GMC DUKW Heads To Auction

Mar 16, 2021 3 min read
GMC DUKW Heads To Auction

Use this for your next amphibious assault mission…

It’s not every day you get a chance to own one of the legendary GMC DUKW, an amphibious truck developed for WWII. During the war, the United States produced a shocking number of vehicles and an equally shocking array of vehicles, constantly keeping the Axis powers on their toes. After all, when you never know what strange contraption the enemy will roll out onto the battlefield next, it’s difficult to be prepared. The GMC DUKW was one of the wilder designs and it helped address one of the most difficult components of the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific.

See a Willys MB Jeep go on an epic off-road trek here.

Amphibious assaults are dangerous, messy things for the invading force as clearly illustrated in the first action sequence of Saving Private Ryan. When troops have to disembark from landing craft onto the shore they’re pretty much sitting ducks, unless armor is already present. That’s where the DUKW came into play, allowing soldiers to go from the water to driving on the beach without leaving the safety of the vehicle.

photo credit: Bonhams

Originally designed by Rod Stephens Jr, a famous yacht designer from Sparkman & Stephens, along with Frank W. Speir of MIT and Dennis Puleston, a British deep-water sailor, the DUKW was created to be tough. It had to be capable or transporting over 2 tons of troops and supplies not only across the water but also over rough terrain. The tires had to negotiate soft, sandy beaches and muddy jungle floors without becoming stuck. Perhaps most critical and challenging, the DUKW had to be made in mass quickly, so the design had to be simple as well as effective.

photo credit: Bonhams

The best way to design something which works is to base it off something else which works. That’s why the base of this amphibious truck is the GMC CCKW military truck, the famous transport with three axles and six-wheel drive.

Added to the chassis is a steel hull made watertight for buoyancy. Thanks to the flat bottom and sides, it was stable even in rough waters. The sloped bow and stern allowed the DUKW excellent approach and departure angles so it could climb obstacles without getting hung up.

photo credit: Bonhams

Thousands of these GMC DUKWs were produced for troops from the United States, England, Australia, and even the Soviet Union. Quite a few survive the war, with many of the American units used again during the Korean War. However, with the passage of time many have been lost for different reasons. Of those which have survived, a fair degree are used by search and rescue teams or tourist sightseeing operations, so you don’t run across one for sale often at all.

photo credit: Bonhams

This particular GMC DUKW will cross the auction block at Bonhams’ MPH March Auction on March 20. It’s estimated to fetch between $25,000 and $28,000 USD. According to the lot listing, it’s been serviced and maintained by military engineers and was in service with the 19 Amphibious Squadron of the Royal Corps of Transport. It might have been part of the D Day invasion, although no records of it doing so exist.

After successfully serving, this DUKW was put in the Royal Corps of Transport Museum in the early 1970s. From there it’s been on display in several museums but has been property of the Ministry of Defence. In other words, this vehicle comes with extensive documentation of its history, so if you want an interesting military vehicle you know everything about, this could be the ticket. Plus, if you live near water this would be one wild ride to play around with.

Check out the listing here.

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