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You might look at the prices of new or preowned pickup trucks on car-buying websites and think, “not going to happen.” Well, you’re not entirely out of options. You could turn to the private market or find a cheap, used pickup truck or even a Humvee from a government auction website. Read about the pros and cons of snagging the keys to a pickup truck from a military surplus vehicle marketplace. 

Can civilians buy military trucks?

It’s true; civilians can own military trucks after the U.S. government is done with them. These trucks cover everything from multiple-ton utility trucks to Humvees and cheap fleet-use pickup trucks. 

Moreover, determined bargain hunters could find used pickup trucks and other vehicles for less money. Potential owners should consider sites like Gov Planet for active auctions. Theses sites host government auctions where civilians can register and bid on vehicles. Of course, fans who bid on military and government vehicles should be mindful of a few things. For instance, government vehicles tend to live complex and challenging lives. 

Moreover, the government auctions vehicles worldwide, not just in the continental United States (CONUS). As a result, potential owners will have to arrange for pickup or shipping.   

Depending on your state, some military surplus vehicles can be illegal to drive on the road. For instance, the state of California doesn’t permit the registration of any vehicle that the manufacturer didn’t intend to go on public highways. 

However, many states will allow owners to register vehicles like Humvees as long as it meets the requirements to be street-legal. For example, some states require an inspection to register or yearly inspections, and your Humvee would have to pass testing. Still, if the vehicle you’re considering is a fleet application, like a used pickup truck, there’s a good chance it would be a simple registration.   

What kind of pickup trucks does the government sell?

You’ll see no shortage of available vehicles if you check out government auction sites. For instance, Dodge Ram 2500s, Ford F-150s, and Chevrolet Silverados are commonplace on the sites. Moreover, small pickup trucks, like the Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger, often make an appearance. 

A cheap white 2006 Ford F-150 like this fleet pickup truck can sell at military surplus vehicle auctions or used car lots.
Ford F-150 | Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

Of course, potential owners must remember that many of these cheap trucks have high mileage. Many have odometers showing well over 200,000 miles. Still, some of the trucks on the auction sites show as little as 20,000 or fewer miles. 

It’s not just pickup trucks; fans can also bid on decommissioned law enforcement vehicles like Ford Crown Victoria Interceptors. Better yet, many of these police cars have front-mounted V8s and rear-wheel drive (RWD), the classic sports car recipe for tail-happy good times.  

How much does a surplus Humvee cost?

While some used fleet pickup trucks have auctions that start below $1,000, the venerable High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), or Humvee, tends to start slightly higher. For instance, many four-door Humvees on Gov Planet start at around $3,500 or $4,000. 

A Humvee military vehicle shows off its armor and turret.
Humvee | Mateusz Slodkowski, AFP via Getty Images

Moreover, government auctions sell a variety of Humvees, including high-top ambulances, two-door utility pickup truck applications, and the classic four-door multipurpose machine.   

Should you buy a surplus pickup truck?

It might be tempting to hop on one of these auctions, but you should consider a few things before you bid. First, many of these trucks have lived hard lives. When I drove Humvees in the Marine Corps, my unit used them in the frigid cold, scorching heat, and even fording through bodies of water. Second, many of these vehicles have high mileage. 

Finally, the federal government isn’t going to ship it to you. You’ll have to collect your new ride or arrange for it to be sent home. Would you consider a surplus pickup truck? Tell us in the comments below!  


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