The Vehicles that Drive Armed Forces: Collecting and Preserving Military Vehicles
By Kiernan Manion
We’ve all seen military vehicles in parades, car shows, perhaps even driving down the street or parked at the local grocery store, but has it ever crossed your mind how to own a military vehicle?
David W. Uhrig, a Military Vehicle Sales and Appraisals professional, is an expert on the topic of military vehicles and their parts, history, and community following. David offered Surplus Today some in-depth perspective on the phenomenon of military vehicles, including the significance of these awesome machines, how to buy and sell them, and a deeper understanding of how they’re used today.
While current-issue military vehicles are actively used by the military, many retired MVs are still used as show vehicles for large gatherings, parades, re-enactments, and even museums, while others can even be used by civilians on their everyday vehicle.
Frequent surplus store customers can learn more about military vehicles as well as a large pool of information about shows, clubs. As Uhrig puts it, “They only need two things – a membership to The Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) and a subscription to MV Magazine.” You can find more information about the MVPA and military vehicles shows and events at their website: www.MVPA.org.
Military vehicles can range from different models, styles, functions, and even countries. Some of the most popular types of MVs are HMMWVs (Hummers/Humvees), CJ Jeeps, transporters, wreckers, trailers, motorcycles, boats and even tanks, planes and helicopters! Cost and availability drastically varies based on era, condition, and historical significance.
What makes military vehicles, especially older models and styles, so collectible and interesting, as Uhrig puts it, is history: “The very reason the MVPA was started, as stated in our mission statement, was the preservation of these vehicles from the past and especially the vehicles used by the Greatest Generation. All MV’s are popular and very collectible but the World War II vehicles remain the most popular and for the most part, the most valuable.”
As you would think, vehicles used by the armed forces tend to have considerably more upgrades as far as reliability, durability and capabilities, as they are designed to withstand the combat-fought terrain found in battlefields across the world. This technology exists in many retired MVs as well, so be sure to research the different specifications and parts installed as opposed to their civilian counterparts. You’d be amazed how much technology and brute force was placed in them.
Hard-to-find parts and accessories bring a large following of MV enthusiasts to surplus stores, including original boxes, wheels/tires, axles, winches, fuel cans, tools, manuals, posters and other collectibles. “This is the 37th year since we started the MVPA and as time passed and the basic restoration was finished on an MV, that’s when the next phase of work and fun starts,” said Uhrig, “Every collector tries hard to outfit his vehicle with all of the correct and original gear that it would have carried: axes, shovels, gun mounts, radios, backpacks, antenna setups, tire chains…the list is almost endless.”
The military vehicle community can overlap with other car/truck/vehicle followings, as the desire to preserve, collect and own vehicles with forms of familiar sentimentality, historical relevance, and personal style transcends to any sort of passion for cars, trucks and other motor vehicles.
While there are a few different avenues for buying and selling military vehicles, be sure to check out the MVPA website, as well as David Uhrig’s own site, www.ArmyJeeps.net. “Owning a military vehicle is no different than owning any civilian vehicle, there are no laws or regulations as far as I know and I have been dealing in them for 45 years since 1968,” says Dave, who was very enthusiastic about the education and preservation of military vehicles.
If you’re interested in learning more about military vehicles and related resources, be sure to check out the classified ads and informative articles found at these resources, and don’t forget to be on the lookout for the numerous Army Navy Military shows, expos, and events held over the summer throughout the U.S. If you haven’t seen these MVs in person, they’re definitely worth checking out.
Remember, you can always check surplus stores to find authentic, rare pieces of military relating to vehicles, militaria and other collectibles from the armed forces. The same can be true with gun shops, shows and collectors; as Uhrig puts it, “…what MV didn’t have three or four guns hanging on it?”