Letter Re: Surplus Ambulances as BOVs

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Perhaps an overlooked, but wonderful option for a BOV is an ambulance. You can often find used ambulances on eBay or at [fleet dispersal] auctions. They often have fairly low miles, have been well maintained and are most often diesel. They come with lots of storage compartments and equipment built in, as well most have propane fuel systems, generators, inverters etc. There is usually at least one “bed” in them as well. The outside storage compartments are often ready to go for the prepper as they are often diamond plate on the interior and have webbing for securing items in place. They are easily “hardened” and easy to drive. It is easy to remove the outer lights and replace them with other more TEOTWAWKI appropriate choices. You will of course want to have it painted….LOL.

We have taken our lovely BOV to the ATV park here and put it through some serious tests. I personally love the looks I received when driving a muddy ambulance (pre-paint job)….but like most prepper wives I am not your average soccer mom. It has some disadvantages as it is a pretty heavy beast, but I feel very confident in its capabilities. We also have a 4×4 Durango that we are currently working on for a second BOV. However, the ambulance is by far and away our favorite. – Prepper Mom in Washington

JWR Replies: When shopping for a surplused vehicle such as an ambulance at auction, look for one that is built on a pickup truck frame rather than a cargo van frame. Not only are they more sturdy, but the chances are much better that you will find one that came from the factory with a front differential to provide four wheel drive (4WD). (I am leery about buying a van that was converted to 4WD unless I know the details about who did the conversion. There are a lot of unqualified “shade tree mechanics” out there!

Needless to say, all of the usual caveats and disclaimers about buying at auction apply. If you aren’t familiar with inspecting vehicles (checking for leaks, inspecting tires, hoses and belts, checking for exhaust system leaks, examining dip stick colors, et cetera) then bring someone that is experienced along with you for “advice and consent” before bidding.