Aired Out Ambulance: 1940 Packard 180

Purchased from an elderly man several years back the current owner of this Packard Ambulance has invested a tremendous amount of time and money into this one of a kind cruiser. Featuring a modern suspension and drive-train, this Packard is ready to roll comfortably and in style. So far bidding has reached $5,600 for this lengthy cruiser. Check it out here on eBay out of Fernley, Nevada.

Under the hood resides a 75,000-mile small block 350 V8 mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. I was surprised by the 5 speed, as it seems most cruisers like this feature an auto. So beyond the engine is the guts and feathers of the suspension. A mustang two front suspension was grafted, as well as a 4 link rear with a small C-notch. Needless to say, a great deal of work has been put into this Packard. An air bag suspension has been added allowing for all the comfort you could desire with proper ride height on the roads. Once you have reached your destination you can air out the suspension and “lay” running boards. A great deal of effort has been put into this machine to ensure that it is a comfortable and cool ride. Everything reads beautifully, but everything is not shown in the listing. I will say that the engine bay is tidy, and the engine is dressed up nicely with polished parts.

The cargo space is vacant, just begging to be converted into something useful. A limo comes to mind, as does a camper conversion. How neat would it be to roll up to your favorite swap meet in your awesome motel room? Most of the rear interior paneling is in fair to good shape, but the doors are lacking door panels. Also, the seller neglected to take photos of the cockpit, but I have a feeling that it is nice.

The paint and bodywork aren’t too shabby overall, but there is some minor work that could happen to make it better. There are a couple of subtle dents on the driver rear fender, and at the bottom of the rear door area. Overall the paint isn’t too bad, but there are some chalky areas along the roof and rear door. The faded paint looks like it could be gently polished to a nice shine. New glass and weather stripping has been installed in this machine so you even have the joy of great visibility. Modern repro wheels and tires are fitted that offer a sharp yet period look that a modern wheel would certainly throw off. With a little polishing, this awesome cruiser would be fantastic. Would you cruise around in this sleek Packard, and what would you do with the cargo space?

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Comments

  1. Sam61

    Ambulance from the Godfather bringing don Corleone home…

    Like 12
    • Sam61

      My bad…

      Like 2
  2. Jeff

    The Godfather Ambulance is a LaSalle however both are very kewl.

    Like 14
  3. Mountainwoodie

    I would prefer the original. Enough said.

    Like 22
    • Ken

      Seconded.

      Like 7
    • Skid

      With the wood ramp in the back, I would think it is more a hearse than an ambulance. It has a lot of the ambulance lights, in a funeral procession I could see those being used. Either way, if I had a 30’ deep garage it would be a great ride. You’d be the only one at any car show for sure!

      Like 4
    • Paul Joseph, Luiso

      Me too! Something this beautiful should have been restored to its original glory. I wouldn’t exactly call this an abomination but something close.

  4. Richard Hines

    I’d use it for a taxi. Gas, grass, or ass, nobody rides for free.

    Like 7
  5. Triumph Guy

    Butchered. What a waste.

    Like 11
    • Kurt

      so true. Cost too much to return it to stock.

      Like 6
  6. NotSure

    I know that it’s not a hearse but when I go I want this to haul my ashes. On the way everyone can stop at the local 7-Eleven for a slurpee and some smokes. Hopefully one of my good friends will still have a clear head at that point and will slip the urn out of the back and tip it into the dumpster behind the store. With that out of the way it should be off to the nearest ice house where the mourners can conduct a beer inventory in my memory. I just want a ride in a Packard once and this scenario would scratch the itch!

    Like 18
    • rod444

      “Mommy, where’s Grandpa?”
      “In the dumpster behind 7-11”
      “Oh.”

      LOL.

      Like 7
  7. markp

    A chopped top would look radical on this since it is so long.

    Like 5
  8. Howard A Member

    Here we go again, limited interest. This poor person gonna take a heck of a bath here. They must have literally tens of thousands into building it, and can’t even get a 1/4 return. I think it’s really cool, and about the best rendition of a vehicle like this, I’ve seen. It’s kind of a tank to be a daily driver, but this could be a neat camper type thing, I bet it floats down the road. How long can people get 1/4 of their investment, or more importantly, lose 3/4 of their investment, before they say nuts to this stuff? It’s coming folks, and cars like this prove it.

    Like 7
    • Rodney - GSM

      Not every car is built for profit. Many are built just for the joy and fun of creating your own vehicle. I am guessing this builder had fun. Isn’t that enough?

      Like 26
      • Howard A Member

        You know, I hear that a lot, like it’s the only justification in this craziness. Not sure about your bank account, but to me, losing $30 or $40g’s can’t be any fun.

        Like 6
      • Rodney - GSM

        Making money and having fun with how you spend your money are two different things.

        Like 14
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        I’m building up a car and it sure isn’t for the money. It’s mostly for the joy of the build more so than even the ride in it. It’s to bad it always has to be about the money. If I had a place for this I’d love to have it. And I’d put in a luxury interior too. I’m not sure I would keep the air bags I’m not a big fan of the slammed look. I’d also repaint it I don’t care for the colour. The only bad thing about a car like this is there expensive to store and take up a lot of space, and that will be what’s hard about buying and owning this nice old sled.

        Like 1
  9. Mitch Ross Member

    Had it not been so heavily modified, I guess it would be worth more. We don’t know if the builder started with the car missing its original drivetrain or not. I would never buy anything with a SBC in it, but a Cummins 5.9 8 valve would have been cool

    Like 2
    • Norman Wrensch

      Mitch how do you come up with 8 valves in a 5.9 Cummins? 6 cly needs at least 2 valves per cyl that makes 12.

      Like 3
  10. Midwest Jeff

    The arch-nemesis of this build is the common speed bump.

    Like 6
    • hmck3

      It has air bags.

      Like 7
  11. H5mind

    Not sure that paint will take much of a polish- it looks more like primer, not top coat.

    Like 4
  12. Bing

    I would put in four luxury bucket seats and some consoles in the back, sign up with Uber and drive the wheels off it.

    Spend the winters in Florida and take Yankees back and forth to the Orlando airport, and play golf when I wanted a break..

    Like 6
    • Rock On

      Uber has very strict restrictions on the year of vehicle it allows. It may be 5 or 10, but they would definitely not allow this. Not too many customers would get into this car when it arrived at their house.

      Like 1
  13. walt

    Perfect party/concert/fishing/hunting machine, put a kegger & all ur gear in back & enjoy the weekend. [Throw in some whacky Be-octhes]Where can I find this?

    Like 5
  14. pacekid

    Be careful Freido!

    Like 1
  15. JackT

    Which “Fernley”: California or Nevada?

    • Brad

      I missed it too – Nevada is tucked under the photo on the next line.

  16. Stevieg

    I too believe this was probably a hearse instead of an ambulance, but too much missing to say for sure either way. There are some hearse only parts & some ambulance lights. Sort of a mish-mash, but I highly doubt it was a combo.
    Either way, I am torn on it. I am all about preservation. With that thought in mind, if the frame was too far gone, then this is the best choice for preservation. Not knowing what the seller started with makes it difficult for me.
    With that being said, yes, I would ABSOLUTELY drive this! I would finish making (or remaking) a hearse out of it. People in my neighborhood might think I am nuttier than squirrel poop, but it would once again have the proper platform & rollers to haul “boxed meat”.
    Or maybe measure the cargo door. If my only living Harley would fit, make it a bike hauler. Leaving Wisconsin in December or January to head to Arizona is not usually an option when on 2 wheels, but sure nice to have a bike down there. My dream of keeping one here and having one down there was killed the night before last when some moron decided her text conversation was more important than the stop sign she was running. I went from 40 mph to zero in less than 5 seconds with the help of her suv acting as my speed bump.
    Please don’t text & drive, and always watch for motorcycles!

    Like 6
    • Kurt

      “…nuttier than squirrel poop…”, too funny!

      Like 3
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Hope you are OK Stevieg. Drivers of all kinds now seem to be focused on anything but the road. Happy Easter, Mike.

      Like 4
      • Stevieg

        I’m fine Leinie! A bit of road rash but no broken bones or concussion. It could have been worse! I wish you and yours a wonderful Easter too!

        Like 5
  17. Jonathan Q Higgins

    Want. This strokes my counterculture fetish. I would drive this. I’m anti sbc into everything but I know why people do it.

    Like 1
  18. Jim

    I would finish it out as a limo and start a business. Kids would dig it on Prom night and don’t forget weddings. When not in use as a limo it could be an airport shuttle.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Jim,
      That’s a great idea, and also a wonderful and easy way to lose plenty of money. Most states require a limo service that charges for their services, to be highly regulated and insured with a commercial policy.

      Until about 1991 I owned & operated the largest antique car & Rolls-Royce limo service in the Washington, D.C. area. There is no way I would ever consider running one again. The attached photo is of our postcard we sent to clients.

      State regulations and high commercial insurance costs are 2 major considerations. All states require seat belts for all occupants in a “for hire” vehicle. Ever tried to install seat belts in a car with a wooden body framework? We had a mechanical engineer write a report saying our cars were not designed for seat belts. State regulators said either we install belts, or stop renting the cars. That was one of the deciding factors in our decision to close.

      Weddings mean you end up working Saturdays and some Sunday afternoons. Proms are to be generally avoided, because of the excessive wear & tear from rowdy kids [in our experience, even the nice kids tend to get rowdy in a Prom limo ride!]. You can tell kids no alcohol allowed in the limo, but they will often sneak it in, or simply imbibe at a party before leaving in the limo. We had a $250 cleaning charge if someone puked in one of our vintage cars.

      Airport shuttles are highly competitive and very difficult to make a profit, as a lot of services run 18 passenger vans, and you simply cannot financially compete. 99% of airport shuttle riders don’t care what they are riding in as long as it’s safe, the HVAC works, and it’s ON TIME!

      One of the best ways to end up with half a Million Dollars in the bank after a couple of years running a vintage limo service, is to start with a Million Dollars!

      Like 3
      • Brad

        Depressing, but I have no reason to doubt anything you’ve said. Sorry you had to shut down. Driving classic cars for appreciative strangers on their special day seems, conceptually, like a really fun way to make a living.

        Like 2
  19. bobhess bobhess Member

    3 of us college students bought a ’48 Cadillac hearse in my 2nd year. To keep it blunt it was used exactly as most of the above comments suggest. Had a casket in it but that’s where the beer and ice was. Had a picture but the ’17 hurricane ate it.

    Like 4
  20. Tom Bell

    Sad. Just sad. Another great old vehicle in the crappper. Plenty of “professional car” enthusiasts probably would have brought it back, weather hearse or ambulance.

    Like 2
    • Kurt

      The ones I have never seen restored are the “flower cars” that followed the hearse; they look like an Addams family pickup truck.

      Like 2
  21. Bill McCoskey

    Have owned a 1940 Packard limousine, 1941 Henney-Packard hearse, and a 1942 Henney-Packard Ambulance.

    I’m also not exactly sure what this vehicle began life as, but I suspect it was a Henney-Packard “rear loading” hearse, with what Henney called the “Limousine” style using the large rear quarter windows. [If it had the 3-way loading capability, it would not have a division panel.]

    It was likely not an ambulance, as I’ve yet to see any pre-war Henney ambulances without at least 2 tunnel lights in the roof.

    While it could have been a Henney Combination Hearse/Ambulance, they typically had removable metal grillwork in those larger rear quarter windows, and if so, there would have been special holes in the window surround trim to hold the grills in place, and the holes are not there in this vehicle.

    So for those reasons, I suspect it stated life as a 1940 Henney-Packard 120 rear loading hearse.

    Like 4
  22. Steve Cota

    Whether you like or dislike the concept of this thing is up to you, However every time I see something built like this I ask the same question. “How much weight was a Mustang 2 front suspension designed to carry ? and just how much does this thing weigh ???

    Like 4
  23. Miguel

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why somebody would want to create so many problems with the suspension just to crush a few cats.

    Those bags aren’t going to be able to handle that much weight for any amount of time.

    We also need to talk about those small tires and how dangerous it is to drive something so heavy on such small tires.

    Like 3
  24. Ray

    Having received my “come-uppins” by restoring Packards 1937 – 1947 models) my experience and observation revealed the fact that the utility bodied cars however rare, never realize the ROI of an open car, club sedan or formal. This example has been elevated to its highest and best use, the spliced on components notwithstanding. It’s a $12 bargain for someone willing to spend more money on it. It’s not about the money, right?

  25. Roger

    The ebay ad has it listed as a hearse. But is it just me or are the photos deceptive as it sure looks like ut rides next to the pavement….low rider.

    Like 1
  26. Mike

    I thought nice ride Straight 8? V12? Lost me at 350…too generic, well over done.

    Like 2
  27. Bill McCoskey

    Brad,

    I used to drive a lot of the Rolls-Royce limo rentals, and with the D.C. area’s crowd, I met a lot of wonderful people, including names you would recognize right away: Stage & movie stars, Politicos, news people, wealthy business people, and for a decade after closing, I still had people tracking me down [not hard with my unusual last name], and ask me if I could please provide the same car for their 10th anniversary or their NEXT wedding!

    I was well-known to famous restaurant chefs who would often feed me from the kitchen as I waited for my guests dining in the restaurant! And I have fond memories of a famous stage star who ended up inviting me to spend a week alone with her on her ex-husband’s yacht in the Bahamas [I went!]. Also had a guest who paid for a week at his $10 million estate in Barbados, for helping him with problems on his Ferrari.

    I would have never closed the company if there was any way I could have made it profitable. But with my most expensive monthly expense being commercial limo insurance [with no claims ever], it was simply not possible to stay open. The insurance company made more money than I did!

    Like 2
    • Brad

      Well sir, all I can tell you is that if you’d still like those Rolls-Royces to make you a millionaire, it can certainly be done. Your brief post indicates there’s plenty of material for a phenomenal memoir (along the lines of Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential). It sounds exciting, funny, bittersweet and with just enough gossip to make for effective marketing excerpts. Find yourself a ghost writer… and get on it!

      I’m in children’s publishing, but if you’d like a few leads I’d love to try and help. Give me a call sometime if you’re interested. Eight forty-seven, four twenty-one, twelve ninety-three. ;)

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Brad,

        Those who have known me for decades all say exactly what you have suggested, and perhaps when I’m no longer so busy with the renovation of a 1890s building, and running an eBay store, I’ll hunker down and do it. Thanks for the offer, and I will try to call you after the weekend just to talk a little bit.

        Now a little secret for everyone; the key to running a Rolls-Royce or vintage limo service requires you to also own a fully equipped automotive garage to maintain the cars, as paying another shop to do so is too expensive. I had such a place, and could keep my maintenance costs to half of what it would have cost otherwise.

        Like 3
      • Brad

        “The key to running a Rolls-Royce or vintage limo service requires you to also own a fully equipped automotive garage to maintain the cars…”

        There’s your hook, in my opinion: “Rolls for Rent” (working title) would jump from scenes with glitzy and powerful clients… to prom-bound teens who can’t hold their liquor… and the daily grind of wrenching on old cars. It appeals equally to those who love pot-boilers — and the ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence’ crowd for it’s blue collar anecdotes of keeping machines with obscure parts in service, despite tight deadlines. Really fun. Talk soon – no rush.

        Like 1
  28. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Nevermind the car…. This has been an entertaining read!

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