The US Army’s Jeep was the first military vehicle to make the transition to civvy street.
Its success would usher in a new breed of go-anyhere vehicles for military and civilian use, starting with the Land Rover in 1948.
The Volkswagen Kubelwagen came later, along with the Toyota Landcruiser, Nissan Patrol, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen … others followed.
General Motors’ Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle), initially designed for the US military and used amid much publicity in the Gulf war in the early 1990s, began a whole new trend.
It is pictured above with a rocket launcher. Every wannabe Rambo wanted a Humvee. A civilian Hummer H1 version soon appeared and later the H2 and H3 further fueled demand.
Now the US Army’s Hummer is to be replaced. The front runner is the Oshkosh L-ATV. But Oshkosh has no plans for a civilian version.
Here are a handful of go-anywhere vehicles used by the military that civilians can get their hands on – minus weapons.
Like the WW2 Willys Jeep that would become the Jeep Wrangler, the Land Rover Defender has evolved over its 65-year history, but has never jettisoned an ounce of capability. Available in hard-top, double-cab, pick-up and bare-chassis configurations, the Defender is found around the globe, with some 55,000 units in active military service. Price: From NZ$63,000
It owes its appeal not only to the olive drab versions piloted by French and NATO soldiers, but to the appearances of the civilian model in the Dakar Rally. Available by special order in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, the non-military Sherpa can be had as an unarmoured station wagon or pick-up, or, for war-zone duty, a fully-armoured wagon. Power comes from a 4.76-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Its 160kW and 790Nm of torque reach all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Price: About NZ$325,000
That the military Tigr bears a passing resemblance to the American Humvee is, to the Russian truck’s vociferous fans, nothing more than coincidence. Beneath its expansive hood rumbles a 5.9-litre diesel engine, which meets a six-speed manual transmission and permanent four-wheel-drive. Production of the civilian Tigr – which can soften its brutality with the addition of such creature comforts as leather, air conditioning and a thumping audio system – is hardly a top priority for GAZ. But buying one is not simple. Price: About NZ$135,000
The Gelandewagen, or “cross-country vehicle”, has been around in one form or another for more than 30 years. This brick-like six-wheel version comes with a civilian paint job. Like the “standard” G63 AMG, the new G63 AMG 6×6 packs a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine producing 400kW and 750Nm. It’s based on the six-by-six drivetrain from the company’s Zetros truck and has a claimed wading depth of just over 1m. The vehicle is left-hand drive only. Mercedes-Benz says production volume will be “very small”. Price: About NZ$630,000
The 10-tonne South African-built Marauder is a double-skin monocoque design that helps it resist virtually all forms of light-arms fire, as well as the occasional anti-tank mine. It’s available as a 4×4 or 6×6 and its Cummins diesel engine delivers 176kW and 925Nm of torque. TV’s Top Gear tested it against the civilian Hummer H3, eventually putting 3kg of plastic explosive under both vehicles. The H3 was destroyed, the Marauder suffered minor damage. Price: About NZ$585,000
Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense has developed the L-ATV prototype to pick up where the military Humvee has left off. The L-ATV uses a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain that allows the purpose-built vehicle to run near-silent when missions require it. The US government has taken delivery of 22 L-ATV prototypes for testing, but civilian sales do not figure in Oshkosh’s immediate product plans. Price: N/A