WW2 tanks, motorbikes fetch impressive prices at Normandy auction

Tanks and vehicles from the Tank Museum in Normandy were auctioned on September 18.
Tanks and vehicles from the Tank Museum in Normandy were auctioned on September 18.

A BMW motorcycle that was part of the German Army’s Afrika Korps unit was the star of an auction of collection of Second World War vehicles at Catz in Normandy on Sunday.


The side-car equipped motorbike was the kind used in General Erwin Rommel’s reconnaissance missions during the North African campaign. It fetched a price of 130,000 euros against its maximum estimated price of 45,000 euros.

A 1943 Harley Davidson also fetched a handsome price as it was sold for 54,000 euros, twice its maximum estimated price of 25,000 euros.

The other items that grabbed attention were two tanks – the Chrysler M4A Sherman and the Cadillac M5 A1 which were sold for 280,000 euros and 230,000 euros respectively.

These were some of the 131 items from the Normandy Tank Museum that were up for sale. This was after the founder, Patrick Nerrant, decided to close the museum doors and sell off its entire collection.

The museum, which opened three years ago near the D-Day beaches in Normandy, shut down because of a 30 per cent drop in visitors this year.

“This year, there have been many problems with the economy in France. Because of terrorism, there has been a 30 per cent drop in the number of visitors this year. We have also had strikes, like the petrol strike, this year that has affected us,” Nerrant had told RFI in August.

He also said that lack of financial support had played a big part in his decision. “Public museums receive government support and are not subject to VAT. That’s not the case with private museums. We can no longer pay the rent,” he said.

The 67-year-old former Air France pilot, who started the museum in 2013, said that the petitions filed by residents against the demonstration flights that regularly take place on the museum’s World War 2 airfield, led him to end the project.

The museum boasted a 3,000 square metre exhibition hall in which 40 vehicles and other items of the Second World War were displayed. It also had an airstrip and five hectares of land for demonstrations.

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