…and one you can’t
In 1944, Willys set about creating a civilian version of the US Army’s quarter-ton jeep.
The first model available to the car-buying public, the CJ-2A (CJ-1 and CJ-2 were prototype designations), went on sale in July 1945, and its success would usher in other military-to-civilian transitions, notably Land Rover’s Series 1 (1948), Volkswagen’s Type 181 “Thing” (1968) and General Motors’ Hummer H1 (1992).
These vehicles’ heroic reputation and all-conquering capability have cemented their appeal among all manner of outdoors enthusiasts, hip-hop personalities and playboy despots.
In their spirit, we present a nonet of military trucks a civilian can buy – sans weaponry – along with a look at a vehicle that is gunning to become the next US military truck (and to someday spawn a Schwarzenegger-calibre civilian version of its own). (Credit: Auctions America)
See also: 7 Military Secret Weapons Left Unfinished!
DUKW “Duck” amphibious truck
**Country of origin:** US
**Briefing:** Like the original Willys/Ford jeep, the gargantuan, six-wheel-drive DUKW dates to World War II.
The designation is an amalgam of internal letter codes â€“ D: built in 1942; U: utility truck; K: front-wheel drive; W: rear-wheel drive – but the amphibious DUKW is better known by a friendlier name: the Duck.
Built on GMC’s heavy-duty CCKW military truck chassis, the Duck featured a slab-sided boat hull for a body and a single 25in propeller behind its rearmost axle.
Powered by a 92-horsepower in-line six-cylinder engine, it tipped the scales at close to 15,000lbs (6,804kg). What it lacked in speed, however, the Duck made up for in indefatigability.
Like the wartime jeep, the DUKW proved (figuratively as well as literally) bulletproof. Of the roughly 21,000 Ducks built between 1942 and 1945, a surprising number are still road- and seaworthy.
Many have found a second calling as tourist conveyances in cities such as Boston and London, but a few serve as adventure toys for private collectors.
Several companies, including the US-based Chicago DUKWs, offer Duck-specific sales and restoration services, as well as parts and tech support to keep the 80-year-old machines on the road – and on the water.
**Price:** Varies, though the restored example pictured here sold at auction in July 2014 for $78,775
(Credit: Auctions America)
Jeep Staff Car Concept
**Country of origin:** US
**Briefing:** The annual Easter Jeep Safari is the highlight of the year for thousands of off-road aficionados from across the US.
Set amid the challenging terrain of Moab, Utah, the event offers a week of rock-hopping and camaraderie, and gives Jeep designers and engineers the opportunity to push the boundaries of the company’s vehicles.
The military-styled Staff Car is one of seven Jeep-derived concept vehicles unveiled in Utah this year, the Safari’s 49th. Based on the Wrangler Unlimited, the concept is painted Sandstorm tan and topped with a stretched canvas roof.
It features open fenders and low-back bench seats and, like the World War II four-by-four that inspired it, there are no B-pillar or doors (although there is an integrated roll hoop). The steel-beam front and rear bumpers were pulled from the Jeep J8 military truck.
Power comes from the standard Wrangler’s 3.6-litre gasoline V-6 engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission and, of course, four-wheel drive and the Wrangler Rubicon’s Dana 44 locking axles. A lift kit from Jeep Performance Parts raises the ride height by two inches.
There’s a fender-mounted blackout light, a vintage jerrycan, a flank-mounted shovel and axe, and steel wheels wrapped with 35in Firestone mil-spec tires. And because beverages are better than bullets, what appears to be an old ammo box is actually a cooler with space for 85 frosty cans.
**Price:** NA (Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock 4×4, $40,990)
(Credit: Fiat Group)
**Country of origin:** France
**Briefing:** Renault’s mighty Sherpa owes its appeal not only to the olive drab versions piloted by French and NATO soldiers, but to the charismatic appearances of the civilian model in the grueling Dakar Rally.
Available by special order in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, the non-military Sherpa can be had as an unarmoured station wagon or pickup, or, for war-zone duty, a fully-armoured wagon.
Power comes from a deafening 4.76-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Its 215hp and 590lb-ft of torque reach all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
**Price (UAE):** Approximately 1m dirham ($272,000)
(Photo: Renault Trucks)
**Country of origin:** Russia
**Briefing:** That the military Tigr bears a passing resemblance to the American Humvee is, to the Russian truck’s vociferous fans, nothing more than coincidence.
Beneath its expansive hood rumbles a 5.9-litre diesel engine, which meets a six-speed manual transmission and permanent four-wheel-drive.
Production of the civilian Tigr – which can soften its brutality with the addition of such creature comforts as leather, air conditioning and a thumping audio system – is hardly a top priority for GAZ, and acquiring one is neither simple nor inexpensive, but a successful buyer is fairly guaranteed to be the only Tigr-tamer in his *okrestnosti*.
**Price (Russia):** approximately 3.5m rubles ($110,000)
(Photo: GAZ Group)
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6
**Country of origin:** Austria
**Briefing:** As production vehicles go, the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, otherwise known as the G Class, is ancient.
Merely revised during more than 30 years of production, this bricklike military machine in a civilian paintjob still manages to capture the imagination of those who dream of traffic parting with their approach – business tycoons, action-film stars, the Pope.
Like the “standard” G63 AMG, the new G63 AMG 6×6 packs a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine producing 536hp and 560lb-ft of torque. The engine meets the six-by-six drivetrain from Mercedes’ hulking Zetros truck, yielding 15.75in of ground clearance – sufficient to ford water as deep as 40in.
Getting behind the wheel of this ultimate G Class, unless you happen to be, say, a James Bond villain, will be tricky. The vehicle is not (legally) destined for North America or right-hand-drive countries, and Mercedes has promised that production volume will be “very small”.
**Price (Germany, exclusive of VAT):** 379,000 euros (approximately $523,000)
**Country of origin:** South Africa
**Briefing:** Ten tonnes of South African stoutness, the Marauder is possessed of a double-skin monocoque that helps it resist virtually all forms of light-arms fire, as well as the occasional anti-tank mine.
It also, as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond learned, is rather good as a city runabout – provided the pilot steers clear of fast-food drive-throughs.
(Photo: Paramount Group)
**Country of origin:** US/Israel **Briefing:** A scooter on the battlefield? Roger that. Meet the Knightrider, from US scooter-maker Go-Ped. It may bear a passing resemblance to the neighbour kid’s Razor, but don’t be fooled: this two-wheeler is no toy.
Based on Go-Ped’s Hoverboard civilian electric scooter and the police-spec ESR-750 Portable Patrol Vehicle, the matte-black Knightrider was designed for stealthy special-forces maneuvers over hostile terrain, with fat knobby tires and a long-travel cantilever-style suspension.
The Knightrider’s lithium-ion polymer battery pack and “Torkinator” electric motor deliver a maximum cruising range of 25 miles and a top speed – thanks to a short-burst Turbo mode – of 19mph. So who is using the Knightrider? That’s strictly need-to-know, according to Go-Ped. Says Tactical Division chief executive Dr Ran Lapid:
“I can only confirm that the Knightrider was tested by the most prestigious special ops commando units in the world.” **Price:** NA (Go-Ped ESR-750 Portable Patrol Vehicle, $4,700) (Photo: Go-Ped Tactical Division)
Polaris MV850 TerrainArmor Edition
**Country of origin:** United States
**Briefing:** Designed to thwart “enemy ballistics, treacherous terrain and other mission-crippling obstacles”, the MV850, from US-based Polaris Industries, is the first military ATV to make use of non-pneumatic tires.
The company promises that the single-seat trucklet’s TerrainArmor tires, invented by Wisconsin-based Resilient Technologies, can shake off shots from a .50-calibre gun or penetration by a railroad spike, even while carrying a full combat load.
In both the MV850 and its equally tenacious civilian counterpart, the WV850, a 77-horsepower, 850cc two-cylinder engine is matched to a single-speed transmission and all-wheel drive.
With TerrainArmor’s proven survivability on the battlefield, it’s a safe bet that the US military is looking closely at non-pneumatic tires for bigger machines, including the coming replacement for the Hummer.
**Price:** $15,000 (WV850)
(Photo: Polaris Defense)
Supacat LRV 400
**Country of origin:** Britain
**Briefing:** The Qt Wildcat – formerly known as the Bowler Wildcat – is a Land Rover Defender-based cross-country rally runner.
The new Supacat LRV 400 is the military version of the Wildcat, and it delivers the rally car’s high-speed all-terrain capability in a somewhat more weaponised package.
Perfect for special forces teams, border patrol agencies and the like, the LRV (which stows neatly aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for easy transport) packs a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine from Ford that’s good for 236 horsepower, although buyers may opt for gasoline V8 engines producing as much as 640hp.
Top speed with the standard diesel is 106mph, but the addition of a armour plates, winches and a roof-mounted .50-calibre machine gun may sap performance a bit.
**Price:** approximately $250,000
(Photo: Supacat Limited)
**Country of origin:** United States
**Briefing:** How to replace a fleet of aging Humvees that numbers in the tens of thousands? With a bit of technological derring-do.
Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense has developed the L-ATV prototype to pick up where the Humvee has left off, carrying a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain that allows the purpose-built vehicle to run near-silent when missions require it.
The US government has taken delivery of 22 L-ATV prototypes for testing, but civilian sales do not figure in Oshkosh’s immediate product plans.
(Photo: Oshkosh Defense)