By on November 11, 2016

veterans day (steve corey/flickr)

It’s Friday, but it’s also Veterans Day. North of the border, it’s Remembrance Day — something I was reminded of when a pair of CF-18s buzzed this writer’s home at 11:11 this morning.

Because of the solemn date, our weekly look at odd automotive news will take on a camo green tinge. Sure, we’d love to regale you with stories of Allied forces turning their jeeps and 6×6 trucks into mobile gun platforms in the mud of western Europe, but that’s in the past.

Today, we look at a Syrian mystery vehicle, militants with wood, and a city terrorized by a bland color.


Far From Home

In Britain’s Independent, foreign correspondent Robert Fisk made a strange discovery in the rubble of Aleppo, the Syrian city at the heart of a murky, maddening and apocalyptic conflict.

Fisk, who (as per tradition) criticizes Israel before tackling the subject of the article, writes of the discovery of an ambulance in a bombed-out weapons factory in the besieged city. A right-hand-drive model, the vehicle certainly didn’t look local. The writing inside? English, with a message alerting everyone of its ownership by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

So, how did the vehicle find its way into the heart of the world’s bloodiest conflict? Was it donated in order to help relief efforts, or purchased without humanitarian help in mind? The vehicle’s VIN number was sent to the SAS, who have yet to respond.

One Scottish Reddit user has a likely explanation. The SAS auctions off ambulances that have been pulled from service, the user claims, with most of the vehicles bought by private ambulance services. That particular generation of Ford Transit models is notorious for its 3.2-liter diesel five-cylinder “going pop,” the user added.

Still, lifesaving equipment is normally stripped from the vehicles before a sale to private buyers, but the Aleppo rig still had it in place.


Have Wood, Will Travel

From the digital pages of the Daily Mail comes plenty of bikini-clad celebs and this tale of a comical discovery by Iraqi soldiers engaged in fighting near Mosul.

It turns out that ISIS militants might not have all the resources they desire.

After pushing insurgents from the outskirts of the ISIS-held city, troops discovered a partially assembled wooden vehicle sporting Flintstones-like tires and a body that closely resembles a U.S. Humvee. Depending on the thickness of the lumber used, it’s not likely the vehicle could take much small arms fire. Also, it would be hard for a small group of men to propel the thing with their feet.

Much more likely is that the wooden vehicle’s role was to serve as a decoy. Fake military vehicles have “served” armies for at least a century, usually in wooden form, but sometimes inflatable. The inflatable vehicles posses an even greater vulnerability to small arms fire. Never take shelter behind one.


Vehicles in the Color of a Rain Cloud Terrorize City

Okay, this isn’t a military story, per se, but bear with us.

Northwest of Rochester, New York, the residents of the small hamlet of Toronto have something evil in their midst.

That quaint village’s police force recently decided to equip its cruisers with a stealthy paint job designed to blend in to its surroundings and not raise suspicion. The trouble is, everyone’s terrified, and the force will soon have to revert back to a mainly white paint job.

The reason for the fear and complaints, which compelled city council to vote to stop the roll-out? Grey paint. Pending further review, the Toronto Police Service will now order the duty vehicles in their traditional paint scheme.

According to Global News, the council motion “put forth by Coun. Michael Thompson and seconded by Coun. Pam McConnell, asked police to retain the traditional vehicle colour scheme due to ‘growing public concern’ about the ‘military style stealth grey police cruisers.'”

Canada, which, according to itself, is “back,” has recently placed renewed emphasis on its tradition of peacekeeping, because the Boer War, World War I, World War II, Korea, the First Gulf War, Kosovo Air War, Afghanistan, Libya, and the early rounds of anti-ISIS airstrikes were flukes.

Maybe that explains Toronto residents’ fear of grey Ford sedans driven by people they pay through their property taxes.

On a related note, here’s a photo of this writer’s military vehicle during a road trip in 2009:


[Steve Corey/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0); Michael Curi/Flickr (CC BY 2.0); Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0); Toronto Police Service/Handout]

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22 Comments on “Freaky Friday, Military Edition: How Did a Scottish Ambulance Get to Aleppo?...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not a fan of Joni Mitchell but Toronto’s police cars should all revert to their traditional safety yellow colour.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      Agree. Do we want to blend in with the background like a predatory stinging fish? Bring back canary yellow. You once knew who had the police car and who was offering the help and guidance. This municipal vehicle is not entering a fashion show. It is not supposed to look “good” on you. If we can’t afford two-tone, then back to a distinctive colour.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember many years ago when the City of Lafayettte decided to paint all of their squad cars a medium grey so they could sneak up on bad guys easier. They quickly switched back to black-and-white when the realized that the number of accidents while responding to a call skyrocketed because other drivers could not see them either, especially in foggy conditions. Makes me wonder how long the all-black look will last until they find out the same thing is happening to them.

  • avatar

    That looks like regular-ass Magnetic grey to me. It’s a nice color, in my opinion.

    In towns nearby to me, many police vehicles are fully murdered-out, down to ghosted matte black logos on black paint, black hubcaps on black steel wheels, and hidden lights. God help you, if they turn their lights off at night.

  • avatar

    What’s Aleppo?

  • avatar

    HAPPY VETERANS DAY where appropriate .


  • avatar

    Why would someone care if a used ambulance found its way to a war zone? I’d rather that than a “western” military vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      Yea, I think there are some mondo individual efforts going on there whether it be getting a Scottish ambulance or what have you.

    • 0 avatar

      Given that insurgents’ favorite vehicle, the Hilux, is everywhere, tracing the ambulance might provide some insight into supply sources and financing of terrorists.

      • 0 avatar

        @Lorenzo – did they ever figure out how a plumber’s F250 out of Texas ended up as a gun platform for ISIS?

        An ambulance finding its way to a war zone being used as an ambulance is small potatoes in comparison.

        • 0 avatar

          Think about it: An ambulance would make a great stealth bomb delivery platform. There were worries right after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 that stolen ambulances would be used as bomb delivery platforms. I could see this happening in today’s Syria.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Face it. They are all upset cause they stopped using Panthers!

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. It used to be, if you saw a Panther in your rear view mirror, it was a cop or a cab. Owners of black Town Cars and Mercury Marquis could have some fun on the road too.

      Seriously, though, I prefer my law enforcement the way I like my taxes – out in the open where I can see them. Hidden taxes are too tempting for politicians, and hidden police cars don’t deter crime with their presence.

  • avatar

    Steph you can buy used ambulance surplus off the net from brokers and get it shipped by container. I doubt the Syrian dictatorship had any strict import controls in that area.

    Toronto grey scout cars. Just local media stirring a storm in a tea cup. I don’t mind the color if it nabs lousy driving. And ya know – that’s just it – the lousy driving is more of a public threat than some perceived military look…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure its fun for Steph to portray us as a bunch of sensitive pansies, but I get the sense that most of us just don’t trust the police to use any decreased visibility for good. It’s somewhere between anger and annoyance, not fearful hand-wringing.

      The bad driving is absolutely a problem, but it doesn’t seem like anyone in power in the city, or entire province, cares about much beside speeding.

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