What's the story?
For owner Iestyn Pritchard, this 101 ambulance is no museum piece – it’s a potentially life-saving bit of kit. Because when he’s not volunteering with the local ambulance service, Iestyn spends his time investigating underground cave systems with the United Cavers Exploration Team (UCET).
Caving is a dangerous pastime that often involves journeying into remote mountain regions where rescue is difficult, so what better vehicle for the job than a fully-equipped ambulance with the all-terrain capability of a Forward Control 101?
This vehicle was originally put into service in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. It was demobbed in 2001 and sold in the UK, but later made its way to Norway and ended up as part of the Norwegian collection that was auctioned by John Craddock and Julian Gostling in 2011. Luckily for Iestyn, the American who put in the winning bid underestimated the cost to export the 101 to the States, so it ended up on eBay, which was where Iestyn found it in March 2012.
The rear ambulance body is designed to be completely airtight, providing a safe haven in case of chemical attack, with clean air being pumped in via a filtration unit in the roof of the cab. There’s room for four casualties when the top stretchers are hoisted above the bottom two and locked in position.
On one wall is the original unit for connecting internal equipment to an external power supply – great for camping, but Iestyn isn’t going down that route. This is all part of Iestyn’s vision for a modern, working ambulance that retains its period character.
Our favourite bit?
Apart from the life-saving equipment in the back, the whole vehicle feels beautifully unaltered, and many of the original fittings are still in place. The military pick and shovel look fantastic after Iestyn had them shotblasted, and he’s also refurbished the front cross member himself. He’s now smartening up the original sand ladders, which will fit across the front.
And the verdict from LRO writer Theo Ford-Sagers?
‘There’s a lovely sense of living legacy with this old military stalwart. It seems to have shrugged off a long military service will little more than a few minor scuffs. It’s a fantastic tribute to the qualities of bombproof durability, off-road prowess and lifesaving aid that these vehicles were designed to deliver.’ By maintaining it as a viable ambulance for his caving ventures, Iestyn has kept this 101 true to its original purpose.
Engine: 3.5-litre V8, 128bhp, 185lb ft
Transmission: 4-speed manual; final drive ratio 5.57:1
Suspension: Parabolic springs with front anti-roll bar