'Domaines' is the government agency responsible for organising the
sale by auction of French government property that is surplus to
requirements. Property, vehicles, equipment, even jewellery, they
sell it all provided it is suitable for purchase at a public
auction. Both civilian and military materials are disposed of in
this way including of course jeeps.
During the 1960s and 70s auction catalogues
consisted of simple typed and duplicated lists but from the 1980s
printed catalogues were produced which would often include
photographs of some of the lots.
Military vehicles were sold mainly at auctions
held in France at a number of different locations across the
country. Where they had been serving in former French colonies they
would sometimes be brought back for sale but more often than not
they were sold at auctions held at an army base there. Lots varied
in quality from almost perfect examples with minimal mileage to warn
out rusty non-runners and accident write-offs.
Auctions in France were mainly frequented by
dealers but intrepid members of the public from both France and the
surrounding countries would also attend to get themselves a jeep.
Baz Davis was the first person I met who had actually done the deed.
The jeeps at the auction he attended were from reserve NATO stock
and pretty much in original factory condition with only a thousand
or so km on the clock.
The army stock of jeeps was always going to
come to an end at some point and there was much speculation that
2000 would be the year. In the event, the army kept finding a few
more from here and there, and what was thought to be the 'final
auction' was held at Vayres on the 11th of July 2002. Steve Rivers
(Dallas Autos) and Philip Thomas shipped eight jeeps back to the UK
on the back of a low loader believing it to be a final opportunity
(covered in Classic Military Vehicle October 2002).
The official final auction of jeeps was held
the following year at Bordeaux.......
The story should have ended at this point but
during the rest of the decade jeeps turned up at auction from time
to time. There has been the odd ex-fire service jeep or two, and
batch of 23 rather dusty army jeeps obviously unearthed from storage
somewhere in 2007.
Judging by the dust and the oil leaks they had
not been moved for some considerable time and at present these are
the last of the complete M201s apart from a recent batch of
write-offs which had all been 'rolled'. Now where did they come
Photos: Domaines and Baz England-Davis