An unusual auction of military memorabilia about to take place in the Bay Area lets members of the public bid on tanks, armed personnel carriers and even a SCUD missile.
The 8K11 Surface-to-Surface Missile up for auction is one of the only SCUD missiles in the Western hemisphere. It’s expected to fetch up to $350,000 when it hits the auction block in Portola Valley on July 12 as part of the Littlefield Collection up for bid via Auctions America. Propellant and explosives are not included.
The missile launcher is one of 114 historic 20th century combat vehicles up for auction, most of which still run, thanks to Alex O’Neal, a veteran who’s helped restore many of the historic pieces.
This mini army is one of the largest private collections of its kind, built by the late Jacques Littlefield, who was a military history buff. Most of his pieces never saw combat, but many are extremely rare.
“The opportunity here to have a bit of that history is really remarkable,” said Rob Collings, director of the The Collings Foundation, a non-profit that preserves historical military vehicles and aircraft. “In general, tanks that saw action didn’t come home.”
Not all of the armored vehicles up for auction have been demilitarized. Some are still registered guns. Of course, you’d have to find your own ordnance.
Collings and his foundation, which acquired this collection, are keeping some of the rarer pieces for a new museum in Massachusetts that will honor those who helped save the world.
One of those people that museum intends to honor is World War II veteran Tom Satour. The last time he rode inside one of the M4A1 Sherman tanks up for auction he was a kid fighting the Nazis.
At an auction preview Tuesday morning, Satour got the chance to go back inside after all this time. “I can’t even describe it for you,” Satour said.
The Littlefield Collection goes on the block July 11 and 12. It’s no reserve pricing. But pieces are expected to fetch anywhere from several thousand to well over a million dollars.
“Everyone should have a tank,” Collings said. “We say a tank in every garage."
The auction preview days, July 9 and 10, are completely open to the public. The auction itself is open to pre-registered bidders. More information is available at AuctionsAmerica.com.