Surplus military Humvees heading to the highway?



It just got a little easier to take the ultimate off-roader onto the street.

Last December, the Defense Logistics Agency began selling off surplus military Humvees to the public for the first time through auction site, which is operated by used heavy equipment sales outfit IronPlanet.

Since then, over 1,100 have been purchased for prices as high as $41,000, with the government pocketing 75.29 percent of the proceeds. And thousands more are on the way.

Their popularity has been stronger than expected despite the fact that the trucks were approved for off-road use only, making it exceedingly difficult to legalize them for street use. But now that’s changed.

Moving forward, all of the Humvees sold through the auction will come with GSA form SF97-1, which allows the buyer to obtain a title for their truck. This is the first step toward registering one for the road, and also makes it easier to insure and resell the vehicles.

IronPlanet VP of operations Randy Berry says the forms will also be retroactively issued to all of the Humvees that have previously been sold, as well, and expects this to increase their resale value while leading to higher bids at future auctions.

Of course, there’s more to making an ex-military machine street legal than simply getting it titled. Regulations vary state to state, but the biggest hurdle is often passing an emission test. That’s particularly true in California and the states that mimic its emission laws.

Gale Banks has been helping the U.S. Military upgrade its Humvees for improved performance for years, so he knows a few things about their engines. His company, Banks Power, is already working on a kit for the surplus trucks that would swap in a brand new GM Duramax Diesel V8 and six-speed transmission tuned to 420 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque that meets current emissions standards, but the real trick is bringing the original engines up to snuff.

The problem, according to Banks, is that military vehicles don’t technically have model years, and are exempt from smog rules while they’re in service. So, unless a state recognizes a truck’s build date as the model year, there’s really no way to pin down its smog designation and suggest the required modifications to the stock motor. Given the number of vehicles on the way, he’s hopeful a solution can be found.

In the meantime, the steady flow of demilitarized, un-armored and un-armed Humvees in troop and cargo carrying configurations cycling through continues. Interested customers need to clear a trade security background check to submit bids.