Bidding begins for massive military collection in Portola Valley

Saturday, July 12, 2014
Bidding begins for massive military collection in Portola Valley
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One of the largest military auctions ever is being held in Portola Valley on Friday and Saturday.

PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The bidding is underway for one of the largest military auctions ever. More than 80 tanks, gun parts and miscellaneous military equipment are on the block, including a 42-ton surface-to-surface missile.

They're all part of the late Jacques Littlefield's collection, which he kept on his family estate in Portola Valley.

"Jacques Littlefield amassed the largest privately owned collection of military vehicles in the world," Collings Foundation Director Rob Collings said.

Littlefield was obsessed with tanks since he was a boy. He made collecting and restoring them his life's work.

"Basically I just enjoy working on them and driving them around. It's not as much fun as bulldozers," said Littlefield in a 1991 interview with ABC7 News.

By the time he died, he collected about 200 including some now expected to sell for millions.

"We have the German Panzer IV tank which was one of the most important vehicles of World War II," Collings said. "It was designed to have extraordinarily thick armor, so it could go right into the battle."

"It's interesting to see all the stuff and what they had to deal with way back when," Nick Alderson said.

Alderson's family came all the way from Indiana. He had his eyes on an American troop carrier. It could sell for $10,000 or more.

If it all seems a bit overwhelming, don't worry. There's a 200-page glossy catalog to help you sort it all out.

"People who have an interest in military history, this is that once in a lifetime opportunity to come and buy one of these vehicles," Collings said.

Clay Perkins wants a Russian cannon. "We'd put it in the backyard and if the neighbors have loud parties, I'd ask them to be quiet," he said.

When it's all over, 116 pieces will be sold. The proceeds will be used to build a museum in Massachusetts that will put the remaining 84 on display.

"And the guys who served on those, it's a tribute to them to keep them alive," Collings said.

The auction is on Friday and Saturday in Portola Valley and is expected to raise $10 million. For more information, click here.