Friday, October 9, 2009
Somewhere deep in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey . . . IT LIVES ! ! !
The Gama Goat is a six-wheel-drive semi-amphibious off-road vehicle originally developed for use by the US Military for the war in Vietnam - it is no longer in service. Infamous for its articulated body, which allowed it to travel over exceptionally rough terrain and for the unique four wheel steering arrangement with the front and rear wheels turning in opposite directions, "The Goat" as it was referred to by GI's required almost daily maintenance.
The vehicle's name comes from two sources; "Gama" from the name of the inventor of its powered articulated joint, Roger Gamount, and "Goat" for its mountain goat-like off-road ability. Its military designation is M561, 6x6 tactical 1.5-ton truck. There was also an ambulance version known as the M792.
Some 15,000 Gama Goats were built at a cost of US$8,000 each; this was considered quite high at the time. While the Gama Goat had exceptional off-road ability, its quirky steering made it hard to handle on pavement, and it tended to founder in amphibious operations. Production was halted after the original contract expired. This is somewhat ironic, as some claim problems with "The Goat's" performance were largely due to cost-cutting modifications made at the request of the U.S. Army. "The Goat" is prized amongst military vehicle collectors because it is so unusual and in short supply.
Talk about Last of the Few . . .
The Heart and Soul of The Goat - the Infamous Powered Articulated Joint.
When I was in the 82D Airborne, these beasts infested the Division and were almost universally despised for the amount of heavy maintenance they required. I was almost taken aback at the feelings of joy and happiness this Goat evoked when I encountered it today. Nobody said a word as I popped open the engine compartment for a look at the 3-cylinder, 2-stroke Detroit Diesel engine - the owner of the body shop this thing is parked in front of is probably used to ex-GI's drooling all over his Goat. This baby's last depot overhaul was in '89, and has civilian registration dated 2006