Where do ex-military vehicles go?

By Dex Fulton 7 Min Read

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has a rich history of, let’s face it, pretty cool vehicles and equipment. Largely designed with function over form. Overengineered to withstand the pressures of frontline roles and put to use providing the infrastructure for command posts or non-permanent structures. Their ex-military equipment has to work hard without failure in the most demanding of environments. 


Let’s think about this a sec. The military has very similar requirements of their machinery than a lot of Aussie tradesmen, 4X4 enthusiasts and other various construction and mining types. So what happens when the military upgrades or no longer requires these assets? if only there was a way civilians could get their hands on some of this gear eh? 

If you’re somebody who could use a new to you 4X4 adventure machine, heavy-duty tradie trailer, tow vehicle for your backhoe, or just want to build a skyscraper in the back paddock, then you’re in luck. Because it’s all available to the public. 

But first, a little backstory

The ADF has had responsibilities in all of the main wars throughout modern history, not to mention numerous peacekeeping and natural disaster relief roles, and there has been a standing requirement for  tough-as-nails gear to aid them in these missions. There are the usual tanks and armoured personnel carriers you’d expect to see, but there is also a heap of construction vehicles and equipment that would lend itself nicely to a mining role or as an addition to anyone’s 4X4 fleet. From boats, to helicopters to tradesmen trucks, to cranes to augers to mine detection vehicles – it has all served a function in the ADF. 


Perhaps the most famous is the Land Rover Perentie, which came in 4X4 or 6X6 configurations. Simple, reliable and built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Perenties have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Based on the Defender platform, the ADF galvanised the rust-prone chassis and hoicked the Landy diesel in favour of the much more robust Isuzu 4BD1 – earning them legions of fans across the globe. 

Then of course there’s the Mercedes Benz Unimog. A truck that needs no introduction with its portal hubs, 5.7L straight-six turbodiesel and more versatility than a flowering money-tree, the Mogs have been put to use everywhere from Iraq to PNG. Want a truck that can do pretty much anything you want – from towing up to 8000kg to being a camper that could do any track in the country? Look no further, view them at https://unimogs.australianfrontlinemachinery.com.au/

As stated, it’s not just vehicles that have been used by the ADF. Trailers, construction equipment, mining machinery… you name it and the military has found a use for it. 

Which brings us to today

The crossover to civilian life from a military existence makes so much sense for a lot of 4X4 enthusiasts, mining companies, tradies and anyone who needs tough, no-nonsense gear to get the job done. Need to cart your tools from jobsite to jobsite while leaving your ute clear to handle the weekend family duties? Grab yourself a ¾ tonne trailer and rest easy. You could even turn it into a camper for those camping missions – if your 4X4 can go there, so can the ADF trailers. 

What about if you just want a four-wheel drive that can tow a decent amount, has an acre of room in the back, has plenty of off-road credentials, be a doddle to work on yet still have enough grunt to be fun to drive? A Perentie is calling your name, amigo. 

Need something bigger to tow your large caravan or superyacht, or just want a big old tray to convert to a camper or use as a toy-hauler? Right this way to the Unimog department, sir. 

What about if you need to haul an excavator or tow a broken-down dump-truck back to the yard? Yep, the Mack R6x6 is your huckleberry. 

Look, the reality is that if there is a need for almost any sort of work site machine or off-road base vehicle from which to build something special, an ex-military item will flat out work for you. If you’re feeling really sporty there’s even helicopters, boats, motorbikes and tanks on the shopping list. 

So, where is this magical ex-military supermarket?

Glad you asked. All of the above, and much more is available exclusively through a homegrown company called Australian Frontline Machinery. The sell to the public via an online auction system through their website. Basically, you find the vehicle or equipment you’re after, sign up to the mailing list so you’ll be notified when the auction for that particular item starts, head to one of their showrooms (located all over the country) to inspect and make sure it’s just what you’re chasing, then place a bid on the auction, which runs for 7 days. 

After that it’s a matter of collecting and enjoying the machinery that has quite literally been built to take a licking and keep on ticking. It’s like eBay, but you know, way better. 

You can find further auction details and availability at:


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