Want a Project? Here’s a Half-Track that Needs Everything

Every so often, we find something at auction that cries out for just the right buyer. This early World War II halftrack is just such a case.

m2-overview

m2-6120As you can see, this M2 (serial number 6120 of about 13,500 M2s made from 1940 to 1943) is lacking all its armor aft of the A pillar, plus the windshield assembly, plus all the stuff that was attached there. It does have an intact driveline that needs maintenance but does work — pretty amazing after at least 73 years.

One of the most interesting things is the original 6-cylinder flathead motor, still trucking after all these years. If you look closely right of center, you can see the “White” script trademark cast into the engine block.

m2-motor

This picture shows the other side of the motor in its native habitat:

m2-original-motor

Reproduction and restoration parts for halftracks are available, but you see what we mean when we say this vehicle needs the right buyer. (Welding and riveting skills a plus!)

While the body is mostly missing (lets you pick your own variant, perhaps), the office looks pretty much untouched since GI Joe last turned it in.

m2-office

The M2 was used as an artillery tractor, mechanized MG squad bus, and reconnaissance track, whilst the more common M3 (~45k built) and less common International Harvester M5 and M9 (~11,000 built) were mostly used as infantry carriers. All variants of halftrack were made into specialized AA, field artillery / tank destroyer, and other special-purpose vehicles, and many of them were supplied to American allies both under Lend-Lease and postwar.

They soldiered on with Israel through the Yom Kippur War, and served in South America into the 21st Century. Bolivia still may operate some ex-Argentine models (or they may have run out of spares, always a problem for the poorest nation on the continent).

How this one¬†wound up at a US Government auction this month, with a minimum bid of $7,000, is anybody’s guess, but there’s a hell of a story in there.

Minimum bid is $7k, and you’ll have to pay a 10% kicker and Illinois state taxes, and remove it within eight days of the auction close (which is 28 September).

M2 Half Track Truck
ITEM NUMBER 766646
LOCATION
Maywood, Illinois, United States. 60153
AUCTION DATE
Sep 28, time TBD

METER READING 41 Hours
SERIAL # M2 6120
White 6 Cylinder Engine, Manual Transmission, Stake Sides, Bench Seating, Tool Box, Additional Undercarriage Components

via Surplus M2 Half Track Truck in Maywood, Illinois, United States (GovPlanet Item #766646).

It does seem to have a second flatbed-load of bogie and idler wheels and other gear, all of which look like they could use overhaul. At that link there are over 100 photos and a video of the motor running (it’s image number 55 if you want to skip ahead in the gallery).

If you buy it, we’ll come out to Illinois and help you load it!

8 thoughts on “Want a Project? Here’s a Half-Track that Needs Everything

  1. Sommerbiwak

    Looks like a fun project to restore. Though I would just overhaul and paint it and keep the flatbed with sofa as is. It is part of its story. Looks like a great vehicle for excursions or old war vehicle meetings to drive guests around.

    Sadly I do not live in the US. And the paperwork for import to Germany as notionally an armoured vehicle would be a nightmare…

  2. John M.

    Were halftracks any good for anything? They seem like the worst of both worlds. They also seem to have gone out of style.

    -John M.

    1. Sommerbiwak

      Yes,yes they are good. They are more mobile in rough terrain than wheeled trucks and more or less as easy to build as normal trucks. And without fancy clutch arrangements you get a decent offroad performance. Nowadays with cheaper gear boxes and electronic helpers these advantages are less needed as wheked trucks can go most places a half track can go. Although there are kits nowadays to replace the four wheels on an off road truck with tracks to gain lower ground pressure. But that is a niche application and normal wheels plus all wheel drive plus modern gear boxes and electronic assistance are enough for like 99% of situations.

      1. RSR

        Look at the surface area of the tracks vs surface area of wheels in contact with the ground. Think of halftracks sort of like having snowshoes that better support, don’t as quickly sink into, soft ground… Especially important as the weight being hauled by the vehicle increases….
        There are propulsion benefits as well as Sommerbiwak notes.

        Tracks are more difficult and time consuming to repair than simply changing a tire, but during WW2, natural rubber was in very limited supply and a precious commodity, so all things considered using metal instead of rubber was probably a net materiel gain.
        Synthetic rubber from petroleum was first created in quantity during WW2 b/c of the shortage in natural rubber from SE Asia and synthetic rubber, not the natural stuff, has become “rubber” as we know it today…

        1. Hognose Post author

          The primary ingredient in halftrack tracks was (and is) rubber. Most operators worldwide (museums, collectors) are still working off tracks the Israelis made, and surplused when they finally retired the ancient vehicles.

  3. 11B-Mailclerk

    Put Granny and Ellie Mae seated on the couch in back, Jed riding shotgun, and Jethro driving. That track almost looks like a prop from The Beverly Hillbillies.

  4. Raoul Duke

    Go to halftracks DOT com.

    You can buy all the parts to resurrect this beast…and be amazed at how much “project” units cost these days.

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