Rare Amphibious Ambulance

During the Fourth of July celebration in Seward, Nebraska, this remarkable vehicle was parked outside the Nebraska National Guard Museum.

It is an M-792 “Gama Goat” 6×6 amphibious ambulance. This one was built in 1971, and less than 15,000 of them were made. They were manufactured by Consolidated Diesel Electric Company for use in the US Army and Marine Corps and could transport three patients on litters with one medic. The power plant in this one is a Detroit diesel 3-53 two stroke, and the vehicle is articulated in the center to enhance its off-road ability. The nickname was derived by combining part of designer Roger Gamaunt’s last name with the vehicle’s goat-like mobility when traversing rough terrain. It has a top speed of around 55 mph on land and 2 mph in water using only its wheels for propulsion. This thing is a beast and looks like an absolute blast to drive as seen in YouTube videos like this one.

The Gama Goat wasn’t in production very long, 1969-1973, and was seen, at the time, as a symbol of the military’s wastefulness and incompetence. It was years behind schedule, went through drastic design changes and ballooned in cost. Senator William Proxmire, known for his “Golden Fleece” awards that highlighted government waste, summed it up this way while addressing the Army’s procurement deputy, Brig. Gen. Vincent Ellis, during a Congressional hearing:

“I do not want to be unfair to you, but I am astonished that you were pleased with the Gama Goat progress. You have got a program that is three years late, and you have a truck that is three times heavier than it was supposed to be, and it does not have any bigger payload, and one that is twice as expensive as the original estimate. It seems to me that you are an easy man to please.”

Show and Shine in the Fourth of July City

We spent Independence Day in Seward, Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City. This town takes America’s birthday very seriously and has hosted a celebration virtually every year since the town was established in 1868. The town is located in Seward County, and both were named for William H. Seward, a Republican and strong opponent of slavery who served as President Lincoln’s Secretary of State during the Civil War.

Seward has less than 7,000 residents, but the number of attendees at this annual festival is estimated at an incredible 40,000. This year it included everything an American could want for the country’s birthday celebration such as an anvil firing; flag raising complete with reveille and the firing of an historic cannon; parades and fireworks; an apple pie eating contest; a craft show with vendors covering the entire courthouse square; live music and blocks of food trucks; Revolutionary and Civil War era soldier encampments; actors portraying Presidents Lincoln and Grant mingling with folks at the Nebraska National Guard Museum, and so much more. Happily for me, there was also a car show, so here are a few pictures of some of the entries. Note that the ’54 Willys Jeep is for sale, priced at $19,995 obo!

1936 Chevrolet Coupe
1972 Dodge Charger
Rat rod with Punisher grille
1954 Chevy Bel Air
1953 Chevy Bel Air Gasser
1959 Dodge Coronet
1954 Willys M38A1
1937 Pontiac
1930 Model A

Automobiles For College Students Were Frowned Upon in 1927

“Educators indict the speed-craft of academic youth principally on the charge that it is a time-waster, a peril to safety and a menace to morals, and generally they are unable to see that it possibly can have any particular utility anywhere near the halls of education.”

Here is the entire article:

I am guessing school administrators underwent a change of heart once they realized the funds they could generate by overselling parking permits.

1922 Ford Model T

Where Did the Word “Jalopy” Come From?

No one knows for sure, apparently. The most popular theory is that it was derived from the name of a place in Mexico, Jalapa, where many used cars were supposedly sent from the United States during the early 1900s. The word first appears in print in the 1920s, and I did find the above explanation in newspapers as early as the 1940s. Newspaper readers of the 1940s also submitted these possible explanations:

  • In Germany, sloppy dress was called “sallopp” or “jallopp.” Hence a sloppy or run-down car could be called a jallopy in American slang transformation.
  • The Czech word chalupa means a small house or shack badly in need of repair.
  • The German word Schaluppe, meaning a small boat or sloop in poor shape.
  • The Spanish word dilapidado means squandered. Mexican border Spanish first changed it to “jeh-la-pi-DOW,” and then to “jeh-LAH-pay,” and finally, in American slang, to “jalopy.”

Whatever the origination, the US government adopted the word to encourage the scrapping of old automobiles for the war effort. This article is from October of 1942: