CLEARWATER — At a time when government agencies are trimming vehicle fleets, the city of Clearwater is auctioning a World War II-era Jeep it has owned for nearly 50 years.
The auction will be held Saturday at Tampa Machinery Auction.
The 1945 Willys Jeep, a rusted relic in faded apple-red, sits outside the city's general services building at the head of a line of newer police cruisers.
According to the earliest registration on file at general services, the city obtained the Jeep in December 1963 from Pinellas County Civil Defense, now known as the Department of Emergency Management.
It is unknown how much, if anything, the city paid for it.
It might have been one those $1 transactions or it might have been free, said Clearwater emergency manager Rick Carnley.
He said the county most likely bought the Jeep from a military surplus yard in Starke, near Camp Blanding.
For a time, the Jeep was fitted with a water pump and used to combat brush fires. On one occasion, when the city did not have access to a crane, workers used the Jeep and a borrowed winch to hoist a transformer up a utility pole at a local baseball field.
George McKibben, Clearwater purchasing manager, told the City Council at a Jan. 11 work session that the most recent plan would call for restoring the Jeep. But it would cost $5,000 to restore the body alone.
"What you'd do with it would be ride it in parades," he said, "and we just can't afford that at this time."