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The Avtoros Shaman Ambulance Is Like an 8×8 Freightliner on Steroids

If this is coming to get you, you know you really screwed up.

byJames Gilboy|
Trucks photo


Medical helicopters may have saved countless lives over the years, but they're not always the right emergency response vehicle for the job. They're prohibitively expensive to buy and operate and can be grounded by poor weather, making them too specialized a tool for some remote, poorly funded medical teams to use. That's probably why Russian all-terrain vehicle manufacturer Avtoros has turned its colossal Shaman 8x8 off-roader into what might be the most capable ambulance on Earth.

Made famous on an episode of Top Gear a few years back, the Shaman is a specialized all-terrain vehicle mostly aimed at well-to-to outdoorsy types, such as oil princes. Now, Avtoros hopes to also court emergency responders, and with the help of another Russian firm, has refitted the Shaman's cargo area for ambulance duty. It's now available surgical theater-grade lighting, cabinets to store medical equipment, HVAC, seating for four EMTs, and accommodation for up to two patients. And of course, lights and sirens.

Beyond these mods, the Shaman-bulance is mechanically identical to a normal Shaman, meaning it spites a nearly 10,600-pound curb weight to be a near-unstoppable all-terrainer. Its eight, low-pressure tire-wrapped wheels are connected by locking differentials, and all eight can be steered, be it to crab-walk around obstacles or navigate tight mountain trails.

Motive force filters down through a two-speed transfer case and a six-speed manual transmission from a 3.0-liter, four-cylinder Iveco turbodiesel, whose 146 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque can push the Shaman up to 44 mph on land—or 4.3 on water with the optional propeller attached. Returning 9.4 mpg, the Shaman's nearly 69-gallon fuel tank gives it a maximum range of close to 650 miles, making it capable of responding to remote calls for help.

Should the Shaman ambulance enter service with any emergency response teams, it will inevitably become an odd sight to sore eyes expecting a helicopter, and not an 8x8 off-roader. To the rest of us, though, the Shaman is little more than an aspirational toy that ignites our inner four-year-olds. As Shamans seem to start at $215,000, though, the only way to please said inner child is by letting it run wild with the Shaman's online configurator. There are worse ways to spend a lunch break.

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