Big & Odd: 1968 Cadillac Park Row Ambulance

1968 Cadillac Park Row Ambulance

When it comes to wagons, the bigger and odder, the better in my book. Few wagons are as unique or as large as this 1968 Cadillac S&S Park Row Ambulance. A Cadillac seems like a strange choice for an ambulance, giving their luxurious nature, but I can see where a smooth ride would be important for an emergency medical vehicle. This one has been gone over already and is in fantastic condition. It even comes with all the correct vintage medical equipment and radios! If you are like me and love oddball wagons, be sure to check it out here on eBay in Saint James, Missouri.

Cadillac S&S Ambulance

One of the main reasons this ambulance is based on a Cadillac has little to do with the smooth ride, although I’m sure it helped, but has more to do with the fact that Cadillacs were popular as hearses. Today we tend to use trucks for ambulances rather than cars, but before smooth riding SUVs and trucks, hearses were the best option. They were already designed to haul a body lying down, with plenty of space to carry extra equipment and people so it was a simple task to convert one into an ambulance. The Sayers & Scovill Company was one of the major coach-builders crafting hearses out of Cadillacs, but from my research it would seem S&S didn’t build many of these ambulances.

Cadillac Park Row Ambulance

This wagon probably isn’t for everyone, but if you appreciate truly odd automobiles it’s worth a look! You probably wouldn’t see me daily driving this one, but I would have a blast taking it to local events and parades. It definitely isn’t something you see often and luckily it doesn’t have the same vibe as a hearse. Special thanks goes to Jim S for this Wagon Wednesday Tip!

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Comments

  1. DonM

    There was a time when pretty much all ambulances were based on Caddilac.

  2. Brian

    Regarding the info on hearses, it true! In fact, the first ambulances WERE just hearses, barrowed from the local funeral homes when not in services for there intended funeral duties, and typically staffed by local volunteer firemen who had some basic first aid training! These were early, and rather dark days, for first responder medical treatment. If you were unfortunate enough to be in an accident with serious injuries that required you to be transported in a hearse/ambulance (if the locality even offered such a service as it was fairly rare), your trip to the hospital would be about making you comfortable on your way there. If your conditioned worsened on the trip, you were just out of luck. The best they could do for you was try to drive faster. We all love to reflect that life was easier and better 50 or 60 years ago, but when it comes to medical care, your better off living today!

    This is an interesting vehicle, that’s for sure! It would be fun to see one labeled up in local municipality colors, just like one would have been back in the day. I’ll pass on owning one though, just a bit too morbid for me!

    • Tim Rosin

      Hi,
      Our company has 3 old vintage ambulances/hearse for sale. We are looking at finding out the value of them. We would like to sell them and have no idea where to start. One is a 1970 Pontiac, another is a 1971 Cadillac Miller-Meteor and the last one is a 1968 Cadillac.

      All are in good condition (I would be happy to provide pictures). 2 of them run and have been restored.

      My contact info is: Tim Rosin, LifeQuest Services, 920-787-2291.

      If anyone can help……we would appreciate it!

      • Tom Kupferer

        Do you still have ambulances for sale?

  3. George

    It looks like it is ready for a movie or TV shoot.

    It’s actually cool! Kind of creepy, but definitely interesting!

  4. paul

    I have a friend who back in the late 60’s early 70’s had a 56 Caddy ambulance & he used it to move his blues band around to the gigs, it was great & everybody knew the car, a bit thirsty though.

  5. fred

    I once lived in a small town in FL that was built around a circular lake. In the 50’s the tiny hospital was on the lake. One day the miltary, at a nearby air force base during training excercises, accidentally dropped a bomb on a farm house, mortally wounding a man. Story is the funeral home picked him up in an “ambulance”, then drove in circles around the lake until he expired, thereby making a trip to the hospital unnecessary and a trip to the funeral home mandatory.
    A few funeral vehicles were actually designed for double duty- casket rollers and life saving equipment in the same vehicle. Only ones I’ve seen that were not Cadillac were Pontiac.

    • Mike Ricks

      I worked at a funeral home in Okla. City in ’73 that had a 71 Olds combination coach that was utilized for both ambulance/ funeral duties;

      • Skip

        Mike: That reminds me of my funeral home days in the ’60s. If you were active on an ambulance in ’73, you should’ve known Steve Loftin who was also active there during that time.

  6. Don Andreina

    A 68 caddy wagon. Quite possibly the ultimate wagon. With all due respect to those who preserve Professional cars, I would customise this into a family wagon with genuine mahogany veneer woody appliqué. This is hot hot hot, but a little icky with that old ambo gear. Very nice find.

  7. Tom S.

    My first ambulance ride, back in the 70s, was in a big ‘ol Cadillac. All of the rides since then have been in van-types. I loved racing my motorcycle. :)

  8. Phil B

    If you can remember back to that time you might remember that Drs. Made house calls. Every one I remember drove a caddy sedan. As a senseless 7 year old asked our Dr. why that as so. His response was “reliability”. That could have played a role in ambulance choice along with hearse creation

  9. Charles

    I remember the days when hearses doubled as ambulances. Our county was upscale and bought a three door Chevy Suburban in the late 60’s, slowly retiring the Caddy’s, and maybe a Pontiac or two. Being a nurse and knowing what is onboard an ambulance these days gives real meaning to the term Scoop and Ship.

    My best friend who was about three years older than I bought a 59 Caddy hearse. That was around 1970 or 71. It was solid black of course, and he got it cheap because it was old and rusty. It ran decent. We made money during summer break by painting apartments at the beach. That old hearse made a great vehicle to haul paint, supplies, and ladders. On the days we were not working, we unloaded the paint buckets and hauled our surf boards. And of course hauling surf boards, meant hauling girls to the beach, or at least that was the plan.

  10. Chris A.

    What’s with the “Jones” in the back hatch window? Hearses often had the name of the funeral home in the side and back windows like the “Jones” sign. Sort of a mixed message with this one unless it actually is a hearse turned into an ambulance. Nothing like a Caddy for a smooth quiet expressway ride.

  11. Jason

    Who ya gonna call?

  12. ConservativesDefeated

    As a kid I only remember seeing Cadilacs as ambulances. Though by the late sixties Suburbans were creepng in.

    Beautiful rig

  13. ConservativesDefeated

    “Cadillacs”

  14. Chris N

    The 68 Caddy is my favorite professional car. I almost bought a white 68 MM (Miller-Meteor) Hearse a few years ago. I really wanted it badly! They only wanted $2000 for it and it was in extremely good shape, just a couple of small rust pin holes and a whopping 32K miles. All of the back rollers worked, was about 98% complete, ran great, everything worked and it was a back AND side loader. Belonged to a small funeral home in Oklahoma for >20 years. The beast would light up the tires with little effort.

    During the test drive I took it with a friend of mine to the local auto insurance agency, where is mother worked, pulled it to the side of the building and opened the back door. We went in to ask about insuring it, she asked “What kind of car?” “Cadillac, come on out and have a look. ” She walked out, saw it and said; “oh no. No NO NO!!” The owner of the insurance office saw it, and said laughingly “Good lord! Get that thing out of here!”

    The thing that made it funny is that the insurance company was on the main drag in town, it was backed in, WITH the back door open. Imagine what the locals thought seeing that! LOL!!

  15. Rusty Davidson

    I own a 51 Ford F3 Marmon-Herrington, Belgium Army ambulance, based on the “Ranger” shape, 4wd, straight 6, being restored now. only 5 left in the world, Ive been told.?

    • Jesse Staff

      Sounds cool Rusty. Why don’t you send in a photo?

  16. MuscleCarGal

    Just bought it today…should be in Texas by miss next week!

    • Josh Staff

      That’s awesome! Please keep us updated and be sure to send in more photos!

      • MuscleCarGal

        Once the vehicle arrives down here, We will go through it, make any repairs necessary (which it seems to be in great shape, so not much will be needed). Then I will get my own pics and post on professional car society forum..We have had a 55 caddy superior that was restored, but it needed lots of cosmetics, some mechanical and some TLC, a 60 buick in great shape, needed some mechanical fine tuning and currently are in process of restoring 61 pontiac air force ambulance (definitely was looking like a diamond in the rough when found) as well as an equally neglected 59 cadillac superior (I think). The Buick came equipped with vintage equipment as well as this 68 we are getting…goal is to find about 7 more..

  17. Jesse Staff

    Bid to $12,600, but did not meet reserve.

  18. HelenAnn

    I have one sitting in my shed (for 18 years) The people I got it from had it painted maroon so it looks like a hearse. I loved driving it when it was the cabin car.

  19. Skip

    The Cadillacs were classic ambulances for sure. My standby service had two in the 22 years of our operation. One was a 1972 Superior high top ambulance, the other was 1968 Superior Cadillac combination. But for a number of years our go-to ambulances were the short-wheel-based Pontiac Consorts, Buick Nationals and Buick Flxettes and the Cotner/Bevington Sevilles. These were smaller only in length but had plenty of room to work with a patient and they were more economical than the bigger coaches. The one exception to that was our high top Cadillac. It had the 500 ci engine but actually got decent gas mileage. When we started getting pushed out of the coach-types we went to Suburbans, which I really liked. Our “workhorse” was a 1971 Chevy Suburban that was built by the Gordon K. Allen Co. in Dallas. Not only was GKA the Superior Coach dealer for most of the Southwest, but they built their own line of ambulances, originally on station wagons, and eventually into low top and then high top Suburbans. They were the parent co. of the short-lived Modular Ambulance Corp.: the first builder of the box-type truck based ambulances, some of which were featured on Emergency! in the ’70s. Back to the big Caddies: our ’72 had a huge (I think 150 amp) alternator. It easily powered the big mechanical Q siren and the host of warning lights all over that rig.

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