Months ago the military announced they’d auction off retired Hummers to the masses through surplus site GovPlanet.com and there was much rejoicing. The process of actually obtaining and licensing your “new” war machine is still murky, but it can be done. Here’s a closer look.

The harder I try to put together a comprehensive guide to road-registering a surplus army vehicle, the more I hear “you just gotta get lucky.” But luck comes from preparation. So we talked to a surplus-Hummer owner who actually got license plates on his truck to find out what prospective owners might do for a better chance at making their own Hummer-driving dreams come true.

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Unfortunately, even after mounting state-issued plates on his truck, our contact was still so skeptical about the process that he asked to remain anonymous. Doesn’t speak volumes about the legitimacy of his methods, but we’ll honor his request and call him “Z.”

Beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Z bought his truck in one of the first rounds of Hummer auctions. When they were sold with the caveat that they’d be “OFF-ROAD ONLY.”

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The short story is this; he made an account on the GovPlanet auction site (easy), clicked and bought a truck he liked (also easy). GovPlanet extended Z a $150,000 buying limit without taking any financial information from him.

“I had to fill out an End Use Certificate agreement, a pretty simple document stating that you are using it privately or if you are buying it as a dealer to sell, etc. They want to make sure it isn’t heading overseas,” he told me.

Then there was three months of waiting to see his truck. After the vehicle arrived, Z could use the SF97 form to translate his bill of sale into a regular-car title, which takes another “two to four weeks.”

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In that time he called GovPlanet, who told him he could simply buy a title for $150. Money sent, “title” added to his account.

With that, Z was off to the Texas DMV with a VTR-135-M form; an application for “Former Military Vehicle” license plates. But he seems to think there are other ways to go:

“...(I) made sure I had everything ready when I went up to the tax office. From what I’ve found in my research - online / other people - there are several ways to get it registered. Some say to register it as an antique vehicle if it is 25 years or older or you can go the rebuilt / custom vehicle route. “Standard” license plates and registrations are possible. I’ve seen it done. Though, it is A LOT harder because you will have to go through a couple of more hoops, one being the inspection. I have heard people being turned away when they try to get a “standard” license plate. Of course this will vary by state (Arizona will not tag any humvee. It is VERY difficult in California to pass emissions, etc).”

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“Some have said you could get bonded title route but that is if you do not get a title with the vehicle.”

So that might give you an idea of what you’re going to go through if you want a surplus Hummer. Here’s some advice Z had for hopefuls looking to get their own:

  1. “First, try your best to win a good / RUNNING Humvee / M998. While many things can be replaced with civilian parts, some cannot and will be hard/more expensive to obtain. Worst thing that you can do is winning an non-running humvee, giving GovPlanet your money and waiting months to receive a truck that, after tearing it down and inspecting it, is way worse off than what GovPlanet stated. GovPlanet’s checks are NOT 100% accurate nor thorough.”
  2. “Secondly, WAIT patiently. GovPlanet is understaffed as it is and is truly just a passthrough for the Government. They may sell 100-300 humvees every week. Their true bottleneck is the Government processing the paperwork (EUC). Typically one will expect to be able to pickup their truck in 3 months. I’ve heard about 16 week waits and I’ve heard some lucky people having their EUC approved in 3 weeks.”
  3. “Thirdly, when registering your truck, have every bit of paperwork ready. This makes the process easier for whoever is behind that counter. They are less likely to question any of your paperwork if you have it all ready for them. Remember they sit and deal with people ALL day, at times some of those people are less than level headed. Be kind and courteous. More than likely they have NEVER done any registrations for Military Humvees. There has only been 2100 or so sold by GovPlanet.”
  4. “Last but not least, get insurance on it. It’s not a tank, its actually aluminum. Protect yourself and others on the road.”

Does all this encourage your ambitions to buy an old Hummer, or make a Jeep XJ sound more appealing after all? If you’ve bought one of these babies yourself, tell us about your own experience in the comments!

Images via “Z”


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.