The armoured scout car AKA the “ferret” comes roaring to life at the Lt.-Gen E.C. Ashton Armoury Museum in Saanich.
It is a smooth ride in the armoured vehicle that looks like a mini tank. It has a six cylinder engine, five speed transmission forward and reverse, and reaches up to 50 kilometres an hour.
The vehicle, which is operated by a driver and crew commander or gunner, was originally used in 1964 in the first deployment to Cypress from the Fort Garry Horse reconnaissance out of Winnipeg.
It it outfitted with a 30 cal. machine gun with room for six smoke grenades, high explosive grenades and other personal weapons.
As a reconnaissance vehicle, it would have been used for internal security, intelligence gathering or as a liaison and would have been serviced by the service battalion.
The 9,000-pound vehicle still runs surprisingly well despite being decades years old.
The reason the ferret and other vehicles from the 39th service battalion are running so well is because of the crew that keeps them in shape.
“The vehicles are all operational, it’s not like going to a regular museum where people have to look through the plexiglass,” said Chris Preston, the scout car driver, who is responsible for checking the oil, and coolant, and making sure the headlights and horn still work.
“It’s a way of keeping on the continuity of contact with the forces.”
Preston is one of roughly 15 volunteers (many who are ex-Navy) who help run the Ashton Armoury Museum and help with the upkeep of some 21 vehicles.
The museum represents four units: the service battalion, field ambulance, military police and signals squadron. Along with the vehicles, they also have displays featuring thousands of items belonging to the battalion stretching from as far back as the Napoleonic area up to the current day.
“We’re showing off a bit of military history,” said Dick Reynolds, fleet maintenance manager who has worked at the armour for almost a decade.
“It’s the camaraderie we have here, plus the camaraderie we get on the streets when the drive the cars. I just love it here.”
The ferret, along with six other vehicles including command and military police jeeps and two Canadian multipurpose vehicles will be on display at the Esquimalt Celebration of Light’s Cars, Rods and Rides show in September.
“There’s enough people who can remember there was an army barracks on one side here,” said Lorne Argyle, organizer of the car show. “I’m 70 years old and grew up here and I remember them.”
The free event is on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Archie Browning parking lot. For
more information, visit esquimaltcelebrationoflights.ca.