Super-cool 8×8 military truck (Oshkosh M985). What is it like to own and maintain a 34-ton (GVWR), 34-foot long, 8-wheel-drive truck that rides on 53-inch tall tires?
Could there be a more impractical vehicle an individual could ever own? Yes, and this is it! The Oshkosh M985 HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck). This is a Military cargo mover rated to transport up to 12 tons on pavement or off-road.
There are ten variations of the HEMTT ranging from the cargo version, tankers, wreckers, tractors, and various load handlers. This one is a 1987 M985 cargo truck, a diesel-powered 8X8 vehicle that weighs 39,000 lbs empty, 68,000 lbs loaded, and can tow an additional 32,000 lbs. Ike Gauntlet anybody? This particular M985 is equipped with a 5,400 lbs load handling crane at the rear. Powered by a 12.1-liter 2-stroke Detroit diesel rated at 450 HP and 1300 lb-ft of torque. This may sound very powerful, but remember it’s just under 20 tons empty. It’s not fast. It will max out at about 62 mph, but the truck feels much happier at 55 mph.
When driving one of these monsters you have to remember that it is 34 feet long with a turning circle of 105 feet. The driver’s position is in front of the steering axles (of which there are two), so you have to enter the intersection before you initiate your turn, and even then judge it wide. The ride isn’t too bad but can get pretty bouncy depending on the road surface. I have sent a passenger to my right into the roof, even with a seat belt on.
The cab is surprisingly quiet as long as the windows are rolled up. When they are down you do hear the drone of the 8V92 Detroit diesel that is directly behind the cab. The truck has a 4-speed Allison automatic transmission and a 2-speed transfer case with multiple power to wheel options: 2WD, 4WD, and 8WD. 8X8 is only available with the transfer case in low range, but I am going to modify the controls to allow 8X8 in High range.
The military has changed the sales “Demill” code on these now and they can no longer be sold as a complete usable truck. Now they are to be “Mutilated” and no parts are to be salvaged. Yes, you read that right, they have to be thoroughly destroyed/scrapped. That is sad to the few of us that own them outside the military as we can’t get many parts from them. There are approximately 250 of all variants of the Oshkosh 8×8 in private hands and not likely to be any more released. Of those only about 20 were M985 models, making this an extremely rare piece of machinery. Parts are available for these through several suppliers and Oshkosh directly, so we are able to maintain the trucks.