Body Or Bike Hauler? 1969 Chevrolet Suburban

Sometimes the setting in a used vehicle listing catches a person’s eye almost as much as the vehicle itself does, this is one of those times for me. This former Washington state fire department ambulance is a 1969 Chevrolet Suburban C10. It’s now located in equally beautiful Eureka, Montana and is listed on Hemmings. The seller wants $5,000 for it and that’s a firm price. This one will most likely never take humans to hospitals anymore but I can think of a use or two for it.

This is a pretty slick looking rig. According to the seller, it was bought “new and put into service by the Skykomish Washington fire department. Then it went to Rosalia Washington.” They say that the 55,000 miles are original as far as they can tell from its history. “When it was retired from the fire department, it was parked and garaged mostly.”

The “body has minor rust in the rockers. The floors are nicer than most 1967-1972 gm trucks. They are solid and usable. I’ll double check but I don’t believe they have any rust, except maybe a little where they meet the inner rocker.”  The black paint on the bottom is always a nice move to make ongoing rust repairs over the years blend in. Chevy’s C10 Suburban is a half-ton rear-wheel drive, so no 4WD on this rig. That will hold the price down a bit.

As will the fact that the front “heater switch needs repaired. Heater core is bypassed so it most likely leaked.” Heater core issues; not fun. This vehicle needs heat in the cab so figure in the cost of troubleshooting that heater core. The rear heater fan works, which is nice, but without a heater core, your patients are going to get cold. You can see that everything will need work on this rig inside and out, but it would sure be an interesting vehicle for car shows.

I would use this Suburban for a motorcycle/minibike/scooter hauler, but that’s just me. With that raised roof it would be great for that. There must be ambulance collectors out there who would like something like this.

There is no mention of the engine size but the seller says that it “runs fine. Doesn’t smoke. Rebuilt heads, aluminum intake, headers, RV cam. The transmission is a Powerglide. It works fine but leaks a little when sitting. Brakes work fine.” It “runs cool. No overheating or head gasket issues. Clean oil. Power steering and brakes. No a/c.” Is there a use for this cool looking Suburban ambulance other than being an ambulance? What would you use it for?


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  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Well, like Clementine, the ad seems to have gone forever…

  2. Sir_Burban Member

    Well darn it, needed this rig as a parts truck for my 1972 K20 Ambulance.

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like this one. If it came my way, I’d de-ambulance it and just run it as a Surburban and have fun with it that way. I always liked this vintage and it would run forever. Heater cores aren’t very nice to replace in these but it can be done. I might add that they’re a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about A-C.

  4. Tyler

    I’ve replaced a bunch of heater cores on these trucks. The easiest way is to go ahead & pull the inner fender. With that out of the way, all the nuts & bolts are easily accessible. The biggest worry is the j-nuts on the fenders breaking from rust, & the bolt just spinning. Then you have to grind off the bolt head. That’s still easier than trying to replace the heater core with the inner fender in place. In this case, it would be a great time to install a Vintage Air kit.

    The bigger pain is going to be dropping the fuel tank to replace the sending unit. By where the gas gauge is showing, it’s gonna need it.

    Municipal vehicles like this tend to be well maintained. This one looks to be pretty nice. I think someone got a good deal on this Burb.

  5. Miguel

    It looks like the heater core is hooked up, at least the hose is.

    The idea of a motorcycle hauler, I don’t know.

    Even though the roof is higher, the rear doors are not.

    I would restore it to it’s original glory and join the good people at the PCS meets.

    Also it is hard to believe original mileage on an ambulance which was designed to be driven at high speeds whenever on a call.

    • Tyler

      There is a short red hose from the water pump to the intake, instead of going to the heater core.

      • Miguel

        I see that now, thanks. I just saw the hose coming off the firewall and I don’t see where it goes.

  6. Bob

    Would want to restore it. For many of us, these type of vehicles have a lot of history.

  7. AndyinMA

    That linoleum floor was also in my parents’ kitchen

  8. Chuck

    It clearly does not have headers.

  9. Fred w.

    If I’m correct, the rear heater is separate from the front and will work even with the front core unhooked.

    • The jErK

      Correct! I’m doing this now to my 72 C20 Sentinel Ambulance. Simply use the rear heater and leave the front water valve in the off position! This one was built by WAYNE of Blytheville Arkansas and appears to have a low number of added accessories! Actually named the ‘budget sentry’! Love and use mine very often, now at 80K miles!

  10. Vegaman_Dan

    Originally white, then painted orange for some reason. It’s not the color of rigs used by the Skykomish Fire Department- they were always red. Not to say other agencies in the area could have used it, but I seriously doubt it was Skykomish.

  11. Danton J A Cardoso

    What’s up with the red steering wheel and column?

    • jw454

      This truck was built with red interior trim. That’s why the column/wheel is red.

  12. ROARRR

    These are GOOD users, I have a couple, they seem to get reasonable mileage and will carry anything, they had three seats if you wanted, if the rear heater doesn’t leak, the front could be bypassed and the rear used.

  13. Classic Steel

    It’s one for the zombie apocalypse 🤣

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    My old man had 2 of these to pull our campers in the late 60’s. 1st one, a ’67, was an old Milwaukee police ambulance, just like this, only no lights on top like that. Before paramedics, the police would transport you to the hospital in these ( after a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts) survival was iffy, at best. The 3 door was really handy, but it was tired, and he bought a newer, fancier, non-ambulance one, that was much nicer. It was billed as the biggest station wagon you could buy. It was a great truck, pulled the camper for years.
    Oh, btw, the gas gauge doesn’t work. Seen that before( needle way past full) Pretty important, as I remember we stopped a LOT for gas but at two-bits a gallon, fuel was not an issue. I think the 1st one did have an extra heater but the roof fan was just an exhaust fan, for obvious reasons.

  15. Doug

    I’ve got a “68 K10 – 4speed granny box, ’78 front axle with power steering &
    power disc brakes, and a ’78 back seat that folds toe replace the stock “school bus ” rear seat. I had a carpenter build me what he calls a ” carpet kit” like the ones he built for camper shells – boxes along the sides over the inner rear fenders that have opening lids, and a plywood platform that rides between them, creating a carpeted sleeping platform with storage below. makes a great camping vehicle. There’s a rod that will span the opened rear doors to hold them straight back, and it doubles as a curtain rod ; on the canoe rack is a hook for the solar shower. With the rear seat folded up against the back of the front seat, there is 9 feet of sleeping platform between the seat and the rear doors.
    Also installed an RV opening ” skylight” vent with fan, and insulation between the roof and the paneling used as a headliner. Vinyl fabric panels with sewn in magnets cover the windows when wanted for privacy. Things like the heater controls can be found at LMC Truck and Brothers, etc.

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