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When you think of military and government surplus vehicles for sale, you probably picture camouflage-liveried tactical trucks. In many cases, online auction sites will sell cool military vehicles like the variety that I drove in the U.S. Marines. However, the federal government will also sell everything from fire trucks to motorcycles. Check out five of the weirdest, most noteworthy military and government surplus vehicles that we found in online auctions, like a two-tone 1961 Ford Thunderbird. 

What kind of odd surplus government and military vehicles are for sale online?

Government auction sites post surplus vehicles spanning from High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), or Humvees, to emergency vehicles and civilian cars. Here are five of the most peculiar options we found on GovPlanet, an online auction site that allows civilians to bid on vehicles and equipment that the federal government doesn’t need anymore. 

  • 1961 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1950 Hudson Commodore 6
  • 1997 Hendrickson Fire Truck
  • 2003 Triumph Speed Triple

Of course, these auctions pertain to cars, trucks, and surplus vehicles worldwide, so potential owners should be prepared to arrange for shipping or pickup. Moreover, many of these vehicles have high mileage and unclear histories. Still, a government auction could be a reasonable means to get something interesting without breaking the bank. 

What engine came in a 1961 Ford Thunderbird?

The 1961 Ford Thunderbird, one of the odd options we found on an auction site, packs a 300-horsepower, 390-cubic-inch FE V8 engine, per Automotive Mileposts. Still, even with up to 300 horsepower, the Thunderbird is very much a cruiser; it offered a three-speed automatic and no manual transmission option. 

A 1961 Ford Thunderbird sits on a stage with a surplus of trendy 1960s style.
1961 Ford Thunderbird | FPG, Getty Images

Still, a 1961 Ford Thunderbird is one of the most peculiar vehicles you’d expect to find on a government surplus auction site. Better yet, the example we found is an eye-popping red-and-white two-tone affair. It’s quite the departure from the fleet-white pickup trucks and camouflaged Humvees in other auctions. 

Even a classic 1950s vehicle like a Hudson Commodore 6 could find itself on government surplus auction sites

A big, round-bodied 1950 Hudson Commodore 6 is an interesting and rare find on a government auction site. However, it’s not impossible; we found an example of the Hudson model hanging out in North Hollywood, California. 

A surplus 1950 Hudson Commodore 6 shows off its classic styling.
A 1950 Hudson Commodore 6 | Fernando Lavoz, NurPhoto via Getty Images

What do they do with retired fire trucks?

Decommissioned or retired fire trucks are typically sold at auction after their service lives. Civilians will sometimes buy the trucks and turn them into utility, business, or recreational vehicles. 

A government-owned fire truck like this red and white engine could end up at auction.
Emergency vehicles like this fire engine could go to government auction when it’s done serving | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Government surplus auction sites will sell emergency vehicles like a 1997 Hendrickson Fire Truck to civilians in different states of repair. For instance, the Hendrickson Fire Truck we found doesn’t run but could be an exciting project for a determined enthusiast. 

That’s right; government surplus auction sites will post motorcycles like a Triumph Speed Triple 

Bidders can even find motorcycles like a 2003 Triumph Speed Triple on auction sites. It’s not a bad find, either. The 2003 Triumph Speed Triple produced 120 horsepower with its three-cylinder engine at the time of its release. Watch the next video to see a Speed Triple in action.

Would you get your next ride from a government auction? Tell us in the comments below!


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