Want to own the car that Patton may have ridden to victory in Europe? Here's your chance
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 7, 2020
WASHINGTON — A three-quarter ton piece of World War II history believed to have shuttled Gen. George S. Patton across the European theater as he liberated one town after another from Nazi occupation will be up for sale next month.
The 1944 Dodge WC-57 Command Car 4x4 military vehicle is set to be featured during Worldwide Auctioneers’ June 12-13 Americana Festival and Auction in Auburn, Ind., according to the vintage car auctioning company. The vehicle, which is said to have been specifically modified for Patton, will be sold with no reserve, meaning the car will go to the highest bidder no matter how high or low the price reaches. Bids can be placed in person or online.
“If this vehicle could talk it would have some wonderful, wonderful stories to tell,” Worldwide Auctioneers principle John Kruse said in a video about the Patton vehicle. “What this vehicle represents is so impactful and so important. Of course, to own a piece of history from World War II, such as this, is a spectacular opportunity.”
The vehicle lacks specific documentation confirming it was indeed the very one the general known as “Old Blood and Guts” had altered to his demanding expectations in England before leading the 3rd Army into France in July 1944. But a “timeline of known history” about the car provided by the auction house states that, in 2005, a World War II veteran who claimed to have performed maintenance on Patton’s own WC-57 in Europe confirmed its authenticity.
Patton, the famed tank commander known as much for his military prowess as his short temper, long favored the Dodge series of command cars, even after many of his contemporaries transitioned to Jeep vehicles, according to biography published by a group called Patton's Third Army Living Historians.
Patton’s specific modifications to the vehicle that he used in Europe included armor plating, high-volume horns and sirens, a machine gun, and metal flags depicting Patton’s three-star general rank at that time and the 3rd Army Headquarters.
“Since Patton believed the commanding general should not only be heard but identified as the commanding general of Third Army, he placed two large metal flags on the front grill of all his vehicles,” the historians group’s biography said.
The first known acquisition of the vehicle set to be auctioned next month occurred in 1950 by Guy Franz Arend, one of the creators of the Bastogne War Museum in Belgium. In 2018, the car was acquired by the J. Kruse Education Center, a nonprofit that provides career exploration for grade school students and transitioning military veterans.
All the money from the auction will benefit the nonprofit, said Matthew Toth, its executive director. In an email Thursday, Toth said he did not have an estimate for what the vehicle would sell for but reported it had garnered a lot of interest.
Photos of the Dodge on Worldwide Auctioneers website show the vehicle is in excellent condition. They appear comparable to photos taken in England in 1944 of Patton’s modified WC-57, published on vintagemilitarytrucks.com.
The command car is one of more than 1,500 items up auction next month, according to Worldwide Auctioneers. Other military-themed items include a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub airplane, which was flown as reconnaissance plane in World War II, and a 1944 Cessna UC-78, which was used to train bomber pilots during the firstname.lastname@example.org