08 Feb 2009

Jacques Littlefield, 1949-2009

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Talk about the man who had everything.

Jacques Littlefield didn’t only own what every Silicon Valley executive wants: his own hilltop in Portola Valley. On his 430 acre Pony Tracks Ranch he kept and serviced his own collection of 230 tanks, missile launchers, armored cars, and personnel carriers.

SF Chronicle:

Jacques Littlefield, an unassuming multimillionaire who amassed the country’s largest private collection of tanks and other military armored vehicles, died Wednesday at his Portola Valley ranch. He was 59. …

Mr. Littlefield owned about 200 tanks, self-propelled guns, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft vehicles and other heavy combat vehicles, ranging from an M1917 “Six-Ton Tractor” from World War I to a Russian T-72 used by Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Iraq war.

He painstakingly restored the vehicles and kept them in a football-field-size showroom on his ranch. In accordance with state and federal law, none of tanks had functioning firing apparatus, but he did occasionally drive them around his 470-acre property.

A jewel in his collection is the German Panzer V (Panzerkampfwagon V -JDZ) Panther tank that the German army sank in a Polish river during World War II to keep it from the advancing Russians. The Panther sat submerged for decades, and Mr. Littlefield acquired it five years ago and began restoring it.

“Restoration is very satisfying, especially with something like the Panther,” Mr. Littlefield said in a 2007 interview with The Chronicle. “People say: ‘You’ll never get that thing running again.’ Well, it was built once, and we can do it again.”

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WSJ:

His collections extracted a personal cost. “It happens to a lot of guys,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 1992. “It happened to me. You get a tank, you get divorced. You get divorced, you lose the tank to pay the settlement.”

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Jacques Littlefield web-site

Lots of photos of his collection here

Driving restored (turret not yet mounted) Panther 5:00 video – not easy parking one of these in the garage.

Littlefield runs over a Mercedes with his tank 0:49 video

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LibertyNew

Is this they guy that MythBusters visited for their phone book episode?



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