1957 Chevrolet Ambulance: Rare and Scarce?

1957 Chevy Wagon Ambulance

As far as listings for cars with unknown heritage go, this 1957 Chevy 2-door is a humdinger. Said to be the remains of an ambulance conversion, there’s only a few trace elements backing the story up. Listed here on craigslist for $10,000 or potential trades for a WRX, Tacoma or Mini Cooper, the etched glass and spinning bucket seats are unique enough to be solid clues that this was at one time an ambulance, but there’s little else here to substantiate the seller’s claims of heritage. It’s covered in surface rust and who knows where else corrosion is hiding, but for the amount of work involved in what would otherwise be a fairly ordinary Chevy wagon (i.e., not a Nomad), the seller may need to do some more homework or adjust his expectations – or both. What do you think it is? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Charles H. for the find.

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Comments

  1. BILL GRAHAM

    Now this is more like it. Unusual, interesting, some redeeming value for me to open the site.

  2. cory

    I believe there are some oddities on this car. The windows are unique. The bumpers look odd. It is too bad most of the medical equipment is history. Would definitely be a cool ride, but would require a lot more research to get that price

    • Warren Johnson Member

      It’s a streched sedan delivery you can find it in chevys truck book.

  3. don

    cool wagon, not sure if I believe the story or not.

  4. Ed P

    If the story is true, this must have been the econobox version of an ambulance.

  5. MikeW

    Rare and scarce doesn’t make it more valuable. It is a limited market and will be hard to find a buyer at that price.

  6. Dolphin Member

    The upside
    – It’s a ’57 Chevy wagon, maybe with A/C

    The downside
    – Internet search turns up no information about this vehicle or that any number were ever made
    – Internet search turns up no evidence that Barrett-Jackson ever auctioned a vehicle like this
    – If it’s not mentioned on the internet, or anywhere else it seems, how does the seller know what he has written in the listing?
    – Seller has lost storage, but his ‘storage’ was a field, which hasn’t done this poor ’57 any favors

    • Warren Johnson Member

      It’s a streched version of a sedan delivery
      You can find it in chevys truck book. Not many were made.

      • DERRICK

        115″ wheelbase

  7. The Walrus

    I believe the story. In fact I saw it in a movie once. It was parked in front of the hospital in The Wizard of Oz. It was surrounded by Munchkin paramedics.

    • dan westerberg

      was it a time machine ? the wizard of oz was filmed in 1939 .

      • Clay Byant

        It was a pre-production car. It was shown alongside the new Motorama 1939 Corvette. (Ya’ had to be there)

  8. Nsfob racing

    http://youtu.be/CWAVu1CXlFs

    Here is a video of a 56. Etching is similar as are the seats. My only problem is the lights are not built into the roof is the listing

  9. jaygryph

    That car has been on and off craigslist here for a long while. I seem to recall when they started out it was between 2500 and 4500, though I can’t remember exactly. It’s in a different back yard than it was when it started, but I’m reasonably sure it’s the same car. Can’t be many of them around this area. Neat car, but they’re out of their mind with the price.

  10. Fred

    Methinks someone, maybe 20 years back, decided to make themselves an “ambulance” out of a common wagon. Generally, a ’57 Chevy ambulance (or hearse, they sometimes were one and the same) looks like this one, which a funeral home near me has owned since new.

    • Warren Johnson Member

      It’s a streched sedan delivery. You can find it in chevys truck book. The one in your pic was built on the station wagon platform by an aftermarket company

  11. TJP440

    HMM, no interior pic’s, a 3spd stick I’m guessing, A/C conversion on the floor, a tach on the dash and CUSTOM steering wheel. Nice side window treatment, especially the louvers, HMM maybe they were there to cool the medic’s / patients down . 10K he’s on crack, meth or LOCO weed. LOL

    • DERRICK

      2 speed power glide

  12. Carl W French

    There were indeed Ambulance conversions done on the 57 wagons. It would be a great Antique Ambulance if finished but it needs so much. I wish he took at pic of the back from the rear to get a good idea of what it really would need. Sounds like another case of “OMG!! BJ sold a car just like my car but all painted up for $$$,$$$!! Mine must be worth $$,$$$!!

    • Shayne

      This was my Father’s. I rode in it as a kid. It was in Sheridan Or for 30 years. The story is true.

  13. Doug Towsley

    I am not too sure about the price. Maybe if it was really cleaned up and validated that it was running, and details about the motor and trans. There ARE pics of the interior but not much. So, probably over priced. But i DO believe it was an ambulance. I am not sure why people are doubting it. Theres a lot of unique features and details on it. Its also in central Oregon, in the high and very arid desert. I work over there sometimes and relatives in the area. Not a lot of rust. perfect climate to store a car. unless it lived elsewhere very unlikely anything other that surface rust and no serious cancer. Over priced? Probably, but it looks pretty straight to me and a good candidate for a resto or hot rod. Doesnt mean cash offers on site wouldnt bring this home.

  14. Carl W French

    There is ONE picture of the interior and it is of the front which tells me very little about it’s ambulance background and what is still there and restorable. If he is pushing the ambulance provenance and it’s value there, I need a few pictures of the rear. Some of that stuff is all but made of unobtanium. Nice however that it is stored in the climate.

    • Doug Towsley

      somebody email him and ask for more pix, details. Im not going to bother someone for a car i have no intention of buying but if someone did email, post the pix here. I am about 2.5 – 3 hrs from there. Not a lot of shipping options unless someone drags it over the Mt. into Portland. The plates on it are mid 70s to mid 1980s so thats probably when it was last on the road. Would have been cooler if it it had the earlier Blue plates with “Pacific Wonderland” on them. Those are very desirable here in Oregon. Wouldnt matter if you are out of state. But the Blue plates are a nice touch for period hot rods and restorations here.

  15. Warren Johnson Member

    Chevrolet built these cars on the sedan delivery platform. They can be found in chevys truck book. They are roughly 2 feet longer than the standard sedan delivery. I have a book on the 1955 model. Not many were made, not sure how many, and they are rare.

  16. Peter

    I’m not a “Tri-Five” guy because, admittedly with some exceptions (gassers, etc…) they just leave me…unmoved.

    But I do like certain wagons–of many bands/eras.

    ANYWAY…for the “Tri-Five” guys:

    As Cory noted: “The bumpers look odd.”

    Odd, indeed. Notice what appear to be rubber “teats” on the ends of the “Dagmars” (hey, if John Stewart can use the anatomically-correct word on The Daily Show,” we should be fine, here, on the interwebs, right?

    (And no: John Stewart was not talking about “Dagmars”.) LOL

    But walk with me–IF those points on the Dagmars are, in fact, the equivalent of “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” to me, that would support the Amublance Theory. While I’ve never worked in the EMT/LEO industries, I could imagine scenarios in which an ambulance would have to push a stalled/unoccupied vehicle out of the way, in an emergency situation.

    In that case, as a form of “risk management,” spec’ing the ambulance with (admittedly small) rubber “pushers” would make sense, in terms of minimizing damage to cars being pushed by the ambulance.

    And I can’t make up my mind, but I’m leaning AWAY from this being an ambulance (crazily, after writing the above, I admit) because:

    1. Where are the emergency lights/beacons, SIREN, on the roof, etc….?

    2. Where are the missing interior pics of the (unique-to-ambulances) switch gear for these electric devices?

    3. Where are the empty mounting holes (conveniently, no roof pics supplied) consistent with such lighting, siren(s), if missing?

    So what is the theory–that it’s a stretched, sedan delivery that someone replaced the glass in, from a wrecked/decommissioned ambulance, or that some had the existing glass etched?

    Peter

  17. Peter

    I’m not a “Tri-Five” guy because, admittedly with some exceptions (gassers, etc…) they just leave me…unmoved.

    But I do like certain wagons.

    ANYWAY…for the “Tri-Five” guys:

    As Cory noted: “The bumpers look odd.”

    Odd, indeed. Notice what appear to be rubber “teats” on the ends of the “Dagmars” (hey, if John Stewart can use the anatomically-correct word on The Daily Show,” we should be fine, here, on the interwebs, right?

    (And no: John Stewart was not talking about “Dagmars”.) LOL

    But walk with me–IF those points on the Dagmars are, in fact, the equivalent of “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” to me, that would support the Amublance Theory. While I’ve never worked in the EMT/LEO industries, I could imagine scenarios in which an ambulance would have to push a stalled/unoccupied vehicle out of the way, in an emergency situation.

    In that case, as a form of “risk management,” spec’ing the ambulance with (admittedly small) rubber “pushers” would make sense, in terms of minimizing damage to cars being pushed by the ambulance.

    And I can’t make up my mind, but I’m leaning AWAY from this being an ambulance (crazily, after writing the above, I admit) because:

    1. Where are the emergency lights/beacons, SIREN, on the roof, etc….?

    2. Where are the missing interior pics of the (unique-to-ambulances) switch gear for these electric devices?

    3. Where are the empty mounting holes which, IMO, SHOULD be visible, in the frontal-roof pic supplied, consistent with such lighting, siren(s), if missing?

    4. What appears to be A/C inside the veh. looks suspiciously like Vintage Air’s product line, available currently. Wouldn’t ALL ambulances have had FACTORY AIR, even back in 1957, just for the health of the patients, and the SAFETY of ALL, in terms of having a crew that was not sweating bullets? (I’ll show my ignorance here–factory air DID exist, back in 1957, right?

    So, my theory is: someone got a hold of some etched glass, and a rubber-tipped bumper (IF that is unique, as I admit I don’t know) and “made” themselves a faux “ambulance.”

    Side Q: When was the first factory A/C available, in ANY car?

    Peter

    So what is the theory–that it’s a stretched, sedan delivery that someone replaced the glass in, from a wrecked/decommissioned ambulance, or that some had the existing glass etched?

    Peter

    • DERRICK

      I just bought the car or actually traded my HARLEY! I can show you were the sirens were mounted and I have contacted the Amity oregon historical society for more information. I also have a letter from the owner after the state of oregon retired the car, that is if anyone is interested .

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Hi Derrick, congrats on the trade! Very interesting rig. I am sure there are a lot of people aside from myself that would like to see more photos. Best of luck, Mike.

      • Derrick

        Here is a sideview of the most rare body for a chevy wagon I have ever seen. This car isnt setup with a backseat and the passenger seat swivels to help the patient. I do have a letter from a previous owner verifying the ambulance story.

      • jaygryph

        That’s a heck of an interesting car. It’s been on craigslist in Oregon for a very long time. Somewhere I think I have the saved ad from when it first popped up, sitting in the weeds somewhere.

        I think it’d be great just to get it going as is and leave it looking the way it does for now, but if it’s indeed as rare as they say then a full resto would not at all be out of place.

        Hopefully we’ll see more of this interesting car.

  18. Warren Johnson Member

    Factory air was available in 1955 sedan deliverys. Widows were also available. I have a salesman book that shows the options available. I also own a 1955 sedan delI very with windows.

  19. George

    Just a quick glance of images shows that “rubber baby buggy bumper(ettes)” were the norm on the 210 wagons.

  20. Rocco

    Very interesting.
    Maybe it was a stripped down version for transporting the dead(no sirens or lights needed). The vents in the back possibly to let odors out. I’ve seen a few older cars with factory air that had the under the dash units, but this car might not had air new since it was in the northwest. Just a few of my observations.
    I would like to see more photos(roof,interior,eng.bay,back hatch open).

  21. Warren Johnson Member

    Pic from my salesmans book

  22. Clay Bryant

    Back in 57 if you imported a car into South America you paid a little over 3 times what it was worth in taxes to get it into the country.No tax on ambulances so you can imagine how many 57 Chevy wagons were brought in as ambulances.Quite a few were sent south then.Would be interesting if someone dug up export records to see how many.

  23. Woodie Man

    Lots of speculation darn few facts except from Warren Johnson. I would think some tri 5 club folks would have seen or heard of it and picked it up if it was real….whoops…..more speculation

    • jaygryph

      That car was on Craigslist for a very very long time. I think it started out around 4k when it first showed up then jumped to 10k or so and hung out there for a long long time. Would be interesting to know what this car actually is and what it’s real value is.

      • Derrick

        The guy I got it from didnt know much when he first purchased it in fact the person he got it from didnt understand the true rarity. After a few inquiries and homework the ambulance story was realized to be true. Thats when the price went up. Now recently when i obtained the car a closer look revealed the body to be completly different than a wagon , delivery or nomad.

      • jaygryph

        The reply system on this is annoying how it stops after a couple replies, it breaks conversations.

        In reply to Derrick below, it’s entirely possible that body is a flexible or scoville or some other small hearse/ambulance conversion. The car was probably not produced in any real numbers and may not have been GM’s doing at all.

        I’ve owned a number of interesting wagonish hearse/ambulance conversions. A lot of times airports or army/navy bases would have these. It’s paint being red tells me that at one time it was probably a fire department vehicle. As I heard it the military often only spec’d having two side and one rear door as a cost saving measure and because they weren’t used all that often.

        It’s a cool car for sure, I don’t doubt it was really used in some sort of emergency or medical care, but the source of the body may not have been GM, and may not have been made in any numbers enough to make it common.

        If it had old lettering it’d probably be over the windshield, and on the front doors. I doubt there’s much left of it but careful wet sanding might reveal some under there.

  24. jd

    shot of clear coat and a big block~some butt cushions~think I found me a ride~hope the lights work~woo woo comin through~

  25. Derrick

    Minimal numbers for sure, my understanding is this 1 of 40 but that is not written in black n white yet in my documents. Whether it is military or another form of rescue squad conversion I personelly have not had time to verify that being said there are holes were the sirens apear to have been mounted on roof. Oregon historical society should contact me soon i hope.

    • jaygryph

      Check out The Professional Car Society.

      They’re not the people you want to talk to if you’re planning on hotrodding it, they have very strong opinions about that sort of thing, but they’re by far the best knowledge base for professional cars like hearses ambulances and flower cars, limos as well I spose.

      If anyone will know about that vehicle, it will be someone on their web forum since it’s mostly a bunch of super old guys who have hoarded these things and made them their hobby for decades.

  26. Derrick

    Ok will do! Thankyou

  27. Doug Towsley

    Well regardless of whatever it is, Its a cool car and Im sure you will have fun with it. Until a Drunk driver ran over me I used to have a sticker on one of my Harleys “I got a Harley for my wife, It was a good trade!” I think “Split the difference” and Hot rod with an Ambulance theme. Then get some really cute girls in Nurses outfits to ride with you to cruise in’s and shows. You will easily win because old Guys love seeing young ladies fussing over them, (Even if they never have a shot at them) Have them walk around and do blood pressure checks. Cliche rock video in the making right there.
    When doing promotion work I have hired models and they are very effective if you find good ones. At some of our events at the museum Ive had them do event registration, or ambassadors at the entrance handing out materials or when at other events have them go around and hand out promotional materials. For the museum we have to keep it very PG. One young lady “Miss CJ” dressed up in period 50s outfit. All the old guys swooned. They kept borrowing her for photos. She was on the cover of our newsletter and sometimes is rotated on our website. The irony was she also do fetish and lingerie photo shoots as well but we did not mention that to the museum board members. Another club has several versions of Miss Maggie Neato, She is the unofficial ambassador to the BSA owners club of Northern California and someone pens an advice column by her name in the newsletters. Some pretty funny stuff about polishing hardware, engine sizes and such. You can find some pictures if you google Maggie Neato and BSA. Probably NOT a lot of models in southern or Central Oregon but you can post ads on CL but high weirdo factor but several profeshional model sites I have hired from “Model Mayhem” is a good one I have used. They list photographers, makeup artists and other skill sets as well. Hey! Make your own calendar and merchandise to fund the rebuild!

  28. Derrick

    Thats awesome and clever , love the calender idea! Yep any ideas thro them my way.

  29. Doug Towsley

    Thanks Derrick, Well I cannot claim its all that original of an idea. Bill Gibbons from ZZ Top really took the idea and ran with it. He loved old cars and someone explained how structured the right way, there was tax advantages if he tied his old cars to his business (Music) At one time he had clones of some of his cars making the show car circuits and he was able to do all kinds of things while writing off the expense or other tax and business schemes. I forget the names of some of them but he had some really cool cars and motorcycles built and every one was tied to the ZZ Top merchandise scheme. Others have done similar.

    You could do a calendar AS the car is now, Sexy nurses, Paramedics, Or even a Zombie response team, Ghost busters? or other ideas. With modern tech you can actually print them fairly cheap with some shopping around. Sell them online and at events to fund the rebuild or restoration. There is a lot of places you can design your own stickers, banners and magnets, buttons color glossy’s, you name it. All to promote and fund the rebuild.

    Go to a car show, dress up as the Mad doctor and your naughty nurses and set up a display, Sell photo sessions with the naughty nurses and paramedics. Old guys and people with a sense of humor would line up for a photo session, Posing with, Strapped to a gurney with a Nurse Dominatrix, Naughty para medics with Jumper cables doing a heart restart.

    I have a friend who started a very influential series of MC shows here in Portland. Now he has corporate sponsorship and so successful he gets paid to consult and put on parties and events around the US and overseas. Called “The 1 Show” Earlier shows he hired local teams of Roller Derby girls to act as Security, and hostesses. It was VERY affordable and they promoted their events. It was considered very cool and crazy women on roller skates in their Derby outfits. Win-Win!!

    Promotions can take a variety of directions if you think outside the box. A marketing plan still being discussed years later was hatched right here in Portland by my friend Arun, Director at MotoCorsa. They got the nod to premier the new Ducatis for the US and it was a REALLY big deal for the Panigale new sport bikes. So the very first images released to the public was Motor corsas calender. A super attractive woman draped on the bike for each month and next to her was the EXACT same pose and shot only with hairy and goofy guys in womens outfits matching the lady model. They even renamed the bikes MANingale, and DUCATIexotica. The story went viral, (A success in most peoples books) and every media outlet covered it. Some people thought it was great, and some people were horrified. Either way it got people talking about Ducatis.

    See: http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/banter/photos-ducati-1199-panigale-moto-corsa-seducative-manigale/

  30. Shayne

    Derick this was my Father’s car!! It was n active ambulance for the city of Amity Oregon.

  31. Derrick

    Thats awesome, times have changed a bunch since i posted. I dont have the car anymore, but if you ever want to check it out its in Sweethome, oregon. I live in Oklahoma now. I had to sale it so I can move and take care of family. I bet your dad loved driving that car, it would have been a lot of fun to restore.

    • Shayne

      Thank You soo much for responding!! I will keep trying to track it down!! Can I ask what you got for it??

  32. Jay

    I didn’t see any of the interior pics and I am here late in the game. I can tell you what I do see. I see a sedan delivery that was possibly ordered with windows. The VIN would verify that it was built as a delivery. It has the V on the gate (which looks like the one piece delivery “door”, or lift gate), so it was built with a V8. Therefore the VIN should begin with VD57 followed by the letter designation for the plant where it was built and then the sequence number. It looks like the one piece gate because I don’t see any hinges at the bottom gap like a wagon would have. It almost definitely has not been stretched. The windows have been changed from what a windowed delivery would have had. Windowed deliveries had the same windows as 2 door wagons but the window behind the door was fixed and didn’t roll down like the wagons. Someone made the quarter window and the diagonal divider between the glass and louvered metal panel. It also has the delivery side trim with the straight spear on the quarter and no diagonal paint divider like a 150 wagon would have had. I have no problem believing that it was used as an ambulance in a small municipality. And remember they didn’t have EMTs in each ambulance the way they do now. A lot of times an ambulance driver knew nothing about medicine. Their job was to get the person to the hospital. So not having any seat in the back is not surprising.

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