If you’ve dreamed of having real army vehicles in your garage, there’s good news. Forget all those auto shopping sites online; those sites might offer a pretty good selection of Chevrolets and Kias, but do either of them offer an up-armored version of anything? Does Nissan offer an “air superiority” package on the Versa? Did Tesla suddenly start offering depleted uranium armor-piercing cannons for the Model S?
When you’re in a hurry, what you really need is a used military vehicle that can surface just off the coast and launch a couple of tactical nukes at all the speed cameras in your way. True, you might get pulled over at some point anyway, but odds are good you’ll walk away with a warning when The Man realizes how close he is to watching a JDAM land on his Taurus. That’s what we call “diplomatic immunity.”
So, which of the following are right for you? Vote up your favorite used army vehicle you can actually buy… because at the end of the day, it’s all about spreading democracy.
Saab J35 Draken Interceptor
Head down to Stockton airport in San Joaquin, California, and you can pick up this handsome fighter jet from the same Swedish company that brought us the 9-5 Turbo. The Draken might not look it, but this design dates all the way back to 1955 and remained in service all the way up until 1974. This Mach 2 fighter comes disarmed but is fully compatible with modern Sidewinder missiles. Yours for the totally reasonable price of$175,000 – fuel costs might be a bit high, though. In full afterburner, the Draken will go through about $500 in JP8 jet fuel per minute.
Alvis CVRT Stormer
Forget SUVs – when you simply must get the kids to soccer practice in absolute safety, go with the armored personnel carrier version of Alvis-Vickers’ 1967 tank-killing Scimitar light battle tank. Seats 12 inside and two on top to man the optional 7.62 mm machine guns. Tailgaters, beware. And at about $30,000, the Stormer is pretty price competitive with most three-row minivans.
F16 Fighting Falcon
Sometimes, air superiority is all that matters. Really, how else are you going to get to work in the morning? This is one of those cases where anything is for sale if you have the money, especially if you don’t live in the United States. Right now, the U.S. military isn’t selling surplus F16s because they’re still in service. And even if you owned one, there isn’t a chance the FAA would allow you to fly it over U.S. soil. But, in places like Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and South America, F16s are readily for sale and legal to both own and fly.
They’re actually not too expensive at around $150,000 for an older model in flyable condition, but good luck maintaining it and finding spare parts, especially since General Dynamics sold production to Lockheed and stopped making replacement components for the F16. That’s exactly why so many of our allies have put their older Falcons up for sale on the private market.
Planning an expedition to the North Pole to scout for nuclear missile site locations? Then this Cold War era Tucker Snocat may be for you. Tucker has long been the brand name for go-anywhere tracked vehicles, and its Snocat is the go-to ride for Antarctic explorers. Capable of traversing eight-foot-wide crevasses that would send most other vehicles plummeting, this beast is available for a stunningly reasonable $15,000.
Whiskey Class Submarine (with Optional Submarine Base)
There’s more than one way to make an entrance on your next visit to South Beach. If this 1958 Soviet Whiskey Class patrol submarine doesn’t get you looks, nothing will. This Soviet design was heavily influenced by the German U-Boats of WWII, and many are still in active service in North Korea. So, if you’re into playing the bad boy, this boat is a triple winner. It’s got enough range to submerge to its 650-foot maximum depth off of Long Beach, go around South America, surface in New York City harbor, and fire all 56 torpedoes at Donald Trump’s yacht. All that for the bargain-basement price of $497,000.
But of course, your new public relations tool is going to need a place to hang out when not in use. How about a 25,000 square foot submarine base located in the beautiful fjords of Olavsvern, Norway? NATO has approved the private sale of this Cold War naval base and submarine pen, but pricing hasn’t been announced. Features include ready access to merchant shipping lanes, a mountain to protect from bunker-busting bombs, and very favorable school zoning.
B-52 Bomber (Some Assembly Required)
No, you can’t actually buy one in fully assembled and running form, unless your name is Uncle Sam and you’re good friends with Boeing. But thanks to the many aircraft boneyards in the Western United States, you can buy almost every single piece you need to build your own. It’ll cost about $250,000 to buy everything need, minus new engines and whatever you’ll have to buy or fabricate to make this flying junkyard in the air. All told, expect about to pay about $500,000 at least. For that, you’ve got your own intercontinental airliner capable of leveling small countries.
Forget that sad impostor known as the “H2.” Old Hummer H1s are all over the place now. The government has so many, they’re literally giving them away to anti-terrorism police forces with nothing but pumpkin festivals to protect. For those of us without badges, surplus Hummers are available for between $8,000 and $40,000 depending on the year, engine, armor, and presence of bullet holes.
Patton M47 Medium Battle Tank
Introduced in 1952 as a replacement for the M46, this 50-ton medium battle tank only remained in service for about ten years before it was replaced by the M48 Patton. Objectively, the M48 was a better tank, as its 37-year service life shows. But come on, everybody’s got an M48 these days. They’re like the Toyota Corolla of battle armor. You could practically lose one in a parking lot. This rare classic (a rust-free California collector vehicle) will cost you $135,000 and needs some work to get running. But that’s the price of exclusivity, right?
From 1964 and through the rest of the Cold War, visions of this Czech/Polish APC terrified Western civilizations. If a Red Dawn scenario had occurred, thousands of these would have rolled across the border from the USSR into Europe, carrying legions of Spetznaz shock troops. Most of them are now rusting in Russian scrapyards but running and well-maintained examples can be bought for a very reasonable $20,000 to $25,000 (plus shipping). At that price, this Russian bear won’t break you.
WWII Sherman Tank
Classics don’t get any more classic than the Sherman. Star of practically every WWII movie you’ve ever seen, the Sherman is the Ford Model A of Nazi-killing war machines. A Canadian-built, fully original, museum-quality M4A1 Grizzly I Cruiser like the one pictured above will run you $250,000. Less pristine models can be bought for around $60,000 and basket cases in need of complete restoration might run as little as $20K. Not the cheapest option, but a real Sherman is the only option if a certain neighbor keeps parking their Panzer on your grass.
And you though military vehicles couldn’t get manlier than the original Humvee. The Humvee’s replacement from Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense takes the best parts of the H1 and combines it with lessons learned from the last generation MRAP (Mine-Resistant AmbushProtected vehicle). It’s also about halfway in size between the two, and that’s no accident. The MRAP was hefty for taking the kids to soccer practice. As of right now, Oshkosh hasn’t introduced a civilian version; but it’s definitely coming, and will probably cost around $250,000. Don’t count on getting the first one, though; you know the Governator’s already got dibs.
Polaris MV850 TerrainArmor Edition
If scooters and golf carts can go to war, there’s no way ATVs were going to be left out. What we’d call quad bikes today were among the first military vehicles ever produced, fielded by the British in World War I. The Polaris TerrainArmor brings that tradition to the 21st century and single-handedly makes every other ATV on Earth look about as tough as a Big Wheel tricycle. A bit steep at $15,000, but it does come with the kind of next-generation airless tires that will soon debut on larger military vehicles.
Scud Missile Launcher
Oh, how we miss the ’90s. This Soviet-built Scud Missile Launcher hails from the days of Nirvana and went up for auction last year. Having never met its $300,000 reserve price, this fun bit of Saddam memorabilia remains for sale today. Yes, that purchase price includes a real Scud missile captured by U.S. military forces after the invasion of Kuwait – and yes, the whole deal is totally gnarly.
They say every angel’s idea ultimately winds up doing the devil’s duty. Yes, the Razor Scooter has officially taken up arms, albeit in motorized form. The Knightrider from Go-Ped is exactly what you think, and it’s been “operationally tested” at least a few times by some pretty serious special forces units. In a way, the Knightrider makes perfect sense: it’s dead silent, uses off-road suspension and tires, has a range of 25 miles, and it’s good for 19 mph in “turbo boost” mode, which is in no way a reference to David Hasselhoff. It might not be the single coolest military vehicle in the world, but the concept of a military scooter is actually kind of brilliant in its own way. Reasonably priced, too, at $4,700 brand new.
Supacat All-Terrain Mobility Platform MkIV
Behold the world’s baddest golf cart, straight from action in Iraq. This fourth-generation Supacat is capable of carrying 1.6 tons of machine guns, golf clubs, or beer practically anywhere on Earth. It’s fully amphibious and uses its six driven wheels as a kind of paddlewheel drive when storming beaches. Capable of 40-plus mph, the ATMP can even be registered to drive on public roads. You can buy one new from Supacat for around $60,000, but used models in good condition go for as little as $10,000.
The Renault Sherpa is the Hummer for people who love Hummers but don’t vote Republican. Ride of choice for French and NATO forces, the Sherpa is Europe’s take on the Hummer H1. At a quarter-million dollars new for the civilian version, it’s not too far off of a civilian H1, but you can find used Sherpas for a fraction of that. With its snazzy sportback roof, angled nose, and decidedly Lamborghini-esque wheel arches, the Sherpa looks a bit more Dakar Rally than Afghanistan battlefield. Don’t let that fool you, this European is plenty tough enough to handle every pothole America’s roads can throw at it.
SS-21 Scarab Nuclear Missile Launcher
The 300-horsepower, six-wheeled launcher pictured is technically known as the BAZ 5921 SS-21, but it’s better known as the Scarab Missile Launcher. For only about $150,000, you too can fling 100 kiloton warheads up to 115 miles away from this highly mobile launch platform. Ideal for delivering Fourth of July fireworks to Cuba from Miami, the BAZ 5921 is perfect for those 1950s kids looking for a touch of nostalgia.
Jeep Staff Car
Proving once again that nobody does retro-like Mopar, this Rubicon Concept has to be the coolest thing Jeep’s done in years. Almost enough to forgive the Liberty. Apart from its modern grille, this Jeep looks for all the world like a perfectly restored WWII Willys staff car. Technically, it’s not a “military vehicle” yet, and it’s still in the concept stage, but even if this modern Staff Car never sees a battlefield, it gets a pass just for being awesome. If Jeep puts it into production, it will probably be as a variant of the $41,000 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock.
British military surplus retailer Tank Limo offers an assortment of Chieftain tanks, including this beautiful Mk10 from the early 1970s. The Chieftain line remains in combat use today, and fully functional models with working main guns go for around $80,000. A runner in need of restoration can go for around $50K, and DIY tanks in need of complete restoration can be bought for as little as $20K. Not a bad deal, minus the extra $10,000 or so you’ll pay to have a freakin’ tank shipped from England.
Dodge WC Utility Truck
Don’t call it a Jeep. The Dodge WC line may have looked a bit like a plus-sized Kaiser-Willys Jeep in some configurations, but underneath it was a four-by-four truck from 3/4- to 1-1/2 ton weight ratings. The WC came in everything from six-wheel-drive transports to SUV-like “carryalls” to the above-pictured utility truck. Many were actually used in both Europe and the Pacific throughout WWII, and you can find running examples today for about $5,000 to $35,000 depending on configuration and condition.