maybe other factors have put the HMMWV on the "look but don't touch" list.

Here is the official word from the DRMS web site:

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.

So AM General can sell the dumbed-down Hummer (civilian version) for big bucks because it has been DOT certified, but you are not permitted to purchase an Army HMMWV for your own. Sorry.

The MVPA has worked long and hard to try to get to the bottom of this policy on behalf of all of us. It is impossible to get anyone in the Government to stand up and say exactly why this policy is what it is. It is probably more than just DOT. Some suspect dark conspiracies by AM General (don't compete with the Hummer) or with those who want to keep Americans disarmed. Or it just may be the bureaucrats are afraid of lawsuits -- when someone falls out of a HMMWV sold at a Government auction, first call is to a lawyer. Bottom line: current US DoD policy forbids sale of HMMWVs via the surplus property program other than as scrap.

HMMWV Wreck at Property Disposal yard

Now HMMWVs do come to the Property Disposal yard for sale. They are usually in such bad shape that no one in the service or any other agency can think of any use for it. Maybe it is wrecked as the one to the left, courtesy of Maj. Jim Rice (notice the rear end seems to be missing). Maybe its worn out in too many places and, as they say, "not economically repairable." They make sure of that as explained in the section on Government auctions. They cut it, crush it, and kill it dead. You cannot put it back in shape -- if you could, then that's illegal and you would have to destroy it again if caught.

Military HMMWVs Are Available After All

HMMWV Advertisement

OK, enough bad news. The good news is that, despite all I said above, some HMMWVs do get out. Let me say right off that some are stolen: STAY AWAY FROM ANY SUSPECTED STOLEN VEHICLE! Unless you want to sample the hospitality at one of our fine Federal prisons, don't get involved in any way. The Feds are very pickey about such things and they will find you -- HMMWVs are very hard to conceal. At a mimimum you will lose your money (no refunds on stolen vehicles). Max, many years of close contact with assorted fellow felons.

The first military HMMWVs that were available on the market legitimately were 1) prototype units produced by companies bidding on the HMMWV contracts, 2) units legitimately sold before the ban, 3) units owned by non-US organizations which were legitimately sold off and legally (?) re-imported, 4) DRMO mistakes, 5) units assembled from parts, 6) unknown origin but OK. There were not many of these in total, but in any given month the classifieds listed two or three for sale. Here is what Off-Road.com has to say on the subject.

The 1999 Marine Corps HMMWV Sale

In August 1999 a new chapter was written in the military HMMWV story. The US Marine Corp made an arrangement with a defense contractor to take used HMMWVs in exchange for new equipment and allowed the HMMWVs to be sold at auction to dealers. These HMMWVs range from good condition to near scrap, but they are legitimate vehicles with the Form 97 documentation of legal sale. About 500 were sold to dealers and exporters at prices in the $17 - 20,000 range and more may be coming though this channel. (See Military Vehicles Magazine, Sept/Oct 1999 for the full story.) Official DoD policy has not changed, but these USMC HMMWVs are on the streets and you can find them advertised for sale.

You find HMMWVs listed in the major magazines for MVs. There are now quite a few owned by private individuals so you can use the advice on the Olive-Drab.com page about Sales of Privately Owned Military Vehicles. If you want to deal with a broker, try David Uhrig. He has been around this business for a long time and always has a few HMMWVs available, but be realistic about what it will cost you.

For the HMMWV, as for any military vehicle, you should get familiar with the basics first, following the advice on the Military Vehicle Quick Start page

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Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: hmmwv. Then click the Search button.

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