Are You Brave Enough To Drive This Classic Off-Road Ambulance?
Photography courtesy of The Finest
Just before joining the United States Air Force, I was given a sound piece of advice that changed the course of my future forever: “Be sure to get an AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) that’ll give you skills compatible with the civilian world,” I was told by many wise veterans.
It may sound obvious to the readers without military experience, but there are several military specialty careers with more transferrable skill sets than others—thankfully, being a JAG Corps paralegal somehow translated into automotive writing. I have no idea how this happened, but I’m sure glad it did.
Much like military specialty careers, service equipment is often tailored to job-specific functions—some can’t be retooled for civilian use, while others have potential for life after duty. Take this U.S. Army 1967 Kaiser M725 Ambulance for example. Sure, it was originally intended to carry out a very specific order: competently act as a mobile hospital on the battlefield—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful for something in the home front.
Built on a 1 ¼ ton Jeep Gladiator M715 chassis, this state-of-the-art Vietnam era rescue wagon can transport up to five stretchered patients or eight upright soldiers. The medical transport features air ventilators, a gas heater, a surgical lamp, and a door that separates the front cabin from the rear cargo hold. It probably wouldn’t take much to convert this into a do-it-yourself garage-built RV, either. It’s roomy, reliable, and robust, meaning it’ll carry a party of weekend campers anywhere.
Powered by a stout Jeep Tornado 230 straight-six cylinder engine producing 132 horsepower and 210 pound feet of torque, you won’t be the fastest 4×4, but it’s enough to slug the 5,180-plus pound rig to 60 mph with a good tailwind—fast enough for an old off roader, right? With sturdy front and rear straight axles equipped with hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes, though, its forté is definitely at probably 40 mph or less.
With such a large enclosure, it could make a great parts hauler for a shop or garage. How about converting it into a brewery tour bus? With the M725 mil-spec market averaging between $15,000-$25,000, this offers a ton of utility for very little coin. If you decide to preserve its restored olive drab and red cross “livery,” it’d make for a great 4th of July parade vehicle.
Leave it as is, convert it into a camper, make it a killer shop truck, or haul drunks from bar to bar. Whatever you do with it, it’s sure to be a good time for little money while giving this old wartime ambulance a civilian revival.
– Vietnam-era Army ambulance
~132 horsepower, Tornado 230 cubic inch OHC inline-six cylinder engine, synchronized Warner T-98 four-speed manual transmission, leaf spring suspension, and hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 165 inches.
Chassis no.: 12909
Federal stock no.: 2310-921-6369