Daytona Speedway: 1962 Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance

The roots of the Superior Coach Company date back to 1909. They’re well known for converting luxury vehicles into limousines, hearses, ambulances, and other specialty vehicles. This includes numerous Pontiac Bonneville’s of which at least one was in service to the Daytona International Speedway. Retired for more than 30 years, this old ambulance has seen better days and would make a cool restoration, depending on what the end game was. Located in Brandon, Florida, this piece of speedway memorabilia is available here on eBay for $14,500 (Buy It Now). Another interesting find brought to you by T.J.!

As the story goes, this ambulance was owned by the Daytona Speedway in the 1970s and 1980s. We don’t know what it did before or after that time. It was used to transport injured drivers (and other track personnel) from the infield care center to a nearby hospital. In those days, the tunnel entrances and exits at the speedway weren’t as tall as they are today, and this ambulance worked well in those circumstances because of its lower height.

The odometer reading is 35,000 miles and it could be original given that the vehicle usually only traveled short distances and possibly just a few times a year. Under the hood resides what should be a 389 cubic inch V8 that the seller says turns over freely and may run with some further coaxing. The rest of the vehicle’s mechanical condition is unknown. Oddly, this ambulance wasn’t fitted with factory air conditioning given the hot and humid temperatures in Florida.

Even though we’re told the Pontiac has been inside for the past 25 years, the body and paint and pretty rough. Some repair work appears to have already been attempted on the hood and the front bumper is inside the passenger compartment. The roof lights have also been removed and they are in there as well. That area of the vehicle is going to need a complete makeover, too.

Once restored, this could make a nice addition to a NASCAR museum or collection. As opposed to another Ghostbusters tribute or a Halloween “ghoul mobile.” Who knows what on-track personalities may have had the misfortune of taking a ride in this thing some 40 years ago. If you come to fetch it with a trailer, be sure it’s a heavy-duty hauler as this thing weighs more than 5,000 lbs. As an interesting side note, we’re told that the place on the cowl tag where the paint color would be coded reads PRIME, indicating it left the factory in primer on its way to Superior Coach.

Comments

  1. Abe Bush

    Superior was one of the “big 4” of the coach builders back in 1962 when this unit was manufactured. Eureka Coach went out of business in 1964, leaving only Superior, Miller-Meteor, and S&S, whose parent company was Hess & Eisenhardt. Superior built on both Cadillac, and Pontiac chassis. They bought special commercial chassis directly from Cadillac, and built the vehicles themselves from the cowl back. On their Pontiacs, they bought unfinished Bonnevilles, which were shipped to the Superior plant, and from there they literally split the vehicle in two, stretched it much the same as limo companies do today, and built the entire body themselves and mounted it on the professionally lengthened chassis, and then painted it and readied it for the new customer. Ambulances weren’t equipped with air conditioning back then nearly as often as you would think, it was an extra cost option back then and definitely not standard equipment. Likely this ambulance was originally owned by a Northern agency originally with a cooler climate (most likely a funeral home, as funeral homes were almost always the local ambulance service back in those days), and bought years later by the Daytona race track very cheaply. Nearly 100% of all ambulances were ran hard and put away wet, they were nothing more than work horses, much the same as they are today. They tended to have the proper maintenance done on them however, as an out of service unit cost the company a lot of money. The rest of the time they just sat, waiting for the next call. So most of these old ambulances have very few miles on the odometer, but have been used very hard. And since these were ran on passenger car based vehicles, using passenger car components (with heavy duty alternators, brakes, and other components), they were used very roughly and were known to blow engines and ruin transmissions early and often times didn’t last very long. The ones that didn’t have to get retired early due to over use and abuse were often times wrecked in accidents since ambulances ran a high risk of getting into accidents due to always “running hot” to calls and hospitals etc, oftentimes on wet and snow covered streets while responding to vehicle accidents. My only hope is that someone doesn’t plan to turn this poor rare car into yet another ghostbuster wannabe.

  2. 19sixty5 Member

    Cool and unique, but a ton of work!

  3. Cam W.

    I was involved in the “picture vehicle” business for about 20 years, and specialized somewhat in providing ambulances, with period equipment , and uniforms. I also arranged for actual off-duty paramedics to staff them as “Special Skills Extras”. A few of the medics were old enough to have driven the last of the Pontiacs and Cadillacs in service. Due to the fact that most films were set in present-day, most of my fleet (about 30 ambulances) were current, with a few of each generation, going back to 1970. I only ever had one “professional car,” ambulance; a 1970 Cadillac Miller Meteor.I restored it, at some expense, but it was rarely used for film, and eventually sold to a collector. While it did not produce the income of the current units, it was the most fun to drive.
    There is an excellent organization called the Professional Car Society dedicated to documenting and celebrating the history and technical details of these type of cars. There is in fact an extensive thread on their website about ambulances used at Daytona speedway, with pics and comments from people that were there when they were in use. There are specific references to this unit.
    I hope that a PCS member buys and restores this Pontiac. As with many collector cars, the story behind it, and documented history make it quite special. The listing photos also show some of the rare parts, such as the rocket-shaped emergency lamp housings, and siren are still with the vehicle.

    Like 11
  4. Glenn Schwass Member

    Interesting. I hope it gets saved…More than I could ever take on.

    Like 2
  5. Gary

    It would be a great project if the owner gets real with the price. It ain’t gonna bring GTO pricing imo.

    Like 4
    • BlackTa

      If you could find someone who would truly bring it back to life, just give it to them, there’s little monetary value as it currently sits. Just my opinion of course.

      Like 4
  6. Martinsane

    Love the car, scared of the project as it certainly would be a monstrous undertaking and just plain dumbfounded by the asking price, which is 200 times beyond reality and just laughable.

    Like 2
  7. Glenn Hilpert

    He is asking an arm and a leg because of the Daytona speedway status and that is it.

    Like 1
  8. Greg

    It would be a good project but not at 14,500.00

    Like 1
  9. pwtiger

    Seems to me there was one of these used after JFK was gunned down

    • Glenn Hilpert

      That was a 63 year model.

      Like 3
    • Abe Bush

      The ambulance that JFK’s casket was put into was indeed a Superior Pontiac, however that was a military spec hightop ambulance. This rig is a “lowtop”, and most likely a “combination”, which basically means the vehicle’s original configuration allows it to be used either as a hearse, or an ambulance. Where the rear seats can be folded down flat, and the floor flipped exposing casket rollers. And combination cars also had demountable roof beacons, and usually an under hood/behind the grill siren that wasn’t viewable for when the car was being used as a hearse. Often times these cars were turned into straight ambulances after they served their front-line hearse duties, and permanent roof lights and/or sirens were often times mounted on the roof to make it look more like an ambulance, as these cars often times looked too “hearse like” when being used as an ambulance. Back in the 60s, the U.S. military bought almost all their ambulances from Superior Coach, so they could obtain the much cheaper Pontiacs vs. the more expensive Cadillacs, and they always had special military specs, making the cars much more spartan but cheap.

      Like 1
  10. Mountainwoodie

    Did they legalize dope in Florida? People have lost their minds when it comes to vehicle values . There’s no shame. It’s like fishing and hoping the stupidest fish comes along. This is a hundred thousand dollar restoration possibly”….. and with the mold and humidity damage from the swamp that is Florida……… not much will be reusable. All that said if someone pays more than 1500 bucks I hope they’ll come on BF and explain it to us.

    Like 5
    • Abe Bush

      This car is indeed severely over-priced. He’ll never get close to what he’s asking, unless of course someone falls for the “This vehicle is worth much more than a regular Pontiac of the same vintage because these cars were much more rare” gimmick which is common with a lot of professional cars being offered up for sale. This car will likely bring more along the lines of $1500 if that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this car ends up never selling, and just keeps popping back up for sale periodically until it finally sells. Often times these old professional cars are snatched up for $500 or so, with someone hoping to turn it into a “limo”, “custom SUV” and the like, adding home made rows of seats and custom stereo equipment, etc.

      Like 1
  11. StanD

    Turn it into a Hearse so all us old car guys can for a last ride in style

  12. Abe Bush

    It’s already a combination car, meaning it can function as either a hearse, or an ambulance.

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