SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s not because it has a flawless paint job or flowing classic lines in its design.
It might have more to do with the 30-caliber machine gun sticking out front.
Don Cooper loves cars, old, new, slow fast, his collection of classics includes this 1960 Cadillac Deville. A few years ago he came across a deal he couldn’t refuse for another vehicle.
“A fellow called me and offered it to me at a bargain price,” said Cooper.
That bargain price got him this..
Cooper is the proud owner of this armored car which he keeps in Tea. Small in stature but big on weight, almost five tons, this is a Ferret.
“This has a Rolls Royce 6-cylinder engine, gasoline,” Cooper said opening the engine compartment.
The Ferret is a British-made armored scout car produced shortly after WWII. It has seen service around the world.
“This particular one spent its whole life patrolling the Berlin Wall, so there is a lot of history here it hasn’t seen any combat as such but a lot of history,” said Cooper.
“Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!” the crowd cheers.
The Berlin Wall separated Soviet-supported communist countries from the West between the end of WWII until 1989. Cooper isn’t sure how this vehicle ended up in the U.S.
We wanted to know more, so we reached out to the Tank Museum located in southern England.
The Ferret was made by the Daimler company of Great Britain which made about 4,400 of them.
Museum Curator David Willey says speed and stealth are the Ferret’s best attributes.
“It’s small, it’s very nimble, quite fast, I’m sure he’s very sensible when he drives it the private owner, but that idea that if it met something you can back off quick,” said Willey.
Produced by the British Daimler company between 1952 and 1971, the Ferret can go just as fast in reverse as it can going forward. Willey understands why Cooper treasures it.
“I bet the owner thinks every time, we all do this don’t we if are private owners of classic cars or vehicles, you open the garage door and you fall in love again don’t you every time you do that and there is something rather cute about a Ferret as well. I know it sounds a stupid thing to say about military vehicles but it just looks about right slightly chunky tires nice and small but still looks like it would give you a nasty bruise if you go in the wrong place with it,” said Willey.
Some are still in service in the Middle East and Africa. Ferrets have been spotted in Ukraine as that country tries to repel a Russian invasion.
“We’ve seen imageries of Ferrets already out in Ukraine, that have been sold on, sometimes upgraded with a new weapon in the turret, but they are being used by the Ukrainians out there at the moment,” said Willey.
For Don, owning the Ferret is just…fun.
“A lot of people take movies, they will pull up alongside with their camera and take movies as they go by, pull into a gas station to fill gas, and it’s ‘My god I’ve never seen anything like that!’ Where did you get that?'”
This Ferret is street legal, it has turn signals, brake lights and is licensed in South Dakota.
“I had a highway patrolman chase me down one time when I was going to a parade and he came up once I got to the parade and said you didn’t do anything wrong, I just want to look at it.” laughs.
Don enjoys owning this rolling piece of history He says when he’s on the streets other drivers tend to give him a little extra room.
“I tell everybody when I drive this I don’t have any problem with road rage.”
Especially with the barrel of a 30-caliber machine gun sticking out the front. We should let you know the real fully automatic machine gun has been removed. Cooper says the gun barrel is just for looks and doesn’t fire.