Amidst the never-ending stream of online classifieds, this 1967 Kaiser M725 Ambulance currently for sale from Street Dreams Texas is practically leaping off the screen at me. Is it the blood-red medical cross? The boxy profile? The morbid mystique of the stretchers? Given pause, I realized that the real appeal of this $19,500 olive ambulance is its potential. In my highly imaginary ownership of such an impressive vehicle, the daydreams branch off in one of two directions: preserve and honor, or reimagine and transform. For fun, let’s inhabit the minds of two differently-brained enthusiasts. Are you The Preservationist or The Creator?
The preservationist values the sanctity of things, taking pride being a caretaker of our past, even if it’s a lowly base model. In regard to war history, the allure of mil-spec vehicles is often tied to the champions who originally served in them, in addition to the charms of the machines themselves. This M725 is no exception.
The M715 and M725 (G-890s) are classic brutish-looking late ’60s monsters from Kaiser-Jeep, based on the civilian Gladiator platform. While the M715s were implemented for versatile utility in the field, the M725 prioritized mobile medical aid or terminal transport as ambulances. Their run was limited from 1967–69. These machines were called upon for essential medical duties, bearing witness to the wrath of war and the toll it takes. The Preservationist wants to honor that service as truthfully and accurately as possible.
Maybe that means following little clues about the truck. An aged Worcester County Fire Board sheet, like the one below, could be the beginning of a years-long investigation into the truck’s history—a starting point for researching all of the small Atlantic coastal counties listed in the region, hunting down information that promises a story of the vehicle’s life to this point as a veteran.
Those rear mil-spec folding stairs sure are sturdy, and could be great for tours of the inside. As the curious folks climb in, they’ll notice the tight space, separated only by a small sliding door from cab to cargo. Just imagine it cramped full of 5 horizontal patients or 8 upright wounded men, with a foul stench in the air and eyes burning from smoke. The Preservationist will carefully explain the switches that control all of the standard exhaust ventilators, surgical lamp (by Swivelier, PAT 2678381) and gas-powered heater that made the conditions a little more manageable.
The Peservationist will be happy with the Tornado OHC 230 engine, which will serve up 132 hp at 4000 rpm, with the truck topping out at 60 mph. When his local streets are lined with kids cracking smiles as he chugs on by, top speed won’t matter.
Better snap this one up before some ambitious Creator gets a hold of it.
The Creator values an opportunity for reimagination. Something that would be an ode to Kaiser-Jeep, albeit a splash of individuality or invention. Think of the possibilities with something so inherently rugged and roomy!
The back of the M725’s 5/4 ton travel pod demands functional use of this space without erasing the flavor of its history. Should it be an expedition-style trekker? A retro-refined RV? Food truck for hospital workers? Zombie apocalypse rig?
Plenty of room in that engine bay for something a little spicier than that straight-six, right? A V-8 might fit nicely in there, especially if highway drives are on the agenda. Something more advanced than stock, with much more power and better fuel economy will make living with this adventure machine a lot more tolerable and convenient.
Its axles (Dana 60 front, 70 rear) can stay a little while longer but could use an upgrade in time, especially when the new engine arrives. Maybe some of the stretchers go, but not all. Pre-made shelving and sleeping bunks are hard to come by, after all, these were made to take a beating. An absolute must however, is a lighter shade of paint sprayed in there to make the room feel less boxed in and more airy.
This is the foundation of The Creator’s ultimate vision. There won’t be another one exactly like it, when all is said and done.