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The 'infamous' "$50 G503 in a crate" story..


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My main reason to argue it could not have happened is that they vehicles I have seen listed in 1940s surplus sales lists tended to have a set price that was apparently assigned based on factors such as condition, milage, etc. And the they seemed to be starting at around the $200-400 mark in 1946/1947 dollars. Since civilian motor vehicle production was halted (with a few exceptions) in 1942, it meant that the only cars on the road were those made up to 1942. By 1945 when the manufacturing restriction was eased and then lifted, many cars were worn out or had been damaged beyond repair. New cars and homes were in big demand at the end of WWII and both were in very short supply.

 

In 1946 when they were surplusing G503s, they set many of them aside for veterans and farmers who met the qualifications to purchase. They had to register for the sale, and jump through some hoops, and then as often was the case in that time immediately after the war, they found out that the demand exceeded the supply. Anyway, if you could really buy a G503 new in a crate for $50 back then, then why were they going to all the trouble to purchase one for hundreds of dollars (and even at those prices, it may have been a very used vehicle) instead? Now the surplus price lists I have seen all had set lot prices; not auctions. An auction is the only case I think it could have happened, and even then it must have meant unusual conditions to have happened, if it ever happened at all and isn't the myth most believe it to be.

 

What do you think, possible or total myth?

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I'll check it out. Interesting topic, and my gut says myth...

Looking for the following:

452nd and 447th Bomb Group items

Anything 12th Armored- especially uniforms

155th Assault Helicopter Company, Camp Coryell, or Ban Me Thuot Vietnam items[/center]


WWII US Navy Uniforms from the Battle Off Samar: USS Johnston DD-557, USS Hoel DD-553, USS Samuel B. Roberts DE-413, USS Heermann DD-532, USS Dennis DE-405, USS John C. Butler DE-339, USS Raymond DE-341, USS Fanshaw Bay St. Lo, White Plains, Kalinin Bay, Kitkun Bay and Gambier Bay...


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  • 2 weeks later...

My Grampa Pearl Calvin Law was a civilian Captain during WW2 and ran the AAF Storage Depot at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus Ohio. This facility was tasked with shipping, receiving, repairing, vehicles, aircraft etc. throughout WW2. I have attached a photograph of my Grampa and his AAFSD patch which stands for Army Air Force Storage Depot. He always had some really interesting stories about his experiences at the depot and I always enjoyed hearing them. As a coincidence, as I was growing up and became interested in WW2 militaria, I heard about the 50$ Jeep in a Crate story and asked him about it. He told me that after the war that the US Government did indeed sell off a supply of "Jeeps in a Crate" as surplus to the civilian market. When I asked him about the possibility of me buying one and him helping me assemble it, he told me he did not think there were anymore crates around. But he mentioned an important point that may be of interest here. He told me "Bobby" you wouldn't have wanted one of those Jeeps anyways, because all of the Jeep rubber parts in those crates were damaged/disintegrated over the storage period and would all have to be replaced before you could use the Jeep. So maybe that may explain why the new $50 Crate Jeeps were not desired for vehicles that were going to be actually assembled and operated, compared to running/maintained used surplus vehicles.

 

I just thought I would add a little more perspective to this myth.

 

Bob

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"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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As a coincidence Ebay Auction 264271367871 contains a photo of a Jeep partially assembled and in a crate like shipping container. The auction description addresses the question of the discussed Jeeps in Crates subject and they dismiss them as a rumor or scam. I know what my Grampa told me, but you be your own judge with the available information.

 

Bob

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb, bastard die for his country" George Pattons speech to the Third Army.

 

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  • 3 months later...
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Always looking for uniquely marked helmets, WWI and WWII American Field Service items, WWII and earlier USMC items and named or numbered medals and medal groups.


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There were never any $50 jeeps in a crate. A simple search on this forum will show you that even beat up jeeps were fetching quite a bit more at surplus auctions in 1946. This is a lie put out to sell information on how to buy a jeep, yes a pamphlet that you can get from the government for free. Now maybe the M151s you could get for $50. after they had been cut in to an "X" and were totally worthless. Yes Jeeps were crated for shipment during the war, but I have yet to see any proof of one being purchased by a civilian, I have heard stories from families and even heard that part of a crate was found with a Jeep that was sold recently, but not one scintilla of proof the government ever sold crated Jeeps to the public, why would they???? There were literally hundreds of thousands of surplus Jeeps, those would go firs, not crated Jeeps. After 40 years being in this hobby, I have never seen a crated Jeep so I can assure they do not exist (unless you want to dive on shipwrecks where there are thousands of them). One other point, why would all the rubber parts be damaged? I have found several Jeeps that still have their WWII issue radiator hoses and gas tank padding, sorry, I don't believe any of it.

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I can add some info, pertaining to the jeep trailers. UHaul after the war ended up with tens of thousands of Bantam 1/4 ton trailers straight from the government. They modified them for civilian use, and a few are still to be found in fields and wrecking yards. My understanding on the crated Jeeps was they were sold in huge lots ( thousands) to private companies which in turn sold them one at a time to the general public. They uncrate them, got them running, then put them up for sale. Makes sense, why sell one at a time to JQ Public when you could sell lots of thousands to resale companies?

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  • 1 year later...

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Post war Jeep sales . . . . . . . . . .  1946

 

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. lewis.

 

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Young enough to care and enjoy militaria - Old enough to remember as surplus

 

" Life's too short for reproductions "

 

 

Life is like a tank of gas, the closer you get to a quarter tank, the faster it goes 

 

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This is what those cheep jeeps were used for. Farmers after the war put them to use. I don't know that they paid 50 bucks for them, but farmers are frugal. When I was a boy going cross country with my folks to see my kin I would see worn out jeeps among the other worn out vehicles on the fence line of farmers fields all the time all over the country. We would go from Cali. to Ga. to Minn. then back home every Christmas back in the late 60's early 70's.

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42 minutes ago, P-59A said:

This is what those cheep jeeps were used for. Farmers after the war put them to use. I don't know that they paid 50 bucks for them, but farmers are frugal. When I was a boy going cross country with my folks to see my kin I would see worn out jeeps among the other worn out vehicles on the fence line of farmers fields all the time all over the country. We would go from Cali. to Ga. to Minn. then back home every Christmas back in the late 60's early 70's.

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All those jeeps pictured are the CJ series, post WWII made for the commercial market. Maybe one is an exception, but is an early CJ that still has the channels for the pioneer tools, but notice the brackets for the top bows on the drivers side. This jeep is the one with the plow in the front.

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I have been collecting WWII military items (mostly US) for 40 years.  In that time, I have found many items in crates.  Here is a list of things I have owned, currently own, or have on hand as consignment from customers:

US NEA-3 24V aircraft generators

USN Lawrance 2D Auxiliary Power Plants (I have some of these for sale)

US Model 1940 water purification units

US Model PR-1 Aircraft Refueler

Early WWII US 6V Battery Charging Generators

NOS Indian Model 841 Motorcycle Power plant (complete)

National Cash Register K3 Aircraft gun sight (for Boeing B-17 Sperry top turret)

Vultee BT-13 lower flap gear boxes

700 Flap and Landing Gear Gauges shipped to the Glenn L. Martin company for the last Martin B-26 Marauder contract

Stinson Division, Consolidated Vultee L-5 fuel tank

Coleman gasoline lantern gas generators (I am selling some of these on ebay right now)

 

This is just what I can think of off hand, this moment, without doing much thought.  I have seen much, much more from WWII and immediately after WWII which was re-boxed and crated for shipment to Korea or overseas NATO nation stock.  Now, to be perfectly honest and to go towards an assertion I am about to make, the water purification units were removed from the crates and the crates burned before I had them in my hands.  But I know the person who owned them, and he purchased them in the crates.  They took up so much room, he had to remove them from the crates in order to fit into his storage.  

 

I think that is your real reason for not seeing, detecting, having evidence of, rumor of, or war stories of the jeep in a crate.  Depression kids and other generations didn't keep something around if it was worth money or could be put to use.  After WWII, everybody thought there was going to be a return of the depression.  So they got real industrious about things, and I think that meant that jeeps in a crate would be taken out of the crate and put to work, right away.  With the shortage of transportation, there was no good reason to keep an asset like that in a crate.   

 

I think that Pearl Calvin Law gives us more evidence of their actual existence.  On September 1st, 1945, I would assert that there were jeeps, crated and partially crated, ready to go into the pipeline of transport to ETO, PTO, MTO, CBI, Okinawa for Operations Olympic and Coronet, or anywhere an MB/GPW was needed.  That conveyor belt did not cease to operate.  In fact, it was also working in reverse- equipment was already being sent back to the US for overhaul and re-deployment to PTO.  (My Stinson L-5 was part of that movement ultimately).  But at some point, they stopped shipping jeeps because they just didn't need them as much any more.  Ones partially crated were put back together.  As the War Assets Administration (WAA) began to get rid of stuff through all kinds of sales, I speculate that there were a few crated jeeps in the system.  Since there were all kinds of contracts being finished up at all the war plants and material processing centers, the last duty of some of the employees might have been to open up the crates and put the jeeps back together (who better to do the job than the ones who had done it professionally during the war) to be sold.   

 

If you want to cast doubt on the $50.00 price, I do agree with you that based on auction results, $50.00 is too low for a WWII jeep.  But in 1945, there were jeeps in a crate.  What happened to them is all speculation, and due to the lack of records at most of the places they might be found, we will probably never definitively know for sure that a jeep in a crate was sold at auction or through one of the special sales of the WAA.  The only way I could see real evidence of one showing up would be to find one of the sales brochures listing jeeps in overseas packaging, or a photograph of a crated jeep at one of the sale sites.  I think either of these are very, very remote possibilities.  I don't think people took pictures of people buying stuff at auction in those days, and the sales brochures are rare to find in general.  

 

I have added photos of the K3 gun sight because I had them handy.  Believe it, lots of stuff was crated and sold after WWII in crates.  Just because we don't have easily available evidence of the jeeps in crates sold like that, don't discount the possibility that they existed and were sold that way.  

 

 

 

 

 

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My father claimed he went to a surplus sale at Camp Clark, Missouri after the war and he saw crated jeeps going for $50 each BUT they were in lots of 10 or more. Single assembled used jeeps went for much more.

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