Volkswagen based this vehicle on the ultra-popular, influential VW Beatle. The Type 181 also famous as “The Thing.” It was a utilitarian version they aimed at buyers who wanted to use it as a beach vehicle. Interestingly, the true roots of this model can be traced to Nazi Germany and a military version called the Kubelwagen. The Kubelwagen was the German rival to the Jeep Willys.
It used the VW Beetle floor plan, engine and open-top body similar to the Type 181. But in contrast to curvy looking beach buggies of the day, The Thing was square with flat body panels and edges. It looked like anybody could build it in their garage, and in fact, many drivers modified their Type 181 to serve their purposes.
Conceived as a military vehicle, the G-Class went a long way from a barebones off-road vehicle to a luxury SUV delivering 563 HP with its 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. The proof of its evolution is still its boxy design, rugged mechanics and stance, but everything else is modern and luxurious. Mercedes unveiled it in 1979.
The G-Class was a dependable military transport long before they transformed it into a comfy luxury SUV. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the G-Class lost its off-road capabilities. And sadly, it became nothing more than a status symbol for millennials.
One interesting fact not many people know is that the Hummer H1 and this crazy V12-powered Italian SUV have the same DNA. In the late ’70s, the American government announced their new project to modernize their land forces with a new vehicle to replace the venerable Jeep. One of the companies that applied was Lamborghini with the Cheetah prototype.
But things got complicated, so the technology ended up in America for use by the AM General Company. They implemented the Hummer project and Lambo was left with the LM002, so they turned it into a passenger vehicle. Lambo nicknamed it “The Rambo Lambo,” and this truck was exactly that. It was the rugged, desert-going version of the supercars Lamborghini is well-known for making. The 5.2-liter unit with 400 HP was the same as you would find in the legendary Countach. For the buyers who thought that 400 HP was not enough, the factory could supply the LM002 with a 7.3-liter monster V12 engine from a racing boat.
They introduced the Land Rover in 1948 as a simple but effective off-road vehicle that was, along with the Jeep Willys, a pioneer of the segment. They built it out of necessity and the need for a capable vehicle for both military and civilian purposes. But soon, Land Rover started exporting their cars all over the world.
And as a result, millions of buyers found out how good it really was. Although they didn’t design the Land Rover Defender as a primarily military vehicle, soon it became one of the most common vehicles countless armies all over the world used.
The classic, rugged off-road looks with simple but durable mechanics, as well as a wide choice of engines including a diesel unit and uncompromised off-road capabilities are what makes this model the one to have. And fortunately, GM produced millions of them in the long production span.
The US Army used drab-green Chevrolet and GMC pickups for decades. They loved its durability and dependability in any type of road condition. Best of all, you can pick up one of these at an affordable price, so you can park a real military truck in your garage.
With a price of a half-million dollars and a weight of almost 23,000 pounds, as well as space for 10 people and military equipment, the Marauder is the perfect urban assault vehicle. Of course, it is as tall as a Greyhound bus and almost as long, too. But you can register it and drive it around town.
And, better yet, it even has a working climate control system. Even though they designed the Marauder primarily for military use, you can get one although it may take a while since the production is almost sold out.
Although it looks like a Hummer H1 rip off, the Sherpa is a serious off-road military vehicle. Renault has armored and equipped it with special floorboards, just in case you want to drive on an open minefield.
However, the price is an astronomical $272,000, and that’s just for the basic version. The Sherpa has a big 4.8-liter four-cylinder diesel that produces 215 HP. Interestingly, it has over 400 lb-ft of torque, which is a much more important figure on the battlefield.
Even though Ford never designed or intended the Mustang to be a military vehicle of any kind, during the 1982 to 1993 period it served in the U.S. Air Force. Ford introduced their SSP, or Special Service Package in the early ’80s as a police interceptor vehicle. Those Mustangs were lighter and faster than the regular ones.
Also, they packed them with heavy-duty suspensions and cooling systems. The U.S. Air Force realized that the Mustang SSP could be useful as a chase car for U-2 spy planes to help during landing and take-off procedures. They knew those fast Mustangs were what they needed to run along the side of the airplane while the co-driver communicated with the co-pilot.
All Eastern Bloc countries paid attention to the military, investing large sums of money on equipment and various vehicles. And Soviet Russia was the largest producer of all military vehicles, selling its models to fellow communist countries all around the globe. They introduced the UAZ 469 in 1971 as the successor to the GAZ 69.
It was a simple yet rugged military jeep-like vehicle. Also, they improved the 469, adding a new chassis, live axles in the front and rear, and a more powerful engine in the form of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline unit. However, despite various improvements, this was still a crude car. It was extremely durable to withstand the toughest off-road courses and military use. And the 469 was uncomfortable and simple, yet effective. And this off-roader is still in production in Russia and still in use all around the world.
The German Army needed a competent off-road vehicle in the ’70s, so Volkswagen came up with a solution in the form of the Iltis. The VW Type 181 was redundant since it had only rear-wheel drive. But the Iltis was a far better-constructed vehicle with all-wheel drive, a modern engine and lots more space.
Overall production was just under 20,000 examples, but they exported the Ilitis to several armies across the globe. The VW factory in Canada even produced 2,700 of them for the North American market. Under the hood, you will find a 1.7-liter gasoline motor or a 1.6-liter diesel engine in later versions.
Available in a 4×4 or 6×6 configuration, the Pinzgauer 710 is a highly capable military vehicle that has been in production since the early ’70s. It is also available to civilian customers and some emergency services.
They build it in Austria and test it in the Alps in all kinds of rough conditions and snowy mountain roads. The 710 is a basic military truck that is somewhat expensive. But most military vehicle enthusiasts praise it since this model is quite capable, even in war conditions.
Although Volvo is not famous for military production, in 1953 they introduced the TP21. It is an off-road army vehicle powered by a 3.6-liter, 90 HP strong straight-six engine. Volvo produced around 7,000 of them until 1958. Some were pure military models in a drab green color, while some were civilian or ambulance versions they intended for use on rough terrain.
The main amphibious vehicle of Allied Armies in the Second World War was the “Duck.” This was basically a truck with an open bed, waterproof floor and a propeller on the back. And it had the ability to carry personnel and cargo over large bodies of water.
Produced from 1942 to 1945 for use in Normandy, surprising numbers of those vehicles are still around. They are not budget-friendly, but you can use them for just about anything, from tourist tours to ferrying people across rivers.
Even though this isn’t a classic off-road vehicle you may expect from the military, it is still an interesting 6×6 truck and usable workhorse. It has a 6×6 drivetrain that can cope with the roughest terrains. Also, it can carry two people and up to 1.5 tons of cargo.
Best of all, it is fully amphibious, so you can travel over water. This vehicle can turn on a dime since it can bloc three of six wheels and make almost a 90-degree turn. The newer one costs about $60,000, but you can find an older one for as little as $15,000.
The Polaris Company is famous for its ATV-style vehicles and off-road models. However, in the last several years, the U.S. Army has shown an interest in a special ATV they designed especially for Special Forces. And it is high maneuverability on rough terrain, so Polaris responded with the MV850, a special, extremely capable ATV.
There are several interesting features of the MV850. First, it can carry up to 600 pounds and tow a small trailer if necessary. Second, it doesn’t have regular tires, but special tire-like covers that are far better on rough terrain as well as both bullet and puncture-proof.
Although civilians cannot own or operate true military vehicles, there are several tank collectors who found loopholes in their local traffic laws, managing to put license plates on their tanks. Of course, nobody can own the latest and state of the art tanks, but you can buy old tanks that don’t have working guns.
One of the most common tanks from WWII is the Sherman M4 Tank they produced in almost 50,000 examples for use by numerous armies all over the world. And a surprisingly large number of those still survive. Most are even functional, so drivers can take them out on the street. However, most owners ask over $500,000 for the roadworthy models.
These are the top 20 military vehicles you can own as a civilian. Which one do you want in your garage? You’ll definitely be the talk of the town if you own one of these vehicles.