Sole sur­vivor to be at event

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - MARK PRICE

THERE were 1600 Rover Sun­beam am­bu­lances built dur­ing World War 1.

But only one has sur­vived. And, it will be at the Ar­mistice Day cel­e­bra­tions at Lake Hawea.

Owner Ja­son Rhodes, of the Na­tional Trans­port and Toy Mu­seum, and his band of me­chanic vol­un­teers have been busy this week mak­ing sure it is ready to run.

Some of the prob­lems with own­ing the last of a line are that there are no spare parts if there is a break­down, and there is no in­struc­tion man­ual to an­swer such sim­ple ques­tions as what sort of oil it needs.

For those rea­sons, it is rarely used on the road, al­though it will trun­dle through Lake Hawea on Ar­mistice Day.

‘‘We don’t take it out willy nilly; it’s just spe­cial oc­ca­sions

. . . just run it ev­ery cou­ple of years.’’

Mr Rhodes said this week the am­bu­lance car­ried New Zealand sol­diers from the bat­tle­field and had the sil­ver fern on its side to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from Aus­tralian and Bri­tish am­bu­lances.

It was made in Wolver­hamp­ton by the Rover Com­pany, and af­ter the war was one of many dis­trib­uted around the Com­mon­wealth. It has pre­vi­ously been used as a mor­tu­ary van and a camper­van.

PHOTOS: MARK PRICE

One of a kind . . . The sole sur­viv­ing World War 1 Rover Sun­beam am­bu­lance is pre­pared for the 100th an­niver­sary of Ar­mistice Day by Na­tional Trans­port and Toy Mu­seum owner Ja­son Rhodes (right) and me­chanic vol­un­teer Ross MacFad­gen.

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