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Weakness for wheels

When Steve Greenberg bought a used army tank, he knew better than to drive it home. But he named it Katie Sue after his wife, with a big heart painted on the side in World War II style.

Greenberg's M3A1 Stuart tank will be a big (13-ton) part of the Northwest Car Collectors Show at Portland Expo Center this weekend.

An army display will be among 200 cars and trucks in the Main Street USA 2002 exhibition. The accompanying swap meet will feature 1,200 booths and several hundred collector cars for sale.

'We're going to set up a World War II winter scene Ñ like the Battle of the Bulge,' Greenberg says. 'We'll have a Jeep, a 37-millimeter anti-tank gun, a machine gun nest with sandbags and concertina wire, a Dodge Command Car, an ambulance Ñ and my tank.'

Owning one's own tank is the Holy Grail of military vehicle collecting and vaults Greenberg to the top of his hobby. The 42-year-old Portland tree surgeon has been dabbling in military vehicles for 20 years and at one time used a 1944 Chevy 6-by-6 as his main work truck.

'I told my wife I wouldn't take any money out of the bank to buy it, and I didn't,' says Greenberg, who acknowledges that a World War II tank costs 'about the same as a new Chevy Suburban. É I sold my command car, my scout car and some other things.'

More than 4,000 Stuart light tanks were used by the U.S. Marines in the Pacific and by the British in North Africa, who called it the 'Honey.' But at only 13 tons, and with three 30-calibre machine guns and one 37-millimeter cannon, it was no match for a 26-ton German Panzer IV with its 75-millimeter gun.

Greenberg's tank was built in Pennsylvania in 1943 and sold to Brazil after the war. Luckily, it was stored indoors and returned to the United States in 1989 in good shape. Greenberg bought Katie Sue last spring after it had had a brand-new 242-horsepower, 7-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine installed. The tank is steered by braking one track or another to change direction.

Greenberg belongs to the Military Vehicle Collectors Club of Oregon, and Katie Sue lives at the Oregon Military Museum at Camp Withycombe in Southeast Portland.

For this weekend's show, Greenberg had one serious problem: The Battle of the Bulge was snowy Ñ how to reproduce that?

'I've bought sacks of rock salt,' he says. 'It's $4 a sack, and I got a discount for bulk.'

Contact Paul Duchene at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .