Kaiser M725 Ambulance


The Vietnam Era

Rear The M725 was the military ambulance version of the Kaiser Jeep M715 1-1/4 ton truck. Based on the Jeep Gladiator (SJ) pickup and built during 1967-68, these trucks, also known as G-890, were the first M-series tactical vehicles made up mainly of civilian parts.

Dash The civilian origins of the steering wheel are pretty obvious. But the data plates (240K JPEG) on the dashboard clarify that this is a military truck.

It was powered by an improved Tornado 230 inline-6 engine (180K JPEG), whose civilian version had suffered a bad reputation from early oil leakage problems.

Rear The aluminum rear body (see the interior, 60K JPEG) accommodated multiple stretchers. Standard equipment included a surgical light, air ventilators, gas heater, and a sliding door separating the cab and rear compartment.

This rear view also shows the two standard jerry cans. Hidden below is the spare tire (240K JPEG).

Eric Hanson photo The drive train behind the Tornado could be called bulletproof: a Warner T98A transmission, NP-200 transfer case, and Dana 60 and 70 axles.

This photo by Eric Hanson is very similar to a black & white factory photo (190K JPEG).

Steffen Kahl photo The ambulances saw action in Vietnam, but were mainly used as transport by Army surgical hospitals rather than directly in combat. An M725 is seen here in 2016 with a UH-1H Iroquois as part of the "Vietnam Experience Exhibit" at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant SC. Photo courtesy Steffen Kahl on Flickr.

Service After Surplus

Hangar 25 Air Museum When the ambulances were designated surplus by the military, which in many cases was within ten years, they were offered to Civil Defense and other first-responder organizations. This example had served at Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring, Texas, and when the base closed in 1977 it remained in service locally. It's now part of the Hangar 25 Air Museum in Big Spring.

Miami This one was painted in safety yellow by Miami County Emergency Management in Indiana. It had been formerly owned by the U.S. Forestry Service, and before that by the Navy, judging from the dashboard (50K JPEG). It was acquired by Miami County as surplus in 1996 with an odometer reading of 7615 miles, and retired from service in 2000.

RearThe cavernous interior of the Miami County truck shows its potential as a command center or a rescue truck, although use as a civilian ambulance was probably rare.

See also photos of the: left side and spotlight handle in the cab (50K JPEGs).

Mulvane KSMulvane Emergency Services in Kansas kept their M725 known as "Hawkeye" (right) in military-style paint until they sold it in 1987.

See also a front view (80K JPEG) and a rear view (70K JPEG) of another example painted yellow for civilian fire & rescue by an unknown fire department.

Milton MA Lighting Unit

Milton MA The Milton (Massachusetts) Fire Department Auxiliary turned an M725 provided by Civil Defense into a lighting truck in 1979. Primarily tasked with supporting the fire department with incident lighting, it was also given built-in storage for medical and rescue equipment.

The role of ambulance was not completely left behind -- the interior included room for transporting a stretcher case if necessary, using a Stokes basket carried on the roof. Photo courtesy A.J. Illenotna.

Generator The main generator was mounted on a slide-out tray, and its output powered six circuits with twist-lock connectors located in the lower compartment. Also on board were two portable generators, extension cables and eight 750-watt floodlights.

Lighting The floodlights could be mounted on the truck, or externally on extension poles. This photo was taken at a DWI roadblock where the Milton Auxiliary was providing lighting for the police department.

Air ambulance The truck could well have been recalling its days as an Army ambulance, when it stood by as a Boston MedFlight chopper arrived at an accident scene.

Left side The roomy interior meant that Milton's M725 was also available for use as a command post, and its four wheel drive meant it could access areas unreachable by other apparatus for fire or medical calls.

Photos courtesy of Capt. Paul Hopkins of the Milton Fire Dept. Auxiliary.

Harrells NC Brush 142

Harrells VFD Many of the Kaiser M715 military pickups were converted into brushfire trucks by municipal fire departments, but for some reason the Harrells, North Carolina VFD decided to build their Brush 142 by trimming away the aluminum body panels from an M725 ambulance. I would like to find a rear view photo of their truck.

Third Time Around

Front After reaching the end of their second careers in fire and rescue, some of the ambulances are being picked up for recreational use, or being returned to their original olive drab by collectors.

This 1967 truck, also seen in the photos at the top of this page, was owned by the Newark, Maryland Volunteer Fire Department. After being sold by them, it was fully restored in its original Army Medical Service livery, and then sold again through StreetDreamsTexas.com.

Mopar concept Possibly the most unusual example of a recreational M725 is the truck customized by Mopar in 2021 as a concept vehicle to be shown off at SEMA and other car shows. They called it an offroad support vehicle, and it should be offroad-capable with its reinforced frame, heavy-duty link/coil suspension and HEMI V8. But the roof also rises by 16 inches and a side panel opens, to turn it into a mobile bar.

Cab The cab of the Kaiser Jeep M725 concept is comfortable but utilitarian. The original three shift levers have been replaced by an ammo box center console holding the single shifter for the vintage TorqueFlite 727 automatic transmission. Photos courtesy Stellantis.

Thanks to the photographers and to Capt. Paul Hopkins of the Milton Fire Dept. Auxiliary. Photos also courtesy of StreetDreamsTexas.com and the Hangar 25 Air Museum in Big Spring TX. -- Derek Redmond

See also Willys Ambulances and more Willys Military Ambulances on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 3 March 2023 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond