Tanks a lot: 1942 Cadillac M3A1 Stuart Tank
Unlike the recent wars the U.S. has been involved in, the Second World War was an existential threat to the nation, if not to the world’s democracies. As such, American industry was mobilized to produce war materiel. You would expect that the auto manufacturers to produce wheeled vehicles, but International Harvester produced infantry rifles (M1 Garrand) Ford produced heavy bombers (B-24 Liberator) and GM produced armored tanks. Find this 1942 Cadillac M3A1 Stuart Tank for sale at the Normandy Tank Museum Auction in Catz, France for an estimated 80,000 to 140,000 Euro (estimated 90,000 to 157,000 USD).
The French remain forever grateful to the young men of the U.S. and U.K. that stormed the Normandy Beaches 72 years ago to liberate them from Nazi tyranny. In 2013, Patrick Nerrant along with his sons Stephane and Olivier, opened a 32,000 square foot museum a short distance from Utah and Omaha beach on the site of the first Allied airfield in liberated France. The museum housed Patrick’s extensive collection of American amour and military vehicles from 1942 to 1945 along with period uniforms and other WW2 artifacts displayed in realistic dioramas. Although the museum proved to be a popular spot for tourists, the museum couldn’t make a financial go of it and the once friendly neighbors have cooled to the museum. So, Patrick and his sons have decided to sell off the contents of the museum in a no-reserve auction by auction house Artcurial.
The M3 Stuart was designed as a light tank armed with a 37mm gun and 3 .30 caliber machine guns. It was powered by a rear-mounted Continental radial aircraft engine converted for tank use. Producing around 210 hp, the Stuart had a top speed of around 36 mph. The Stuart was first used in North Africa at the disastrous Battle of Kasserine Pass where it proved less than effective against German Panzers. Subsequent to that, the Stuart was used for scouting and infantry fire support, leaving tank on tank battles to the medium Sherman.
This Stuart has received a cosmetic exterior restoration but will need interior, electrical and mechanical restoration. Discovered in Brazil and added to the collection in 2008, it comes with an uninstalled 7 cylinder Continental radial engine that needs a rebuild prior to its re-installation.
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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent. He thinks it would be amusing to show up to a BMW track day in this M3.
I've always considered myself a faithful student of history, but sometimes the minutiae slip past me. I knew US auto manufacturers basically shut down for the war effort (imagine that today!) and went full speed ahead into producing weaponry, but I thought it was limited to major end items (trucks, planes, tanks, etc).
So imagine my surprise when a younger and more spry RyanM went to the firing range for a fam(iliarization) fire pre-qualification and noticed that the M2 .50 cal I was assigned said "manufactured by the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors" on the receiver.
Intrigued, I went down the line during brass police call and saw names like "Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Company,""Frigidaire Div, General Motors," and even Saginaw on the receivers of these weapons.
This was in 2002(!) and we were still using weapons manufactured for use in WWII.
Since then, I've seen those manufacturers on the receivers of M2's downrange and stateside through 2013 when I got out… though towards the end the WWII vintage M2's were few and far between.
Nice article Gianni, minor correction – Garand has one r. Bonus internets to those of you who can pronounce Garand without going on Youtube to watch the documentary on John Garand.
If it isn't obvious by now, I can't spell worth a damn and spell check was no help.
Cadillac did not make M3A1 Stuart tanks. They made M5/M5A1 Stuarts. All M3/M3A1 Stuart tanks were made by American Car & Foundry Co. in Berwick, PA.