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Drab Is Good: Buying A Surplus Army Truck

M715 Front Three Quarter
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted January 1, 2012

Is A Military Surplus Vehicle In Your Future?

There’s no disputing the fact that military vehicles are cool. They are the very definition of stripped-down ruggedness and they’re designed to function in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. If you’re drooling to drive some of them, the fastest way would obviously be to join the armed forces. Yes, this will probably get you in the military’s newest stuff. But is there another way? Turns out, there is. You see, over the years the U.S. government has auctioned decommissioned vehicles (as well as a whole bunch of other stuff) to the general public. This is often referred to as “surplus,” though the reality is that it’s more like “stuff we don’t need anymore.” Be aware though that any vehicle or thing deemed unsafe for public use (or unsafe for public roads) is rendered inoperable. Many types of vehicles that make us wheelers olive drab with envy have been sold, and they range from SUVs to pickups to even larger vehicles.

Naturally, the first vehicle that comes to mind is the Humvee. Do you fantasize about a retired Up-Armor Humvee parked in your driveway next to the boat and minivan? Well, good luck with that. We have been told that no serviceable Humvees are supposed to be sold outside the military. With that said, there have been some Humvees sold at public auction, but it’s very rare. You can find some Humvees for sale on the Internet, though they’re very expensive.

If you desire a rugged, affordable, retired military vehicle, we’ve compiled a few of the most popular along with their specifications (as best as we can determine). There are actually a number of places to purchase these decommissioned military vehicles and they’re only a few clicks away on the Internet. You can peruse a list of some of them in the accompanying sidebar. One of the leading sources is Boyce Equipment in Ogden, Utah. Boyce has been in business for over 40 years and the company knows the ins and outs of military vehicles. Boyce’s knowledge is astonishing and the company offers turnkey trucks as well as a vast number of parts. Boyce can put you in a titled, ready-to-drive military vehicle and the company can support you with parts after the sale. Boyce even offers custom vehicles like the M35A2 Bobber that you have to see to believe.

So whether you’re looking for a daily driver, cool trail machine, or you just want to drive the most unique rig in your neighborhood, you may want to consider a military truck. The only thing drab about these rigs is the paint.

The M1009, based on the Chevy Blazer, was one of the Commercial Cargo Utility Vehicle (CUCV) program vehicles that provided the military with a light utility vehicle that was less expensive than the purpose-built vehicles the military had been using. GM provided these vehicles from 1984 to 1986. The M1009 was often used for tactical mobility or as a command and control vehicle. It’s basically a ¾-ton Blazer and it used the heaviest-duty GM springs available for the chassis. Under the M1009 is a pair of six-lug, GM 10-bolt axles. Power came from a naturally-aspirated 6.2L diesel engine and it was fed through a durable TH400 three-speed automatic transmission to a chain-drive NP208 transfer case. The M1009 had dual alternators because the vehicle had a 12/24-volt electrical system. If you buy one of these don’t expect carpet or air conditioning because they don’t have either one. Some of their included equipment did include gun racks, front and rear shackles bolted to reinforced framerails, and a pintle hitch. If you’re thinking of purchasing an M1009 inspect the 10-bolt axles to make sure the axletubes haven’t spun in the centersection (it can happen) and plan that the centrifugal force-triggered Gov-Loc differential probably won’t work. Also check the NP208 transfer case chain condition and make sure the thin aluminum case isn’t damaged. If the truck came from the Rust Belt, check the body tub floor and rockers to make sure they aren’t rusted through because this is a common problem. Also, don’t be surprised if the glow plugs have swelled, as this is also a common problem and can make removal challenging, though not impossible. M1009 pricing varies depending on the condition and the seller. Average Boyce Equipment pricing for a stock, titled, drivable M1009 is approximately $5,500.

The Details
Model: M1009
Engine: 6.2L V-8 diesel
Displacement (in): 379
Horsepower/torque: 135/240
Transmission: TH400 3-spd auto
Transfer case: NP208 2-spd
Low range ratio: 2.60:1
Crawl ratio: 19.9:1
Axles f/r: Corporate 10-bolt/Corporate 10-bolt, Eaton Gov-Loc
Axle ratio: 3.08:1
Brakes f/r: Disc/drum
Electrical system: 12/24-volt dual voltage w/100-amp alternator
Tires: 10.00R15.0LT
Length/width/height (in): 191.8/79.6/74.9
Weight (lb): 5,200
Fuel capacity (gal): 27
Top speed (mph): 55

The M715 1¼-ton truck, based on the Jeep Gladiator, was produced by Kaiser Jeep from 1967 through 1969. It replaced the Dodge M37 and its successor was the Dodge M880. The vehicle saw service mostly in Vietnam and Korea. It had several variants including the M724 cab/chassis, M725 ambulance, and M726 telephone maintenance truck. The M715 used a militarized Tornado 230ci I-6 engine and it was backed by a heavy-duty Borg-Warner T-98 top-load four-speed manual transmission that had a 6.39:1 First gear ratio. A divorced NP200 transfer case offered a 1.97:1 low range ratio. Combined with the 5.38:1 axle ratio, the M715 had a crawl ratio of 67.7:1. The trucks body varied slightly from the civilian Gladiator and the bed was specific to the military. Today, M715s are getting harder to find due to their long-gone production date, but they’re still out there. If you’re considering buying an M715, give the Tornado engine a thorough inspection because due to high rpm’s created by the 5.38:1 axle gearing they have been known to tire quickly if driven on the highway a lot. Also be aware that both the front and rear axles are open so you’ll want to get a locker or limited-slip differential. Finally, the thick spring packs made for a rough ride and little flex. M715 pricing varies depending on where you find ’em and what condition they’re in. Average Boyce Equipment pricing for a stock, titled, drivable M715 is in the $5,000 range.

The Details
Model: M715
Engine: Tornado I-6
Displacement (in): 230.5
Horsepower/torque: 140/210
Transmission: Borg-Warner T-98 4-spd manual
Transfer case: Divorced NP200 2-spd
Low range ratio: 1.97:1
Crawl Ratio: 67.7:1
Axles f/r: Dana 60/Dana 70 full-float
Axle ratio: 5.38:1
Brakes f/r: Drum/drum
Electrical system: 24-volt (two 12V batteries in series)
Tires: 9.00x16.0
Length/width/height (in): 220.75 (with winch)/85.0/87.7 (with cargo cover)
Weight (lb): 5,180
Fuel capacity (gal): 28
Top speed (mph): 55


Boyce Equipment
Ogden, UT 84401
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