Private Sales of Military Vehicles

eBay auctions have become one of the leading marketplaces for private sales of Military Vehicles. This page tells you how to work with eBay and other sources to find the MV for your interests and budget as well as how to find information and help when buying from a private seller.

Privately owned Dodge M-37 for sale in California, 2002
Privately owned Dodge M-37 for sale in California, 2002.

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Sales of Privately Owned Military Vehicles

Once a military vehicle has entered the private market, it will be sold from time to time like any privately owned car or truck. The seller may be the individual owner who cherished it as a military antique, or a military truck dealer who knows all about its market and historical value, or it could be in the hands of a commercial vehicle dealer who could not care less about its military features.

When an MV sale takes place, the owner may try to sell it using local advertising or, if he is an MV enthusiast, may take it to his MVPA chapter and place an ad in the chapter newsletter. Vehicles will also be advertised in Military Vehicles Magazine, the MVPA magazine, or other specialized publications listed on the MV Magazines and Periodicals page.

More and more, however, the Internet is utilized to market MVs in order to reach the largest number of potential customers and obtain the correct value for the vehicle. Internet sales use these channels:

The popularity of eBay continues to grow, for parts as well as for complete vehicles. For example, here is a nice M-51 5 ton, 6X6 dump truck from a posting on eBay in November 2006:

eBay ad for Kaiser 6x6 dump truck

The description with the ad reads:

1969 Kaiser 6X6 miltary dump truck. This truck has a turbocharged engine, that runs on diesel, kerosene, aircraft fuel or gas. 10 speed transmission. Serial number for this truck is 05D14068962812197. Has a clear civilian title. Runs good, bed works good, trannie shifts good, clutch is good. Canvas top is torn, needs replaced. This would be great for a real muddy work area, because you would have to try to get it stuck. We have used it around here moving dirt at the auction house and it is just awesome.

Another eBay example, an active auction on the same day as the Kaiser dump truck, is this M38 jeep:

eBay ad for M38 jeep

To find military vehicles on eBay, the easiest way is this:

  • Go to the eBay website
  • Click on "Advanced Search"
  • Put military in the keyword box
  • Put $1000 in the Items Priced Min box
  • Click Search

Adjust the price to the level you want, but make it high enough to weed out all the military parts and most other items. If you find an ad you like, proceed just like you would with any used car or truck. Get all the info and try to arrange to see it. Here is a page of helpful advice on How to Buy a Vehicle on eBay.

Since distance is often a factor, the seller may meet you half-way. For "big iron" you have to consider how you are going to transport your purchase back home. You can't really drive a Sherman on the Interstates! (See MV Transportation for some ideas.) If you have any questions about the type of vehicle, transportation, or anything else you can get the absolute latest info from the Military Vehicle Discussion Groups and Forums for the type of vehicle you are purchasing. Don't be afraid to ask questions -- that's what the groups are for.

For example, here is a post from the Dodge Power Wagon Forum, looking for advice on the purchase of an M-37 from a private party:

I found a guy near me who has a nice 50's M37 for sale almost no rust (surface only) has rear canvas and braden PTO winch. There's a home-made metal hardtop tack welded on. Truck runs great. He wants $4500. Does this seem fair ? This was a former fire vehicle stored indoors so its pretty clean.

Since you often can't inspect the vehicle yourself, next best is to have someone else inspect it for you. If you know someone in the area or can get help from someone on an MV forum, they may be able to inspect on your behalf. For photos, it is prudent to get more than a handful of snapshots selected by the seller. With a digital camera, he can take dozens of walkaround photos or make a video to document the vehicle. He can use email or a website to make them available to you. If the vehicle type is prone to rust in specific areas, or has other very specific potential issues, ask the seller to photograph those to document the condition. This is still not as good as a personal inspection, but buying vehicles long distance has additional risks and you want to eliminate as many as possible.

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