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.”