Dry Docked Duck: DUKW Amphibious Vehicle

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While the image of this six-wheeled amphibious DUKW peering out of the Oregon undergrowth is partly terrifying, it’s also not that unsettling given these former military vehicles now do parade laps in cities like Boston as a tourist attraction. Still, I can’t remember the last time I saw one up for grabs as a potential project and given the popularity of vintage military vehicles, I doubt this one will stick around long – even with lots of rust repair to contend with. 

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With a few feathers in its cap that included crossing the English Channel and rescuing a stranded US Coast Guard patrol off of Cape Cod, the DUKW moved from being considered purely experimental to becoming a trusted military vehicle that proved invaluable in getting resources to WWII troops. From Normandy to the Pacific Theater, DUKW’s are deeply engrained in our country’s military history, being used by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Allied forces, including British and Australian armies.

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Today, restored DUKWs fetch a fair price. A few that I spotted ranged from $65K to upwards of $80K, so I don’t think the seller is too far off when he proclaims how much this will worth when it’s restored. However, I suspect this DUKW actually saw a fair amount of maritime usage given the prevalence of rust throughout the floors and body. Fortunately, this isn’t exactly a complicated design to repair given its slab-sides and GMC-sourced underpinnings. The seller says the mechanical systems will need rebuilding – if it’s original, that should consist of a 4.4L GMC inline-six engine.

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The seller is asking $7,000 OBO for this DUKW, which he says must go due to spousal irritations. You can find it here on craigslist in Oregon, and if you check it out, I hope you ask a few questions about its history and how it got to be an almost permanent part of the forest landscape (seriously, it almost blends right in!) If a Kubelwagen is too hard to find – and you’re a bit of a patriot – this DUKW looks like a hugely rewarding project, despite the bodywork needed. The seller’s ample photos of healthy DUKW’s diving into rivers and fording streams are enough to make even the most sensible gearhead want to take this one on.

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Comments

  1. MH

    That’s cool. It would take a boat load of cash to restore.

  2. Van

    Don’t worry about making it sea worthy. Just make it road worthy and take it on the power tour.

  3. Dairymen

    Boat stands for:

    Bust
    Out
    Another
    Thousand

    Like 1
    • Mike H. Mike H.

      A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into.

  4. Terry J

    The DUKW had a 4.4L GMC engine? Really Jeff, that is why the DUKW and all the other American war machines were built – to stop the Axis powers and their insidious metric system. They had the 8mm Mauser, we used the 30-06. The DUKW had a 270 cubic Inch GMC engine in it. Geeeezzzz. :-) Terry J

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      GO TERRY……….LMAO!!!!!!

    • Jeff Staff

      Whoops – got some numbers confused. Thanks for correcting and apologies for the error.

  5. The Chucker
  6. Rick

    A Duck similar to this one crashed in Seattle last summer killing 4 tourists that were along for the ride.

    • Mervyn

      The people that died were in a charter bus the DUKW ran into when the front wheel came off. Cut the tour bus open like a sardine can. The DUKW looked fine in the photos of the accident, except the front wheel missing. Condolences to the families of the accident.

  7. Bill

    My youngest really wants one of these. but somehow i don’t think he’s quite up to raising $7k plus transport costs… not to mention a place to park it…

  8. Dave Wright

    The USCG started certifying these for passenger service maby 30 years ago. That is also what started the rise in prices for them. There have been several fatal accidents with them. One went down in the Boston harbor drowning a lot of people and another in Arkansas that went down after the operator forgot to install the drain plug. The industry has become lucrative enough that there are manufacturers building new versions specifically for commercial use. The later LARC’s are better in the water but too wide for use on the streets. These were more of a truck made to float than a boat made to go on the road. Most of the mechanicals are pure GMC 6X6 Duce and a half parts with an extra transfer case to drive the propeller shaft. I bought the last one I owned about 8 years ago in Berkely, it had been sitting in a scrap yard for who knows how long but looked in better shape than this one. Had it running and driving over a weekend. I bought it by the pound, was 1500.00 as I remember. The government still has a few of these in use around the country, many in the Corps of engineers and they come for sale from time to time.

  9. K. C.

    But apparently you are raising him to be a car guy, and that’s a good thing (even if you’re not giving him $1,000/month allowance).

  10. Jesse

    if you had one of these you wouldn’t have to worry about parking it anywhere, park wherever you want.

  11. Barzini

    There is a fleet of these vehicles used by one of the Boston tour companies so we see them every day.

    http://www.bostonducktours.com

  12. DonS

    The Original Wisconsin Duck tour group has their own salvage yard of these. Everyone passes by them at the beginning of the tours. I’ll drop them a note….

  13. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Love these old ducks – as boy scouts there were some here locally that did tours down there Trinity river which we took….hey we were young and weren’t scared !

  14. Mike

    They also have them in Branson, Missouri to take a tour of Lake Taneycomo, and Tablerock Lake
    http://branson.ridetheducks.com/

  15. Doug Towsley

    This one is a few miles from my House. Dont know the seller, but there are several of these in the area as well as a very active Military vehicle club and we often see club members show up at events around the NW. When the floods happen, these are especially visible as the owners fire them up and drive around looking to assist in any way, as well as haul those who want to have a good look-see. Somewhere i have pictures of one of these parading up and down flooded streets in Downtown Oregon city
    (There was a boat dealership partially submerged) as well as up and down the entrance to Clackamette park and the Submerged McDonalds restaurant. Out into the Willametter river and back up again. I think they ended up on the cover of many newspapers during these events. This one looks a lot worse that it probably is, a good clean and pressure wash and some paint, Most of the mechanicals are pretty agricultural so shouldnt be a problem to restore or make useable,

    Cool find. Ill let any buyer store it at my place for cheap rent for up to 90 days if you dont mind my nieces and nephews coming over to play on it.

  16. 70th Division

    The good news is …….. I bought this fantastic piece of USA Military History and it is coming back to Florida for a full restoration !!!
    This DUKW is very complete and the hull is in great shape, most rust issues are around wheel wells and the sides above wheels wells.

    This is a 1945 GMC DUKW and will ride and swim again !!
    A beautiful example of Can – Do American ingenuity, served this country so well and our Veterans have great praise for it !!
    God Bless all of our Veterans and especially our beloved WW2 Veterans, Thank You all for a job well done !!!
    Raymond

  17. marc

    Hello
    i live in Belguim Europe and i’m restoring a dukw witch was in a bad shape, it was 20 years in service of coastel tours at the seafront.
    as you can guess ,20 years of salted water it was nearly complete rotted.
    After two and a half year i’ve made nearley a complete new hull just saved the tunnel witch was in a good shape. Now we’re gone take it apart to get it sand blasted before painting and then put it all together but it might take another few years
    grts Marc

  18. Raymond

    Hello Marc,

    Excellent work on your DUKW !!!!
    It is a labor of love !!
    You are doing great ! It looks fantastic and shows all your hard work bringing it back ! Salt water and outdoor storage is not good for the DUKWS !
    I got my DUKW from Oregon, and hauled back to Florida.
    It is complete but needs major hull work all around.
    Fortunately I have another one that has a much better hull, and needs work on the bottom of hull, but side are almost perfect.
    I have been collecting parts when I find them, so that once a few projects get completed, I can start the DUKW. Yes it is a long term project, but I am always excited about projects, and their potential !

    Best Wishes for the New Year 2018 in Belgium and the USA !!!

    Raymond

    • marc

      Hello Raymond
      Best wishes to you and the USA .
      As i am collectng pfotos of dukws is it possible to have some , if anybody else have pfotos please mail them to me.
      Today im gone have a look on the map where you found it.
      Grts Marc
      ps my e mail to sent the pfotos e-m-c@skynet .be

  19. marc

    Hello Raymond
    Best wishes to you and the USA .
    As i am collectng pfotos of dukws is it possible to have some , if anybody else have pfotos please mail them to me.
    Today im gone have a look on the map where you found it.
    Grts Marc
    ps my e mail to sent the pfotos e-m-c@skynet .be

  20. Dustin

    These DUKWs are cool old machines.

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