New Daily Driver: 1971 M-792 Gama Goat

Your new daily driver is this 1971 M-792 Gama Goat. Traffic jam? Slow left lane driver? You get the idea. This traffic monitor is on eBay with a current bid of $2,500 but the reserve isn’t met and there are almost three days left left to get your bids in. This rig is in Pilot Rock, Oregon and I’m guessing the shipping for this one may not be inexpensive.

The Gama (or, sometimes, Gamma) Goat was named for a combination of its inventor’s last name, Roger Gamaunt, and having the abilities of a mountain goat. Or, at least theoretically the abilities of a mountain goat. They are actually a six-wheel drive articulated vehicle, not a four-wheel drive vehicle pulling a trailer. The front and rear wheels steer for some decent maneuverability and a turning radius of 29-feet.

The official military name for this unit was the M-792 and it was the 6×6 1-1/4 ton ambulance version of the M-561 cargo Gama Goat. Only 1,758 Gama Goats went to the Marine Corps with the remaining 12,516 going to the army. They were made in and for the Vietnam War era, from around 1969 to 1973, and they were designed to be air-transportable and could be dropped with a parachute. A very, very heavy-duty, tough parachute, as they weighed about 7,300-pounds. The tail gate is missing on this one so hopefully you know a military collector for spare parts.

This Gama Goat has a working emergency brake but the brakes aren’t currently in working order. “Hello, Pep Boys? Yeah, I’ve got a ’71 Gama Goat and..” If you don’t want this thing after watching this YouTube video of it in action, well.. I don’t know what to think! This M-792 (or, the M-561) will cruise at a top speed of 56 mph! That’s movin’!

Here’s the power behind this tough ol’ goat: a 160 cubic-inch, three-cylinder Detroit Diesel 53 two-stroke engine with about 100 hp. The noise was so great that operators had to wear ear protection! And maintenance wasn’t easy given the double-hull construction for amphibious duties and the articulated drivetrain. A lube job took six hours. I would have absolutely zero use for this monster, but I want it! I don’t think I could drive it the 40,000+ miles a year that I currently drive, but I fantasize about having something like this on the road sometimes.. Would you have a use for this fantastic machine?


  1. Howard A Member

    Stacy David from Gearz had one of these. He claims, they are rare and if one is found, to snatch it up. They are street legal. I mean, what other kind of vehicle has a “hump angle” of 140 degrees. :) Not sure why the military would be shanghaied into using a boat anchor motor like that. Guess Detroit Diesel had some friends in the military. (and warehouses full of them) I heard, they had “twitchy” steering, and of course the noise from the motor was annoying, but boy howdy, it would go through just about anything. These don’t come up often and at this price, it should be gone by the time it comes off early access.

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    • Dave Wright

      That “boat anchor” engine is an aluminum block 3 cylinder that produces over 100 hp and a ton of torque………I know industrial engines pretty well, don’t know of anything else that would work as well.

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      • Dave Wright

        Maintenance is very easy, the entire engine/trans/radiator assembly is built into a cage and is removed in one piece. We could remove the entire assembly in maby 30 minutes with the correct tools. The transmission is a common T98, the engine is uneque in that it is an aluminum block. It is very compact and light for what it does.

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  2. Dave Wright

    I have owned several of these and may have to buy this one. They are not terribly rare but were only legal to sell without being destroyed for a relatively short period of time surplus. They were selling surplus, a buddy of mine was buying all that came through the system and all of a sudden, they started showing up on the battlefields in Central America……so the policy changed and they had to be destroyed after that. We did a engine change on one of them, installed a crate 350……was a bolt in project, more power than the 3-53 and a lot less noise. That jimmy sitting next to you it gets pretty noisey. crews were required to wear hearing protection to drive them in the later years. Last one I bought came through GSA about 10 years ago……got through the system because it was misidentified as a Dodge 6X6……the contracting officer had no idea. Sold it to a large ranch in Colorado. These are great fun and have some limited swimming abilities. We had an outboard bracket on one of them to increase there speed in the water. Great toys, any of them that came through the system are legal to own.

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  3. Harv Falkenstine

    I was stationed in an Artillery unit in Germany from 1975-1978 and we had these, they were so slow the M109 SP Howitzers would drive away from them. You could hear them from miles away when we were supposed to be under noise discipline.

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  4. JW

    Awesome !!! I want it but don’t need it and have nowhere to drive it but to my weekly Sonics cruise and that’s because it’s only 3 blocks away.

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  5. Blindmarc

    Probably still faster than that Alfa with a stock engine….

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  6. KeithK

    I see this with a slide in pickup camper slotted into the bed. Camp anywhere. With hearing protection of course. As an owner of a vintage camper, I have great fun pulling into a site at the state park next to million dollar motor coaches. This would be over the top !

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  7. Rich O.

    Reason the VA pays for my hearing aids and batteries now!! Ha! Ha!

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  8. Noel

    A better video of its off road capability – The 1:21 mark is interesting….

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  9. Mike P

    We had one of these for hauling communications gear in the Corps. Took it from Camp Geiger to Fort Bragg for a field op, it blew the head gasket in downtown Fayetteville. Major smokescreen, an Army major stops the convoy and demands that we stop the gamma goat. Our Comm officer tells him in the nicest way possible to take a hike. Made it almost back to J-Ville adding water the whole way. Lt. Boccia was his name, he was killed in Beirut, October 23rd 1983. That’s him front and center in the picture.

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    • Mike P

      I have no idea why the picture is upside down. Dang internet.

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      • Dave Wright

        These are the best …..although tragic………stories. Real people and experiance, not some sanitized Wikipedia post being regurgitated whether it is correct or not.

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  10. Alan (Michigan)

    Not a ton of interest in this one, for some reason. Bidding stalled at $3150, still below the reserve, with 3 hours left.

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  11. Tim W

    Mike P., Thank you for your service. Interesting machine, for sure

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  12. Robert

    I drove one of these in 1980-81 with 3/6 FA at Ft. RILEY, KS. We tried getting them stuck and couldn’t. We would swim them in Milford Resorvoir and had no problems unless you for got the plates on the bottom and then they’d fill up pretty fast.

    Like 0

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