By on February 28, 2013

Going to Barrett-Jackson to buy a classic car is for sissies, says the Wall Street Journal. Real men collect tanks. Not Hummers. Tanks.

The number of private tank collectors in the U.S. is estimated to be between several hundred and 1,000. It’s a growing hobby, says the paper.

They have everything in their at-home armory, from WW2 Shermans to more recent vintage 1966 MY British Chieftain tanks.

Parts and MPG? Don’t ask:

“A set of rubber tracks for a Chaffee goes for about $6,000. A Chieftain gets about 250 miles on 200 gallons of diesel. Mechanics say vintage tanks require an hour or more of maintenance for every hour of operation. A turret-to-tracks restoration can require 2,000 man-hours or more of labor, at $50 or more an hour. That’s not including the cost of hard-to-find tank parts.”

As for the chick magnet: Tank collectors usually get a divorce, says the WSJ.

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76 Comments on “Real Men Own A Tank. But Does It Get You Laid?...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    As a WWII nut, it is still a dream of mine to one day own a WWII era tank. More like pipe dream.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      I would lust for a Tiger II with an 88 mm gun.

      There is an interesting story behind this tank. Ferdinand Porsche submitted one of the original designs, and was so sure of its superior (though very complicated design), that started ordering turrets before the contract was awarded.
      The contract was eventually awarded to Henschel.

      http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=247

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Actually Hitler wanted Porsche to win the design (even after the disaster of the Elephant), so I’m sure Ferdinand was quite confident, during the head to head demonstration porsche’s entry wasn’t even close (and in reality the Tiger was a defensive tank, amazing design (also complex, its biggest issue, it wasn’t much better than the much simpler to produce T-34 which the General Staff wanted to copy), and forget the industrialist name (the only one who had the balls to question Hitler, and actually got off on the whole destruction/reconstruction thing), but knew that if Germany didn’t defeat Russia by the end of 43′ at that point they would be in a position that even if every German Solder, Tank and Plane had a 3 to 1 kill ratio they would still be over-ran.

      • 0 avatar
        dswilly

        As the Germans used to say “ One Tiger is worth ten Sherman’s, problem is there was always eleven”.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          Unfortunately many poor Tankmen died due to that WW2 philosophy by the US Government. The Soviets used massed T34 attacks in a similar way against Tigers.
          It is only when all tanks, became “tank killers” rather than have that role carried out by Artillery or by “Tank destroyers” then the 10 to 1 thing disappeared

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      I’d take a T-34 with a big, big grin on my face. Or even a BMP-1 or 2. Rig the gun and smoke launchers to fire salt water taffy and drive that thing in every parade you can get it to. You can’t tell me with a straight face that any Russian tank requires an hour of maintenance for every hour of operation. Nope, not buying it.

      • 0 avatar
        mic

        if memory serves me, and I’m not saying it does, I think the BMP 1 had two 2 cylinder tractor motors for its locomotion and good luck keeping them running and synchronized even with the web at your disposal. maybe it was the BTR-60….

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      From the documentaries I’ve seen there are currently only a handful of Tigers and Panthers still in operational condition. I can’t speak for the PzKpfw I-IV’s but I do recall seeing one documentary where some IVs were shipped to Syria long after WWII and used against the Israelis in the Six days war.

      Actually this is the German tank you want, light some stuff up with a 150mm howitzer

      http://en.wikipedia DOT org/wiki/File:Sturmpanzer.Saumur.0008gkp7.jpg

  • avatar
    danio3834

    To all the anti-gun activists who ask the question, “Would you be OK with your neighbor owning a tank?”

    I think this article answers that question. Yes, yes I would.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Well, it doesn’t have a detachable magazine, bayonet mount, or a pistol grip, so it’s not an assault weapon.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You are unlikely to be able to buy one with a working gun anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        If your neighbor wants to kill you with his tank, he doesn’t need a working gun. Just drive into your house at mid-night to say hi.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Used to be a developer in Australia who wanted to attract attention to his new Commercial development, so he parked a 1950′s Centurion Tank on his lot. Yes it was in working order except for the cannon.
        I have seen a car yard with an early WW2 Matilda Tank parked near the front of the yard

      • 0 avatar
        George Herbert


        You are unlikely to be able to buy one with a working gun anyway.

        BATF Destructive Devices permits (Class 9 Dealer, 10 Manufacturer, or 11 Importer) are $3,000 for 3 years.

        Yes, with one of those, you can own a cannon, bomber, or ICBM (sans warhead).

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    I vote we hand the keys to the Sherman over to TTAC’s tame racing driver.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I love the tank in that last picture. Yellow always looked especially good on this generation of Town Car. And who doesn’t go ga-ga over opera windows?

    Oh, that large, green, turreted thing is pretty cool, too.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    There is also a culture of miniature home made tanks. I think an Australian or Kiwi is building them. They’re about 1/3 scale.

  • avatar

    I would love to witness the juxtaposition of a tank, such as that shown, on rutted Lancaster, PA roads with Amish buggies. Maybe the difference in track width would help flatten those awful rural lanes.

  • avatar
    smartcpa

    I find the title of this article OFFENSIVE! You have minor children that read this site. What are you thinking! Do you really have to be crass to get your point across? Grow up!

  • avatar

    Yes, please. Make mine Russian.

  • avatar
    mic

    So now seems to be a good spot for this tale. Back in 1986 or so I was stationed in Germany as an M60 tank driver in Uncle Sams Army. One day as I was tooling down the autobahn I was having a nicotine fit. So, I steered with my knee and crouched in the hatch opening but the wind kept blowing out my lighter. It was the old school equivalent of texting and driving. Well my tank commander yells in the intercom “what the hell are you doing?” Seems I drifted to the right and I was destroying the guardrail. The guardrail got balled up in the track, spit out and then arced over the top of the turret, at which point he made his exclamation, then thrown into the ditch. We kept on rolling! I finally did get my smoke lit:-) Not much can compete with a tank.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      The late great John Gosz told me of his experience on the German Roadway, where a beetle almost completed a passing maneuver… Not able to overtake the lead tank in the column, the driver tried to squeeze in between two tanks, and misjudging that too, ended up in getting himself and his family crushed beneath the tank.

      There is probably a lesson in this for anyone on the roadways near a tank.

    • 0 avatar
      taxman100

      I remember when I was in the Marine Corps we took part in an exercise where Marines were landed to help defend the Kiel Canal in Northern Germany from the hordes of Godless commies. We we designed to die in a military manner, but hopefully slow them down.

      My infantry platoon was assigned to provide defense for the tank company to which we were attached. (Marines do not have armored infantry or mech units, per say). There was a guy assigned to the tank company whose job was to take damage reports from civilians who wanted to file claims after our unit passed thru their town.

      First thing we did on our LVTP-7 we rode around in was fly a Marine Corps flag from the antenna – big target, but we didn’t want the Jerries, Brits, Danes, etc. who were playing the Commies to forget who we were. (I’m sure they were treating us as Soviet invaders)

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        My dad, who was in the Army and stationed in Germany during the late 70′s-early 80′s, told me the same story. The vastly outnumbered American and West German forces were sure to be steamrolled by Ruskies armed with chemical weapons and were expected to hold out as long as possible to allow time for the bulk of the American troops to arrive from the states. Whenever I think I’m having a tough time I think back to that story and try to imagine what it would have felt like to be in his shoes during those scary times. Thank you for your service.

        • 0 avatar
          rnc

          My parents (Dad) were stationed in Germany twice in the 60′s and once in the early 70′s. My mom said she was terrified in the 60′s as war was a real possibility and the US and West German forces weren’t a stopgap until the forces could arrive from the states, they were a stopgap until France could drop its arsenal of tactical nuclear bombs to halt the advance (which meant nuking west germany). France only has a handfull of Strategic nuclear weapons, most were made for above said purpose.

          • 0 avatar
            mic

            Actually I think the Russians would have been embarrassed. It was no match technologically and our level of training by the late 80s was second to none. Read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising for a pretty accurate scenario of that potential conflict.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Make mine an M5 Stuart – the updated one, but I’ll take an M3 if that’s all you got, though.

    …But I still dream of a Sherman!

  • avatar

    Unlike some of you guys I don’t need to overcompensate for anything. I just want a half-track.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Does a tank get you laid? I suppose if it leads to divorce, then it probably does. When I worked on Deutsche Bank’s Manhattan trading floor in 1999, there was much discussion of the MDs’ propensity for keeping battle tanks at their country homes. The impression I got at the time was that there was a political power component to it, that not just any yokel making a phone number could navigate the red tape and park a T54 in their driveway.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’ll take an F-Series with what I think is a ROLL-A-LONG pkg?

    images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/2/5/3/7/1/4/7/tank-47463029247.jpeg

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    The late great John Gosz told me of his experience on the German Roadway, where a beetle almost completed a passing maneuver… Not able to overtake the lead tank in the column, the driver tried to squeeze in between two tanks, and misjudging that too, ended up in getting himself and his family crushed beneath the tank.

    There is probably a lesson in this for anyone on the roadways near a tank.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “A Chieftain gets about 250 miles on 200 gallons of diesel.”

    Brings new meaning to Mile Per Gallon (yours may vary.)

  • avatar
    hubcap

    F@%k a tank.

    How ’bout a nice P-51 Mustang or F-8 Bearcat. Hell, I’d even settle for a Spitfire.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “As for the chick magnet: Tank collectors usually get a divorce, says the WSJ.”

    Sounds like a (40-ton) magnet to me, a magnet can both attract and repel. One pole attracts guys, opposite pole repulses dames.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Doubles as a cyclotron too…

    Try driving it in a tight circle at maximum speed and be amazed at all the elementary particles of rubber and road-surface that issue forth from under the tracks!

  • avatar
    ArBee

    New here, I take it?

  • avatar
    fatalexception04

    I see the second picture and all I think is that guy should spent the money on a reno for his house not that tank

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    There’s an Army/Navy story here in town that has a M8 Greyhound armored car in its parking lot, complete with with the 37mm cannon (although the breech block has been removed). The thing has been on sale for about 3 years now, I made an offer on it, they accepted it………but my wife wouldn’t let me complete the deal. Had to tell the owner of the store, “Sorry, SHE won’t let me.”

  • avatar
    brid1970

    “..we have new authors, and we will have more. Please go easy on them.”

    But shouldn’t we expect “civility” in their product as well?

  • avatar
    Syke

    A tank is a bit on the overkill side. Now, I wouldn’t mind owning an M2(?) Greyhound armored car like a neighbor of mine about five miles up the road. He’s heavily into seriously military vehicles, and has a gorgeous, petite 16 year old daughter who can handle the controls of a 6×6 truck with more style then her friends in their automatic-equipped Civics.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    The M18 Hellcat (tank destroyer) would probably be the most fun of all the WWII era tanks – to drive. Top speed is 60 mph.

    Another favorite of mine would be the M551 Sheridan – top speed 43 mph and very manuverable.

    I’d also throw in the Leopard 1 – 40 mph.

    I’m sure there are a few others that could be classified into the ‘hot rod’ category..

  • avatar
    skor

    Local well drilling contractor had a WWII area GMC DUKW (aka “duck”) landing craft on his property for decades. He refused all offers to sell the thing. When he finally died, the DUKW was too far gone to repair, and was sold for scrap metal.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    These costs explain the popularity of Ferret scout cars, they have armor and turrets, but they cost only $10-15k and fit in your garage.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I don’t want a tank, but I would take a Kaiser M715.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Tanks & exotic cars: cool to guys, uncool to girls. Personally, I’d go for a fiberglass REPLICA tank: light, cheap, but with the awesome look.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    How to buy a Tank ,Australian style. nice 105mm needs a few repairs.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyjohns/1837610865/sizes/z/in/photostream/


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