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Seven military vehicles you can buy

  • ...and one you can't

    In 1944, Willys set about creating a civilian version of the US Army’s quarter-ton jeep. The first model available to the car-buying public, the CJ-2A (CJ-1 and CJ-2 were prototype designations), went on sale in July 1945, and its success would usher in other military-to-civilian transitions, notably Land Rover’s Series 1 (1948), Volkswagen’s Type 181 “Thing” (1968) and General Motors’ Hummer H1 (1992). These vehicles’ heroic reputation and all-conquering capability have cemented their appeal among all manner of outdoors enthusiasts, hip-hop personalities and playboy despots. In their spirit, we present a septet of military trucks a civilian can buy – sans weaponry – along with a look at a vehicle that is gunning to become the next US military truck (and to someday spawn a Schwarzenegger-calibre civilian version of its own). (Photo: Go-Ped Knightrider, courtesy Go-Ped Tactical Division)

    This story, which originally appeared on BBC Autos in October 2013, is updated occasionally. The most recent update arrived on 28 July 2014.

  • Renault Sherpa

    Country of origin: France

    Briefing: Renault’s mighty Sherpa owes its appeal not only to the olive drab versions piloted by French and NATO soldiers, but to the charismatic appearances of the civilian model in the grueling Dakar Rally. Available by special order in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, the non-military Sherpa can be had as an unarmoured station wagon or pickup, or, for war-zone duty, a fully-armoured wagon. Power comes from a deafening 4.76-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Its 215hp and 590lb-ft of torque reach all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

    Price (UAE): Approximately 1m dirham ($272,000)

    (Photo: Renault Trucks)

  • GAZ Tigr

    Country of origin: Russia

    Briefing: That the military Tigr bears a passing resemblance to the American Humvee is, to the Russian truck’s vociferous fans, nothing more than coincidence. Beneath its expansive hood rumbles a 5.9-litre diesel engine, which meets a six-speed manual transmission and permanent four-wheel-drive. Production of the civilian Tigr – which can soften its brutality with the addition of such creature comforts as leather, air conditioning and a thumping audio system – is hardly a top priority for GAZ, and acquiring one is neither simple nor inexpensive, but a successful buyer is fairly guaranteed to be the only Tigr-tamer in his okrestnosti.

    Price (Russia): approximately 3.5m rubles ($110,000)

    (Photo: GAZ Group)

  • Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6

    Country of origin: Austria

    Briefing: As production vehicles go, the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, otherwise known as the G Class, is ancient. Merely revised during more than 30 years of production, this bricklike military machine in a civilian paintjob still manages to capture the imagination of those who dream of traffic parting with their approach – business tycoons, action-film stars, the Pope. Like the “standard” G63 AMG, the new G63 AMG 6x6 packs a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine producing 536hp and 560lb-ft of torque. The engine meets the six-by-six drivetrain from Mercedes’ hulking Zetros truck, yielding 15.75in of ground clearance – sufficient to ford water as deep as 40in. Getting behind the wheel of this ultimate G Class, unless you happen to be, say, a James Bond villain, will be tricky. The vehicle is not (legally) destined for North America or right-hand-drive countries, and Mercedes has promised that production volume will be “very small”.

    Price (Germany, exclusive of VAT): 379,000 euros (approximately $523,000)

    (Photo: Daimler)

  • Paramount Marauder

    Country of origin: South Africa

    Briefing: Ten tonnes of South African stoutness, the Marauder is possessed of a double-skin monocoque that helps it resist virtually all forms of light-arms fire, as well as the occasional anti-tank mine. It also, as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond learned, is rather good as a city runabout – provided the pilot steers clear of fast-food drive-throughs.

    Price: $485,000

    (Photo: Paramount Group)

  • Polaris MV850 TerrainArmor Edition

    Country of origin: United States

    Briefing: Designed to thwart “enemy ballistics, treacherous terrain and other mission-crippling obstacles”, the MV850, from US-based Polaris Industries, is the first military ATV to make use of non-pneumatic tires. The company promises that the single-seat trucklet’s TerrainArmor tires, invented by Wisconsin-based Resilient Technologies, can shake off shots from a .50-calibre gun or penetration by a railroad spike, even while carrying a full combat load. In both the MV850 and its equally tenacious civilian counterpart, the WV850, a 77-horsepower, 850cc two-cylinder engine is matched to a single-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. With TerrainArmor's proven survivability on the battlefield, it's a safe bet that the US military is looking closely at non-pneumatic tires for bigger machines, including the coming replacement for the Hummer.

    Price: $15,000 (WV850)

    (Photo: Polaris Defense)

  • Supacat LRV 400

    Country of origin: Britain

    Briefing: The Qt Wildcat – formerly known as the Bowler Wildcat – is a Land Rover Defender-based cross-country rally runner. The new Supacat LRV 400 is the military version of the Wildcat, and it delivers the rally car’s high-speed all-terrain capability in a somewhat more weaponised package. Perfect for special forces teams, border patrol agencies and the like, the LRV (which stows neatly aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for easy transport) packs a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine from Ford that’s good for 236 horsepower, although buyers may opt for gasoline V8 engines producing as much as 640hp. Top speed with the standard diesel is 106mph, but the addition of a armour plates, winches and a roof-mounted .50-calibre machine gun may sap performance a bit.

    Price: approximately $250,000

    (Photo: Supacat Limited)

  • Go-Ped Knightrider

    Country of origin: US/Israel

    Briefing: A scooter on the battlefield? Roger that. Meet the Knightrider, from US scooter-maker Go-Ped. It may bear a passing resemblance to the neighbour kid’s Razor, but don’t be fooled: this two-wheeler is no toy.

    Based on Go-Ped’s Hoverboard civilian electric scooter and the police-spec ESR-750 Portable Patrol Vehicle, the matte-black Knightrider was designed for stealthy special-forces maneuvers over hostile terrain, with fat knobby tires and a long-travel cantilever-style suspension. The Knightrider’s lithium-ion polymer battery pack and “Torkinator” electric motor deliver a maximum cruising range of 25 miles and a top speed – thanks to a short-burst Turbo mode – of 19mph.

    So who is using the Knightrider? That’s strictly need-to-know, according to Go-Ped. Says Tactical Division chief executive Dr Ran Lapid: “I can only confirm that the Knightrider was tested by the most prestigious special ops commando units in the world.”

    Price: NA (Go-Ped ESR-750 Portable Patrol Vehicle, $4,700)

    (Photo: Go-Ped Tactical Division)

  • Oshkosh L-ATV

    Country of origin: United States

    Briefing: How to replace a fleet of aging Humvees that numbers in the tens of thousands? With a bit of technological derring-do. Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense has developed the L-ATV prototype to pick up where the Humvee has left off, carrying a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain that allows the purpose-built vehicle to run near-silent when missions require it. The US government has taken delivery of 22 L-ATV prototypes for testing, but civilian sales do not figure in Oshkosh’s immediate product plans.

    Price: N/A

    (Photo: Oshkosh Defense)

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