Big money vehicle collectors can take all sorts of interesting twists and turns as buyers find a focus. For Jacques Littlefield in Northern California, that focus was military vehicles--tanks and tracked trucks in particular, and he spent more than 30 years amassing one of the world's best private collections of armored automobilia.
Sadly, no amount of heavy machinery can frighten off our human end, and after Littlefield died, his family was left with a very large, very heavy collection. In order to preserve some of Littlefield's vision and work, the entire collection was donated to the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts. The Collings group runs those awesome vintage warplane shows and rides, and a series of other events meant to showcase American history through its technology. Now, donating a massive collection to a museum doesn't guarantee its safety. It costs money to move and maintain things, especially things that weigh upwards of 70 tons, so the Collings Foundation has picked some of the key pieces from the Littlefield property, and the rest are being auctioned off this weekend to raise the money to house and showcase the chosen vehicles.
The folks from Auctions America kindly invited us up a day before the Littlefield Military Vehicle Auction to climb around on tanks and fantasize about Jay Leno-like hotrods we could build with massive V-12s and radial engines. If nothing else, we really want to put a Sand/Coral/Hiway gauge in something, ala the ocean-going DUKW.
If you have money and a desire for something heavy, head up to Portola, California this week and throw a bid at the Littlefield Military Vehicle Auction. Bid on the brand-new very old Ford flathead (was vacuum sealed until just recently), or maybe, if you like the idea of tracks, but prefer a little less bloody history to your collectibles, there is the '20s-era Citroen Kegresse, possibly the first half-track car ever. We want it really bad.
All the big hitters (literally) of two world wars and more recent skirmishes are here, beefy brawlers named after sleek animals, Ferrets, Lynx, Tiger, Panther, and the Gama Goat. Familiar human names make appearances too, Patton and Sherman, Abrams and Stalin and Churchill. Hot rodders will notice Ford and GM and Chrysler's work on engine covers and info plates. Hard to believe a small block Chevy could power an armored vehicle, but there they are, chugging away. Take warning from a close look at the German engineering though, roller main bearings may look amazing, but they won't win you a war.
Here's a big gallery of parts, pieces and off road vehicles from the Littlefield Military Vehicle Auction, and when we say big, we mean that! The hardest thing to capture is the scale of both the collection and the individual parts. There are engines so big you could put your head in the bores, tanks with guns the length of a swimming pool. Heck, there is a SCUD missile launcher for goodness sakes! It's really big. Head over to the Auctions America website for more, or for results next week.