Home » Phoning It In: The Land-Rover Minerva Ambulance Was Literally Half-Assed

Phoning It In: The Land-Rover Minerva Ambulance Was Literally Half-Assed

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So far, the examples used in our sporadic Phoning It In series have been the sorts of things where carmakers seemed to just not really give a shit, and the results have been certainly lousy, definitely laughable, but almost always generally harmless. I think in part this is because none of our Phoning It In examples have been designed to be ambulances made to operate in war zones. Until now. My friends, please thrill to the non-giveashittery of the effectively literally half-assed Land-Rover Minerva ambulance.

I saw this remarkable car at Goodwood, where it was up for auction, perhaps to complete the collection of a fellow phoning-it-in appreciator like myself. The car, a 1952 Land-Rover Minerva ambulance, is interesting for a lot of reasons, even before we get to the phoning it in part. First, and most obviously, there’s the name: Minerva.

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Minerva was once, long ago, a maker of expensive and elegant cars based in Belgium. The marque had a lot of respect for the quality of their cars and engines, but the financial fecalstorms of the 1930s effectively stopped their business of luxury automobiles. After WWII, the company pivoted to building licensed Land Rovers for the Belgian army, which is what the example we’re looking at now is part of.

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You may notice a few differences in the Minerva-built Land Rovers, like the sloping front fender faces (which I’m sure solved every aerodynamic issue the car had) and that oddly angled spare tire mounting setup.

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Oh, and of course there’s the huge MINERVA badge on that more ornately-shaped grille, too. That’s a big tell.

But, none of these details are why I consider this ambulance phoned-in. This is why:

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See what I’m getting at? This might make it clearer:

Amb Side Person

Yes, it’s the fact that the bodywork of this thing is really only enough to enclose half a human body, lengthwise. There’s room for two stretchers in there, but it still really only comes out to one person, because you just have two halves actually inside, and two halves outside, hanging hilariously out the back.

Well, it’s probably less hilarious if you were a wounded or injured person and half your body – hopefully the lower half, but there’s nothing to say they couldn’t have loaded them in the opposite way – is bouncing around out behind the ambulance.

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The flimsy-looking framework that supports the paired halves of stretchers and their unfortunate occupants is a V-shaped bit of pipework that seems to be connected to the rear tow hitch assembly on the Land Rover. You’d think for something as important as an ambulance they’d be willing to spend the time and money to have an extended wheelbase vehicle so you can at least get the entire body of the injured soldier actually inside the vehicle. This is like half an ambulance trying to do the work of a full one, right?

Well, maybe. But this is one of those rare cases of Phoning It In where there are actually reasons for it beyond being a cheapskate and/or being lazy and just not donating a brace of BMs. In this case, there’s actual reasons, ones that have to do with the grim realities of war.

In the case of this ambulance, the thinking was that a general-purpose Land Rover was valuable enough that it made more sense to make an ambulance that could be dismantled and the base vehicle easily returned back to general-use Land Rover style. This does accomplish that goal very well, since I bet you could de-ambulance this inside of ten minutes.

Also, it’s worth noting that this is hardly the only absurdly sketchy-looking military ambulance. Look at some of these WWII- and post-era Jeep ambulances:

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See? Not so different. In fact, those ones with the two stretchers each on the front and rear seem even sketchier, but I think the primary goals here were to just move the injured people away from where they got injured in the first place, as fast as possible, and I think all these machines did just that.

So, I guess we’ve got a first for the Phoning It In series: the kind where it almost makes sense. They pretty much had to phone it in, because phoning it in was all you could really get away with, given the situation and circumstances.

Even so, I bet the poor bastards who got halfway shoved into one of these sure wished they had a whole ambulance.

 

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Phuzz
Phuzz
10 months ago

If they’d just waited a couple of years they could have used one of the 107″ Land Rovers, which could fit almost all of the patient inside.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

Soldier wakes up in Minerva ambulance.

Medic: “The good news is the doctor managed to fit you in.”

Soldier: “What’s the bad news?”

Medic: “Here, have some morphine.”

Last edited 10 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
10 months ago

Look at all that leg room!

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
10 months ago

Probably easier to ship or airlift a quantity of these fold-out ambulances than longer wheelbase ones.

That diving board effect over bumps, tho…

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

As far as wish lists go I’d think not needing an ambulance at all would be higher than how many asses the ambulance has.

Jbavi
Jbavi
10 months ago

After watching the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, I think that was all the space they needed

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
10 months ago

Back in the 80s my dad tried to buy one of these that mysteriously found it’s way into America (back before the 25 year import rule). My dad, growing up a military brat, knew exactly what it was, but everyone else just saw a ratty, odd-looking Jeep. Sadly, he and the seller couldn’t come to terms on price and my dad walked, but for years after he would talk about how cool it would have been to have owned it.

On a side note, I did get to climb in and lay down on the extended carrier, even on an original stretcher. It was less sturdy than you would expect for something intended to hold a grown human while driving off-road, but I don’t know if that was because it was old and falling apart or if that was just how it was built.

A few years later my dad tried to buy a large military ambulance, like the ones used on M*A*S*H where there were murphy beds on the sides that could hold two or three on each side. My dad was literally handing over the cash when my brother pulled up the carpet on the floor and shouted he could crawl through the rust holes. My dad was tolerant of mechanical issues, but was not tolerant of major body work, so once again he walked. All these years later I wished he had bought that one, though either would have been neat.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
10 months ago

I think the front spare wheel is a brilliant thing! Porsche and Volvo also did it on their jeeps.
When we had the the spare wheel on the front of our 1978 VW camper bus, we could park super close to a wall without scraping the steel bumpers: Pretty smart. And fun.

As for being transported on a stretcher in a short wheelbase old Land Rover over a knobby battlefield: These are the only words I can think of

But good job, JT, getting both ass and fecal in there. Nothing else was expected 🙂

Last edited 10 months ago by Jakob K's Garage
GertVAG
GertVAG
10 months ago

Yaaay, a Belgian car ! Welcome to the land of René Magritte and beer.

The flat front fenders had to do with tooling, after the war it was easier and cheaper to press fenders like this rather than the rounded Landrover fenders. The cars were completely manufactured in Antwerp with a license from Landrover. The army and the Gendarmerie/Rijkswacht used them extensively in the fifties and beginning of the sixties. Here in Belgium, they still command quite a price due to their Belgian origin and being in fact Landrover series 1.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago

A series about half-assed jobs on a half-assed publication schedule is the kind of meta I’m here for.

When writing, however, Jason always whole-asses everything.

A. Barth
A. Barth
10 months ago

*looks at topshot*

Blue Man Coupe?

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
10 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Take your damn smiley face.

Ricardo
Ricardo
10 months ago

The spare wheel mounting could have been a way of trying to creating some sort of front crash protection, or to stop them using the Jeeps as bulldozers.

I have seen pictures of mine site vehicles in Australia with a fire extinguisher mounted on the front of their 4×4 site vehicles in the same way. The workers are told it is for safety which is half true, the other half is that it is to stop them pushing things around with the vehicle (like shipping containers, boulders, other vehicles etc) and to instead get one of the big yellow vehicles to do the job.

A. Barth
A. Barth
10 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo

I was thinking the location of the spare might have been chosen as a way to counterbalance the weight of the patient(s) that would be cantilevered off the back of the vehicle.

(People were smaller back then.)

86TVan
86TVan
10 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo

Maybe but you’d turn what would be a minor bumpe- bender into a smashed radiator…

Ricardo
Ricardo
10 months ago
Reply to  86TVan

Actually, I just figured out that the spare would normally be mounted on the rear of the vehicle which would not work anymore with the patient bed sticking out the back.
I also guess they wanted to keep the bonnet free for some reason.

86TVan
86TVan
10 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo

stack another stretcher!

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
10 months ago

Continuing from talk of M*A*S*H and halfassery below, while the “hero” Jeeps driven by main characters were always flat fenders, wide shots of the motor pool often showed more M38A1s than would likely have been in the mix in Korea. Don’t look at them too closely or you’ll see CJ-5 specific details like “Jeep” stamped into the fenders and even sidemarker lights, painted over as part of the general olive-drab repaint, likely to standards that would’ve made Earl Scheib wince.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
10 months ago

As shown by the WWII Jeeps the have the stretcher hang out the back design had some history. I’ll still give the a little flak because by 1955 Willys had an ambulance kit that held one stretcher almost entirely in the vehicle by folding down the passenger seat back so tge casualty was partially next to the driver.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

Better than a horse and a travois. Also, these — and those Jeep ambos — were intended to rapidly collect casualties from a battlefield. That overhang style allowed soldiers to load stretchers all the way into ambulance without having to get into the vehicle themselves which would take more time and expose the medic crew and patients to more danger.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Also, quite a few of those soldiers were shortened in combat and mostly fit into the ambulance.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

I bet if you are injured and still on the battlefield you probably not worried too much about what fancy car hauls your ass to triage.
That being said I recall the opening of MASH where they strapped a litter sideways on the hood. Anything is better than walking especially if you got your legs blown off. Hey mbut then you would fit inside.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The kicker is when you get the $3,500 bill for that half-ambulance ride.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
10 months ago

And from this idea, the modern pop-up camper with push-out beds created…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popup_camper

VolksWinkle
VolksWinkle
10 months ago

Old saying in the military…”Never forget ALL of your equipment was produced by the lowest bidder.” Half assery was perfected there! We made the best of it!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  VolksWinkle

,..and that for plenty of it, either due to type of product or exogenous time constraints, there is limited commercial market engagement to help sort out what’s good/works vs what doesn’t!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago

They basically did this with Jeeps in the credits for M*A*S*H every week, moving the wounded from the choppers to the ER.

I always thought it spoke to the true versatility of these sorts of vehicles, and why Klinger (IIRC) was trying to mail one home piece by piece at one point.

10001010
10001010
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Wasn’t it Radar mailing the jeep home piece by piece? I think it was Klinger who tried eating a Jeep piece by piece to get his section 8. I don’t recall, it’s been a long time since I watched that show. Big part of my childhood though.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Oh you’re right! I was close though…knew the company clerks were involved, somehow.

I catch an episode now and again, and damn it’s amazing how good that show is and still holds up all these decades later. One of the all time best for sure.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I remember the line, “His mailman is going to have a retroactive hernia.”

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