WWII Veteran: 1940 White M2A1 Half Track

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

I first saw these photos on a Facebook page and did a double-take when I saw there was an eBay listing. Surely, this is someone’s idea of a joke – but no. This is a real-deal WWII-era M2A1 Half Track truck, built by the White Motor Company, and several decades into retirement in the Oregon wilderness. It’s done its duty both for the country and as an apparatus on a chicken farm before being driven to its current location and parked – sometime in the 1970s. Find it here on eBay with bidding up to $8,800. 

WWII military vehicles have a passionate following, from collectors who chase all sorts of authentic military memorabilia, to those with a personal connection to a grandfather or other relative who served. Personally, I look at this era as the pinnacle of manufacturing in America, when numerous companies put their collective brain power to good use in order to serve the country, stopping their own production lines to do so. This Half Track comes with a trailer that the seller says was used to haul fuel, which is what I believe to be pictured here.

This M2 Half Track is distinguished as a M2A1, which had to do with the installation of a .50 caliber machine gun over the co-driver’s seat. According to WWIIVehicles.com, it also featured two pintles fitted on the sides and one on the rear for an optional .30 caliber machine gun. To my earlier point, the M2’s creation involved multiple pillars of industry of the time, with the concept designed by Firestone (which took its inspiration from the French Citroën-Kégresse vehicles) and the production managed by White. With a max speed of 40 m.p.h., the M2 could do its duty on dirt, sand or densely-covered forest.

The amount of vegetation tells you everything you need to know about how long this M2 has been parked and what the restoration will be like. At the same time, it may not be as tedious as we’d think, given these were not overly-complex vehicles when built. The seller notes a previous owner did procure a set of replacement tracks from Israel, another country where the Half Track design saw extensive use in military applications. The M2 was used by many other countries, with some still in use well into the 2000s. It will be interesting to see what kind of bids this hidden M2A1 attracts.

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Comments

  1. george

    great photos in a natural setting. i like the description- what ever it is ,its yours.




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  2. Mark S.

    This is really cool. Someone needs to save this. One serious chunk of iron.
    Ad description said it was driven from Arizona to Oregon, @ 40 mph that must have been a long road trip.




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    • doug

      That would have been a FUN adventure! I hope it finds a good home.




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    • Jerry Brentnell

      boy they must have good dope out there ! and be really out of it when they found this pile of scrap metal !




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    • Byte-A-Taco

      If you think that trip was something, “google” Art Lacy B17 and learn of his attempts (the final one successful) at flying a surplus B17 Bomber from Arizona to Oregon right after WWII. The Bomber is still there, a well-known landmark.
      But this half-track and the most recent Porsche 356 are two sides of the same coin, and about as useful.




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  3. Lawyer George Member

    Good Grief! Were someone to ask me what this half track is worth, I would say the cost of filling the space where it is now “planted” with vegetation to fill in the gap after it sells. Did anyone notice the shipping costs? $20,000.00! Zounds!




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    • D. King

      He says in the comments that the shipping is not correct–pick up only.




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  4. Mike

    The pillars of industries and their collective minds! Only five years after world war 2, this country has been on a perpetual war footing. Save your money, for after world war 3 there will be plenty more war artifacts to dig up.




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  5. Whippeteer

    Talk about patina…




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    • gary

      plant-ina




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  6. EHide Behind

    If this relic is along Oregon’s Northern coast I know of it.
    At end of WWII many a HI returning home to timber company, found little wages except in logging or commercial fisheries and later for powerlines and highway clearing.
    If this one is what I think it is, then a GO who owned timbrred average but damn near broke, bought this as surplus from US Ag program at scrap metal bid price.
    LOGHING CATS WERE EXPENSIVE and those military had used were dumped at sea or abandoned in foreign lands, to save American firms Cat and OH from competiyion.
    The trailer while military was mainly used as short logs, pulp out of brush and cedar shakes or bolts, but mainly to house required water tank and fire fihhting gear.
    These are actually in demand by whacko militia types and WWII reenactments. EASY NOT COMPLICATED, TRACKS CAN HAVE HARD RUBBER ADD ONS FOR PAVE ROAD.
    I Seen pictures of old employer. Hauling a log as high as truck with a logging arch in place of trailer.
    Everything one needs to rebuild or replace is available.
    FOR those of you awaiting for Zombie uprizing, this rig will cut down on your ammo cost.




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  7. brian crowe

    When I first saw the pics I thought wow that’s beautiful it should stay there forever. Then I saw the bidding and I see that people just won’t let it go.




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  8. EHide Behind

    If this relic is along Oregon’s Northern coast I know of it.
    At end of WWII many a G I returning home to timber company, or farms, found little wages except in logging or commercial fisheries and later for powerlines and highway clearing during 1950’s National Highway programs and powerlines expansions

    If this one is what I think it is, then a who owned timbrred average but damn near broke, bought this as surplus from US Ag program at scrap metal bid price.
    Logging equipment was expensive but valuable woods were plentiful, used cats and shovels of militaryand thos
    iwere dumped at sea or abandoned in foreign lands, to save American firms Cat and I H from competition.
    The trailer while military was mainly used as short logs, pulp out of brush and cedar shakes or bolts, but mainly to house required water tank and fire fighting gear.
    These are actually in demand by whacko militia types and WWII reenactments. EASY NOT COMPLICATED, TRACKS CAN HAVE HARD RUBBER ADD ONS FOR PAVE ROAD.
    I Seen pictures of old employer. Hauling a log as high as truck with a logging arch in place of trailer.
    If this is one I know of, last I knew in 70’s was still running.
    Everything one needs to rebuild or replace is available.
    FOR those of you awaiting for Zombie uprising, this rig w ill cut down on your ammo cost.




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    • val

      WOW you are ASSUMING That all the People that love the Old Military stuff are
      whacko militia types. I know a bunch of People that Love to Restore the Old Military stuff But I don’t think any of them are Wacko’s . But that thing is not worth a 1/4 of what has been bid on it . but you never know .




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      • EHide Behind

        Did not mean to imply that those who love to restore old military vehicles are whackos, although a couple I met were.
        I once helped restore 1Duece and half, 2 into 1 surplus cut in two1950’s Jeeps. And a 3/4 ton by Dodge military ambulance made into a camper.
        And as those were days far richer than today,
        myself and 4 or 5 others once donated a new redo firing semi auto 50 cal, and a plastic replica, for a very serious repro group that raise funds for
        charity.
        Looking back, I must of been a
        whacko to do so, and I was not
        militia.
        THEY GOT the credit and tax deduct; sounds pretty sane to me.
        ! No politics allowed, remember!
        Militia is not a political topic,
        it is a mental health issue.




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  9. Rube Goldberg Member

    This had to be a surplus, as I concur, all war machinery was dumped at sea. I couldn’t believe that, but a friend’s dad, coming back from war, said they did just that. Probably best to leave sleeping dogs lie.




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  10. Rodney

    “Swamp Thing the SUV” (the sequel)




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  11. Beatnik Bedouin

    A buddy of mine’s been looking for some appropriate garden art for his new place – I’ve sent him the link (he typed with tongue-firmly-in-cheek)…




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  12. Pete

    I was born in a village on the coast of Holland. It was a beach resort sort of place. You could rent wicker chairs and little bungalows from the locals. Every day would come out with a flat bed conversion of a half track and gather up the wicker chairs that were rented during the day. It was painted an orange yellow and the thing would run up and down the beach for an hour or two. I even remember riding on it a couple of times. It was still going strong in 1972. It was a canadian military surplus vehicle. Most ended up at museums along with a few Sherman tanks. I know they did sell surplus vehicles to the Israeli along with Planes after the war. This one was probably retained in the states and never made it overseas. I know a lot of tanks and what not were melted down and made into car parts, hand tools etc. that were left on the battle field. I can not even begin to imagine what a mess Normandy was to clean up after the war. Hey that not the best cammo job you ever seen? LOL




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    • Bill McCoskey

      The origins of the M2 were as a truck to pull large howitzers and other non-powered guns. If it was still outfitted as a M2, it would have a center opening door at the rear, to allow troops quick access to the towed gun. Bowen-McLaughlin of York, PA did the conversions that included higher side panels, and as mentioned, a 50 cal. gun ring. They often got additional 30 & 50 cal gun rings in the back area.

      Both California and Arizona had WW2 Desert Training Camps to prepare GI’s for North Africa fighting, and they did have White Half-tracks there. I have original photos from the training camps, showing these in use. So it’s logical to conclude this may have come out of one of these Desert Training Camps.

      I had the honor of driving & riding one of these about 45 years ago at Ft. Knox. Perhaps it can do 40mph for short bursts of speed, but my experience suggests that at anywhere above about 25 mph, it would begin to run hot due to lack of cool air intake for the radiator. And at about 30 mph, it felt like the entire vehicle was going to vibrate itself to pieces.

      An interesting aside is that the US M2 and subsequent variants had the front wheels as a driven axle, so if one track was damaged or gone, the vehicle could still be driven, but only abut 5 to 10 mph. It also meant that to replace one track, all one had to do was lay out the new track & drive over it, using a special clamp to guide it forward over the bogey wheels, then bolt it together. This was generally not possible with the French, German, & Soviet half-tracks, because they had no power to the front axle. Once a track was gone, their versions were unable to move.




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  13. Classic Steel

    I think it would be great to roll over
    folks on cells while driving 😏




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    • Utes

      @ Classic Steel…..
      Brilliant & witty comments like yours are what keeps me comin’ back here! Peed my trou on this one!
      Keep ’em comin’!




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  14. Coventrycat

    Much more interesting than a pair of Grand Nationals.




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  15. Rex Kahrs

    I know of a guy in Ohio that has a whole farm full of stuff like this. He probably has 6 of these, a couple tanks, multiple M*A*S*H ambulances, numerous military Dodge Power wagons, jeeps…it’s unreal all the stuff this guy has. If you saw this place, there is little doubt that he’s a whack-O.




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    • Pete

      You ought to check out a MAC show. It is all about military collectables. Actually a very interesting experience. I would be interested in making contact with that Buckeye who has all those vehicles. I have been looking for an M880 power wagon for a while now.




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  16. Peter

    Wow Moss find… suit Sylvester Stallone. Rambos secret lair.




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  17. Mark S.

    Seeing this thing reminds me of the show Rat Patrol.




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  18. PAPERBKWRITER

    It ran when we parked it.




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    • EHide Behind

      If I bought and got running, do you think they would let me drive over Astoria Bridge?




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  19. dennis

    It’s actually a 1941, one of a batch of 4.627 or so, in the specific manufacturing contract. very early, it may not have Idler springs when originally manufactured. Theses springs kept the traks taught.There were 2 large storage compartments behind the doors that could also be opened from the inside. This one had a skate rail for 3 Machine guns on the inside just below the top lip, there would have been two 30 cals and one fifty. Fuel tanks are in the rear on the sides. No rear door so no easy access for the 8 men who would have rode in it. It’s front hood has a joint right above the spark plugs, and if that isn’t oil all over the engine it’s water. broken manifold no telling whats all wrong with it. since it was a very early one, second contract, it was later converted to an M-2A1 which means it had a MG ring and pulpit located over the passenger seat plus it would have been retrograded to have an idler spring rear suspension. It never saw combat no combat vehicles came home but some planes, and that’s because they carried the crew home, other wise they would have been blown up and scraped in Europe. there were thousands of these Traks in the U.S. when the war ended. The M-3 was the next evaluation of the Half track and was 10 inches longer in the box, and it had a rear door, no skate rail, no stowage boxes on the side, an Mg was mounted on a pedestal right behind and in between the front seats. Then the M-3A1 came along with the MG pulpit over the passenger seat, like the M-2A1’s. M-3’s are the most rare, with of course the M-3A1 being the rarest of them all, except the funnies, ones with twin Bofors or 75 MM Cannon M-3’s, or the M-15 a turret with two fifty’s and one 37 MM cannon all used up in combat,. Sold off quickly after the war to other countries because the U.S. Army saw the vulnerabilities of the open top, they actually became scarce in the U.S. after WWII. Then with Korea starting up the M-3’s that were left were converted to M-16A-1’s with the non flip down side panels, the quad mount being mounted on two rings instead of one, so it could shoot over the side at a lower target like down the side of a mountain. The early M-16’s like the ones at the Remagen bridge had flip down sides. leading to “the greatest antiaircraft artillery battles in American history.” The Americans counted 367 different German Luftwaffe aircraft attacking the bridge over the next 10 days. The Americans claimed to have shot down nearly 30% of the aircraft dispatched against them. M-16’s were lined up for several miles in both directions on both banks most of theM-3’s left were converted to M-16’s with Quad fifty mounts, that is the type I operate. After surplus almost all the rear boxes were scraped. The traks were bought en mass, and converted by companies like Wilenski auto parts co. In Minneapolis. Wilenski converted them and were sold ready to use at your construction co. Farm plow, flat bed truck, drag line, core drilling, well drilling, road making machinery. Almost endless applications. Ironically the majority of the half tracks left are M-16’s with out the quad mount, most of them converted from M-3’s in the fifties. The ID numbers are stamped on the frame hump in the front and have both numbers M-3 and M-16 stamped as well. All of them including this one, have a small aluminum tag tied on with tie wire behind the front bumper, drivers side this is the hood number assigned at the factory.




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    • Utes

      @ dennis……
      Great chunk of interesting info.! Thanks a lot!




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  20. UK Paul

    Love it, huge job though .. always wanted one.




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  21. UK Paul

    The latest comments to be added by the seller are odd?:

    ” I talked with my son. The Halftrack was stored at my house. The neighbor is dead. The present owner is 12 years old and has difficulties conversing. I am an attorney and am authorized to sell it. My son says the motor ran ok, when it was put down there about 6 years ago. Inside the engine I detect some recent spray and two cans of oil and two new round paint brushes. He says the track may have a problem. After that new tracks was obtained.”




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    • CATHOUSE

      It is comforting to know that our education system is capable of producing such articulate people.




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      • Rex Kahrs

        Hey Cathouse, did you notice that the guy says he’s an attorney?




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      • UK Paul

        It does throw a bit of a red flag up in a way? Seems worded very strangely, and for an attorney?
        Still love it though.
        Were I not 4,900 miles away I might have thrown in a bid.
        Military history has always been a huge passion of mine since I was a small boy. Right up there with cars, maybe even bigger ..




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      • CATHOUSE

        Rex, yes I did notice that he says that he is an attorney. It makes me wonder what the judges and opposing attorneys think of his briefs. The legal kind that is. I doubt anyone cares about what he is wearing.




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  22. packrat

    In the late seventies there was a man (eventually part of our old radio group from the nineties on) who had flyers posted around town offering halftracks for sale. A *fleet* of them. IIRC, they were all pulled from a field in Alabama that he had periodically been checking on since he discovered a farmer had bought them as scrap iron in the late ‘fifties. (‘No, no, no,’ was the response, of course.) He left his business card and got a call when the widow was settling the estate. For that level of money, contracts were drawn up, and the slow process of extraction was begun. I would say fully half the surviving halftracks in North America (and The Most of the restored ones) came from the RAMO group in Nashville, from a stash of them that some unsung hoarder saved from the smelter long enough for interest in them to reappear.




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  23. leiniedude Member

    Ended: Feb 11, 2018 , 2:57PM
    Winning bid:US $9,000.00
    [ 42 bids ]




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  24. James

    Drop in a SBC and drive it as-is. Use the windshield washer pump/reservoir to keep the “plant-ina” (nicely done Gary) alive!




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  25. Pete

    I have pressure washed all manor of military equipment that spent weeks in the field during my life, Pick ups, jeeps, Deuce 1/2, 5 tons, Chinooks, Blackhawks etc. Most of them just filthy. But this one wow. It would take a few days of washing to knock off all that dirt, moss, algae. That is the biggest Taraium I have ever seen. I bet you would wash off a pile of gunk that would fill a pick up truck. LOL.




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  26. Dave Wright

    I went through a period when I hunted ex military track vehicles around the logging industry. I have buddies that collect and restore them. We bought several tanks, half tracks, carriages and the like from old logging junkyards and made a good profit. They are fun simple machines that are not difficult to restore. Good WW2 era tanks are nearing the 100,000 mark today and are quite popular. My last tank was a later M60 I bought from a Northern California Museum. 1/2 tracks are lighter weight making them easier to transport than a Sherman. I have a buddy in northern Idaho that loves to crash through the woods and snow playing with his. The military vehicle hobby grows every year. 1/2 tracks are a good beginner vehicle because of there relative simplicity. Steering is easy with the front tires as opposed to clutches used on full track vehicles.




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