Big Yellow Ducky: 1943 GMC DUKW

Fathers spend a lot of money and buy many things for their daughters’ weddings. There’s the caterer, the flowers, the dress, and of course, the cake, and the duck. Wait, what? This was purchased for a wedding and hasn’t been used since. It seats 32 plus the crew. It has a modern drive train with a rebuilt Perkins diesel motor, Allison automatic transmission, and an upgraded rear end. It’s listed on eBay in Manchester, New Hampshire with a BIN of $45,000. Thanks to George A for this interesting submission.

Somewhere there’s an empty school bus. You do have to wonder what kind of wedding this was used for. These accommodations might have been a challenge for formal wear. The steps in the rear fold down for easy access.

Here’s the busy end, at least in the water. Things look in good shape here. I wonder how the bumper requirements could be met. You certainly wouldn’t want to rear end this DUKW.

It looks like a DUKW, swims like a DUKW but it doesn’t quack. The official designation was based on GMC’s standard method, first letter D for the year it was designed, U for utility, K for all wheel drive, and W for dual rear axles. The DUKW is based on the CCKW 2 1/2 ton trucks used in WWII. It is said that the Army had no interest in the DUKW until one was used to rescue a stranded Coast Guard crew when their boat ran aground on a sandbar in heavy seas and no other vessel could reach them. That won’t likely work to convince your spouse to let you bring this home. Perhaps you’ve been given a choice between buying a boat or a car. Now you can have both! Or, perhaps you have an unmarried daughter and are at least hoping to be making wedding plans some day. This one has been upgraded and is ready for a tour business. “Duck” tours are popular in many places, but tour operators often use converted school buses like the ones in Ketchikan, Alaska.  You could create a houseboat and motor home all in one. Do you think this DUKW will find a home? If so, what do you think a buyer would be willing to pay for this?

Fast Finds


  1. Francisco

    Hope this is not the fate of the buyer of this craft

  2. Don H

    That’s ducking crazy

  3. S Ryan

    I would need to see wedding photos. Duck is cool. Rode on many at Wisconsin Dells.

    Like 1
  4. stillrunners lawrence Member

    yep….we as boy scouts went down the trinity from Ft Worth to I forget….great ride for a bunch of young boys !

  5. SirJW

    Boston has a duck tour and use a similar vehicle.

  6. Sam

    We’ve done WWll dukw tours in the Wisconsin Dells, Boston and DC.

    Some retain an Army look, some are painted colorfully but all the drivers of tours we were on first point out the military significance and acknowledge the service men.

    Like 1
  7. alan

    I thought this was an Amphicar recovery vehicle.

  8. alan

    I guess you need some top quality axle seals.

  9. Howard A Member

    F, F, F, FORTY FIVE G’S??? 1st of all, good luck with that, and 2nd, and I’m sure Dave will tell us all about it, but I don’t think this is the original drivetrain. Research shows, these had the 270 GMC in-line six gas motor and 5 speed transmission, so it was updated at some point. And the clean rear axle housing shows, some gearing was updated, as these only were meant to go 45 mph tops, and 6.4 mph on water. The Wisconsin Dells operations ( I think there’s 2 outfits now), have almost 100 of these in various stages of disrepair, and use maybe 50 on a regular basis. If you are ever in the Badger, check it out. The Wisconsin River has some awesome views, only accessible by these crafts. I guarantee, you will enjoy it. I believe the crash in Seattle, was the result of a mechanical problem, these are 70 years old. That was sad. To rest your mind, the Dells DUK’s do very little, if any road travel. I remember once on a ride, the operator asked everyone, ” Do you want to hit the water slow, or fast”? Of course, everyone said “fast”, and we hit the water and SPLOOSH, we all got wet. Sorry, I rarely say this, but this is way too much for this craft, updates or not.

    • Dave Wright

      Well……As you remember Howard, I have owned several of these and there British counterparts. Off course, this is not the original drivetrain. The price is probably not out of line, these get certified as passenger vessels and can work for hire. There have been some tragic accidents with major loss of life with these in commercial trade. I have noticed quite a few of them on the market lately, makes me wonder if the USCG is tightening the rules pertaining to there commercial use. The commercial market for these is so good that new modern machines are being built specifically for touring companies. They start around 250,000 but are evidently paying there way for the operators. I bought 3 of the newer British versions (the Stalwart) that are actually a superior design. The originals like this one are really military 6X6 trucks made into a boat. The newer versions are more of a boat made into a truck. I lave also owned and used some LARK’s the newer American version. They were built in several sizes, one that is huge (the LX) and runs 2 300HP Cummings or 4 Detroit diesels. They are way to big to run on the street and many were scrapped. I owned and used a LARK 5 in my salvage company for several years, a capeable vehicle but still a bit large for every day highway use. We settled on barge and tug equipment for our use, it was more versatile in our kind of work. Thanks for the plug Howard.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Dave, I wasn’t being nasty, I knew you’d know. You are quite an asset to our group here. ( and yes, I’m still stuck in 1987, money wise) :)

      • Dave Wright

        I didn’t think you were being nasty… need to come west next month, my ranch is in the perfect location to see the eclipse. We have a well known Professor coming from California with a large group and millions of dollars of telescopes to do a program for one of the nature channels. He wants to gather a bunch of people to see it in my horse pasture…._it would be fun to have you here. An old trucker might teach those pointy head intellectuals a few things.

  10. Adam Wright

    I’ve done the Boston one, what would be really fun is put train horns on it and use it to crash yachting events!

  11. Gordon Hermanson

    San Francisco had a duck tour up until a couple of years. They went out of business.

  12. LAB3

    This would be great to take to Burning Man!

    • Francisco

      A duck in the desert?

      • Dave Wright

        I bought my 3 Stalwarts in Parker Az. The guy had bought them to do tours on the lower Colorado river. They had been in the Baltimore fleet of commercial boats. Lots of boats in the desert. I bought a 50 Foot tug in Quartzsite AZ.

      • LAB3

        Burning Man is known for crazy vehicles, this one would barely be considered entry level.

  13. Tom

    Grandfather to the amphomobile

  14. Uxberger

    There is something screwy in eBay land. Two different people in two different locations are selling this same DUKW. They even have the same pictures and story. The other vendor though says the boat was extended five feet.

    • Dave Wright

      He is probably measuring the rear entry ladder……..

  15. Russell

    You guys quack me up!

  16. John Sullivan

    My wife glanced over my shoulder while I was looking at the listing, and I’ve just been forbidden from buying this. So I’m wondering if there is a BarnFinds fund for retaining a divorce attorney? I’m probably going to need one, or my wife is going to need a criminal defense attorney after she murders me.

  17. Urquiola

    Someone may like the 2002 Dutton 4-wheel drive Swimming car from a Spanish Vintage & Classic Car magazine. Number is a Cell Phone, to access it, you need international access code plus the Spain International Code: 34.
    For transport to the USA, a possibility is contacting Carlos, at CSIL, Division street, Elizabeth, NJ. I have no participation nor responsibility in connection to this car nor the business cited

  18. Tim W

    Branson, MO also has Duck tours. They too explain the military history and purpose of the DUKW. Hate to sound like a tour guide, but Branson is extremely Veteran friendly and hosts multiple Veteran Appreciation times during the year. I’ll never forget the look on my kid’s faces when they drove off into Table Rock Lake!! Good times….

  19. El Chinero

    IIRC … a tour DUKW got away from the driver on the expanded-metal Lake Union (Washington?) “Sam’s Red Robin” bridge and took out some traffic … curtailing such tours …

  20. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I live in the next town over if someone wants me to “test drive” it for them.
    I wonder if they would let me drive it into Lake Massebesic, the city’s drinking water reservoir.

    LMAO at this listing!

    • Francisco

      Just don’t pump out the bilge.

  21. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I did the Duck Tour of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor many years ago, it was a fun time.

    I found the duck whistle they gave out, and my daughters drove me crazy with it.

  22. Neil

    $45,000 is more in line with what I would expect to pay for one restored to military specification. The amount of butchery on this one is beyond belief and will require much time and money to repair/restore. I think the seller is being waaaay too optimistic perhaps having looked at the price of restored military ones.

    • Dave Wright

      This machine can earn a couple of thousand dollars a day. If it was restored to original, it wouldn’t be able to work for hire by law. I have seen certified commercial ones sell for 100,000…… it is obvious that this one was certified at one time. An inspection will establish what is needed to bring it back into compliance. In the correct venue, this could pay for its self in a month.

  23. streamliner

    Ebay ad says “6 wheels”. I count 10. What else about seller’s “wedding” story is wrong / BS? Price is about 50% over market value. Look at spending double that again to get it restored + certified for public use — especially after several tragic accidents.

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