I recently sold a small British army tank I have had for some time. To be formal, it was a British armored reconnaissance vehicle—CVR(T)— Scorpion. It was classified as a light tank, built in the 1970’s, and at that time it held the speed record for the fastest production tank in the world (51.10 mph). Photograph at left.
I acquired this tank perhaps because I had never owned one, and always thought it would be fun to drive one around, and because this one is light (9 tons – made of aluminum to be air-freighted), small (17 ft.long. 7 ft. wide, 7 ft. high) easy to work on, and equipped with all the bells and whistles available at the time periscopes, lights, tools, antennas, lots of electronics, equipment boxes all over the place, and even a boiling vessel for making tea (British). It is also fun to drive, being equipped with a Jaguar engine (I do know Jaguar engines), a centrifugal clutch, and a motorcycle-like foot gear shift. And lest you worry, it was part of a collection and legally de- militarized (the cannon is not operable, the machine gun had obviously been removed – this is California).
I also was probably influenced to buy it because at the time I was on the board of the foundation that owned this collection, the largest private collection in the world of beautifully restored military tracked vehicles, which belonged to a man named Jacques Littlefield, one of my all-time favorite students. The collection was a magnet for tours, kids, my students (I taught a course on the historical relationship between technology and war), ex-tank crew people, and generally people who were interested in machinery and military history , and I finally could no longer fight the urge to own one. The collection, incidentally has joined the Collings Foundation headquartered in Stow, Massachussetts, which has an outstanding collection of vintage automobiles and aircraft.
Other favorable factors were that Jacques sold it to me for an excellent price, his people were a source of knowledge and extra parts, and my kids and grand kids thought that it was wondrous.. The only slight downside was that my good wife considered that it was symbolic of violence, and should not be in our yard, and might not even be welcome on the Stanford Campus. So I located it at my friend's farm up in the Sacramento valley, comfortably covered by a barn and surrounded by lots of dirt roads and open fields.
But many years passed, my kids were no longer fascinated by it, I was not going to my friend’s farm as often and beginning to worry about it not being looked after, and then the major factor— I could barely get into it and move around any more. So one of my friends (who took on the responsibility for finding a home for the big collection after Jacques died a few years ago), found a person who was looking for a tank like mine, and who would obviously give it an excellent new home, so I sold it to him.
The photo on the right shows it being packed ready to go. In a sense, I am glad I sold it, because I wasn’t really using it and don’t have to worry about it any more. But it is the only one of my hobby machines I have sold—and it was the only tank I owned. Maybe a little seller’s remorse.
My wife is not unhappy at all.