Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance

By: Lyndsay Whittle


Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance
Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance
Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance
Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance
Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance Vintage truck: Ford V8 ambulance

In order to examine a classic example of a World War II military ambulance, DOW paid a visit to MOTAT in Auckland. That’s where we saw this vintage Ford V8 ambulance from the war.

On the day of the visit, the weather was particularly inclement – with the pouring rain looking like it was going to ruin any chances of getting any decent photos of MOTAT's 1940 Ford V8 ambulance.

The diabolical weather on the day, however, came as somewhat of a blessing in disguise, as it provided a cold hard look at what it must have been like for the army personnel who had the unenviable task of collecting sick and wounded soldiers from the battle field in rain, hail and snow.

It's interesting to note that ambulances didn't change an awful lot in function in New Zealand from the day of the 1917 Model T right up to as late as the 1970s, as up to that time it was very much a 'load and go' situation.

Unlike the ambulances of today, where advanced care paramedics and ambulance officers are able to administer high-level pain relief and life support, early vehicles were designed simply to remove the patient from immediate danger and transport them as quickly as possible to the nearest medical facility.

In comparing the Model T to the V8 (note that both vehicles are from the Ford Motor Co stable) it's easy to see the advancements made to the newer vehicle were mainly at the front end.

By 1940 the four cylinder engine of the 'T' had been replaced with the more-powerful flat-head V8 and the two forward and one reverse gear available on the Model T had been upgraded to a four speed crash gearbox.

While unlike the Model T the V8 was fitted with driver and passenger doors, however if you needed to put some 'glass in the hole' you had to stop and retrieve the windows from the back of the truck and fit them manually.

In the back-end however, not much had changed where patient stowage was concerned, as it was a simple case of racking and stacking them and getting the soldiers out of harm's way in the shortest possible time.

In short, both vehicles would have had their plus and minus features, as it has to be remembered that both trucks were designed for use in entirely different conditions.

For example, the Model T was designed to travel over what were not much more that horse and cart tracks.

To that end its higher ground clearance and narrow wheels would allow it to access places that would bog the V8 down in short order, whereas on the improved roads of the 1940s the V8 would have provided both patients and rescuers with a far more-comfortable ride.

As the old saying goes – it's horses for courses.

Thank you to Toby Hutton from MOTAT for showing us the old V8 on what had to have been the wettest – coldest day so far this year.

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