MV hobby luminary set to auction off stellar fleet

Brian Earnest Old Cars Weekly |

[Editor's Note: The following article was originally published in Military Vehicles Magazine and www.militarytrader.com]

A rare amphibious Ford GPA will be among the most noteworthy
vehicles up for bids when Chet Krause’s collection of Jeeps crosses
the auction block Aug. 13.

Chet Krause knew how to keep Jeeps running from 1943-46 as an Army soldier during World War II. Many years later, he was still so fond of them that he made sure he surrounded himself with Jeeps. In fact, he made it his mission to collect every type of authentic Jeep the military produced for WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war, assembling perhaps the most complete fleet of such Jeeps in the country in the process.

“I knew World War II Jeeps because I worked on them when I was in the military,” recalled Krause, 86, a resident of Iola, Wis. “But Korea and then Vietnam — I didn’t know what was all built for the military then. There are no books you can open up that tell you all that. I originally thought that there were 11 Jeeps.

“But I eventually became quite well-versed in Jeeps … and I kind of collected one of every Jeep built for the military. I finally stopped at about 24.”

And those 24 quarter-ton MVs, along with a handful of other WWII-era MVs, are all scheduled to find new owners when Aumann Auctions sells off Krause’s collection Aug. 13 at the Iola Old Car Show Grounds — site of the well-known Iola Old Car Show and the Iola Military Vehicle Show. The sale will feature many rare and top-condition vehicles, from early prototypes to Vietnam era machines carrying 106mm recoilless rifles. The Jeeps range in years from 1941 to 1970, while the non-Jeep offerings are all from 1939-’41.

This will be the second go-round for Krause when it comes to waving good-bye to a collection of his MVs at auction. At one time he estimates he had 40 to 50 WWII vehicles, including a Sherman Tank, that he sold off as a collection a few years back. At the time, however, he did not part with the Jeeps. Those Jeeps then grew into his current collection.

“One thing about the Jeeps is that they were a small thing to collect,” said Krause, who has also been a noted collector of old cars, coins and paper money, among other things. “When you collect any kind of vehicle, they take up so much room. Now, I’ve always operated out of warehouses, but there’s hardly been a time when the warehouse wasn’t chock-full.”

1967 Ford M825 with 106mm Recoilless Rifle

Krause is widely known in many different hobby and collecting circles as the founder of Krause Publications, the nation’s most prolific publisher of hobby and collecting magazines. Among his many interests and areas of expertise was coins and paper money, and in 1952 he started his publishing empire with the founding of Numismatic News. The company eventually included publications such as Old Cars Weekly, Military Trader and Military Vehicles.

Krause’s military collection has been a staple of the Iola Military Vehicle Show, held each August in Iola, and his fondness for vintage MVs seems as genuine today as it’s ever been. And his taste in Jeeps and other MVs certainly ran toward the high end of the collecting spectrum. Not just any vehicle made it into his collection.
 
“This bunch of Jeeps is a cut above what you normally find out there,” he said. “I have one that I’ve restored, but the others I was just able to find the better Jeeps — better than you would normally find on the market.

“I don’t know if there are any other collectors out there like me. A lot of guys are just into particular Jeeps, or the Vietnam stuff.”

Krause figures his ultra-rare 1943 Ford GPA amphibious Jeep will probably draw the most spirited bidding. He estimates there are no more than 20 such Jeeps remaining in the U.S., “and it takes six figures to buy one these days.” The unusual GPA is the only one in the collection that Krause has had restored. The ground-up rebuild was finished in the spring of 2008.

“That cost an arm and a leg to restore, and there just are not many of them around,” he said. “They are an open car and they would sit out in the rain and get full of water, and unless you let them sit out in the sun for a couple of days you just couldn’t get the moisture out of them and they all [rusted out]. We basically reconstructed it from the frame up. It’s the best one ever restored, or at least in existence today.”

The auction will also include a 1941 Bantam BRC prototype, a 1941 Willys MA prototype and a 1941 Ford GP prototype. “Those generally bring pretty good money,” Krause said. “I think there will be buyers who come in looking for the rare-type Jeeps, but there will probably be some people who just come for the everyday Jeeps that are in the collection, too.”

Other Jeeps scheduled to cross the block include:
—    1942 MB Willys “Slat Grille”
—    1942 GPW “Ford Script”
—    1943 MB Willys “Stamp Grille”
—    1943 GPW Ford
—    1950 Willys CJV35U
—    1950 Willys M38
—    1952 Willys M38A1
—    1952 Willys M170 Front Line Ambulance
—    1956 Willys M38A1-C1 Recoilless Rifle
—    1960 Ford M151
—    1960 422 Mighty Mite
—    1961 422E1 Mighty Mite
—    1962 422A1 Mighty Mite
—    1966 Ford M151A1
—    1966 Ford M825 Recoilless rifle
—    1966 AMC M718 Front Line Ambulance
—    1967 Ford M151 Mine Sweeper
—    1969 AM General M718A1 Frontline Ambulance
—    1970 Ford/AM General M151A2
—    1970 Ford M825A1 Recoilless Rifle

Other non-Jeeps scheduled for the auction:
—    1940 Dodge VC1 Command Car
—    1940 Dodge VC2 Command Car
—    1940 Dodge VC3 Weapons Carrier
—    1940 Dodge VC4 Personnel Car
—    1940 Dodge Open Cab Weapon Carrier
—    1940 Dodge VC6
—    1939 Ford Marmon-Herrington
—    1941 Dodge WC17 1/2-ton Carryall

Krause says he will be on hand during the auction event, and although he doesn’t expect to shed any tears about closing the door on his MV collecting pursuits, he does liken the auction experience “to a funeral.”

“I have given a lot of thought to what I should be doing with them, whether to sell them one at a time, or to sell them at an auction,” he said. “Having an auction is really like a funeral. It’s final.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be a sad day, and the reason I say that is … for the last three or four years I have gradually been liquidating my estate, including a large portion of numismatics, so I’ve been parting with my ‘pets’ for a long time, and the Jeeps are just another of the pets.”

For more information on the upcoming Krause MV Collection Auction, visit www.aumannauctions.com.

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1941 Bantam BRC prototype
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1941 Willys MA prototype
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1941 Ford GP 4-Wheel Steer prototype

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