While many sources were quick to point out Mythbusters nominally addressing the vague concept of Transformers in their most recent episode, a more significant test was also carried out over this past weekend. BBC's Top Gear, on their own initiative and without paid placement unwittingly addressed a fairly specific matter of the Transformers universe: Could Minerva's Porsche vehicle mode have any utility as an ambulance? Keep reading and find out!
The small Autobot Headmasters consisted of Hosehead, a fire engine, Siren, a Mazda RX-7 with emergency lights acting as a "fire chief" car, and Nightbeat, who was just a blue Porsche. When Takara began working out how to use these toys in Masterforce, the emergency vehicle theme was held to, and the Nightbeat mold was reconceived to fit with its companions. The toy now known as Minerva was decorated in emergency colors, down to using conveniently placed transformation hinges as its lightbar, and called an ambulance. Unlike Siren's redeco in to Go-Shooter which made the toy a police car, the Porsche ambulance has always been a hard concept to take seriously.
But, in the third episode of series 22, Top Gear's hosts were challenged to outdo Britain's standing ambulance fleet for overall performance using whatever vehicles they saw fit to convert for the task. Jeremy Clarkson chose a Porchse 944 Turbo and had it modified with the cosmetic features of an ambulance. And a battering ram, but that's not important now. Is this sounding a bit familiar? Fans have tried over the years to reconcile Minerva's vehicle mode by calling it a fly-car - a first-responder vehicle, effectively. However, Top Gear's concept required patient delivery, to demonstrate if a Porsche could be a true ambulance.
As one might expect of a Porsche, it performed very well in basic speed, and did well in time-trials. But the most important test was its ability to not only move a patient, but allow an EMT to administer necessary treatment in transit. Clarkson's Porsche was modified inside, removing most of the interior save for the driver's seat, opening just enough room for a stretcher to fit lengthwise along the passenger side of the car. A small space remained behind the driver's seat where an additional person could fit. Barely. In testing, it was found that there was not adequate room to move around the patient, and the roof of the Porsche was too low to make the test actions practical despite meeting the black and white requirements of having room to house a driver, patient and technician at the same time.
Later a transport test was carried out, pitting the three hosts against each other to see who could achieve the quickest total response time from leaving their improvised headquarters, reaching the site of a disaster, and delivering a patient to the hospital in the best health. Although the Porsche fared terribly in permitting medical care to be given earlier, it would ultimately prove to be the only vehicle that was able to deliver a simulated patient to the emergency room before they died of wounds inflicted by a meteor strike.
In the end, Clarkson's Porsche ambulance would lose the competition by a technicality. Surprisingly though, it proved that a Porsche could conceivably transport a patient, meeting at least one basic qualification for being called an ambulance. But transportation is all it was capable of, as treating a patient was effectively impossible in the extremely confined space.
So where does that leave the original question? Should we reconsider the perceived ridiculousness of calling Minerva an ambulance? Probably not. This wasn't a visionary concept by Takara's people 17 years ago. It was forcing an emergency-shaped peg in to a round hole, and it's only a matter of the wildest coincidence that any part of its proposed function would end up being proven at all possible almost two decades after the fact. This may stand to disprove the basic argument that Minerva couldn't even carry a patient, but Top Gear proved that was the limit of what a Porsche is able to do when pressed in to this role.
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