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M*A*S*H Anyone? 1953 Dodge Ambulance

I was glad to hear the sounds of the Altman/Mandel M*A*S*H TV show theme going through my head as soon as I saw the pictures of this 1953 Dodge ambulance as I’ve had “White Christmas” stuck there for two days now (obscure but totally amazing story about the origin of the M*A*S*H theme and how it eventually made a 14-year-old into a millionaire here). As anyone who has ever seen the show knows, the US Army used many of these heavy duty trucks to transport injured soldiers during the Korean War. This particular one is being sold here on eBay with a pile of spare parts. Bidding is starting at only $2,900 with no reserve, or you can buy it now for $5,000. In case you are a gambler, the truck is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks to reader Peter R. for putting this tune in my head!

The seller writes in the ad that both they and the previous owner had dreams of restomodding this truck into a more modern off-road, camp, and bug-out vehicle. He planned to install a diesel drive train, replacing the crate Chevrolet V8 that is in there now. That’s right, someone already replaced the original engine, and it’s long gone.

Apparently this was the scene after the seller emptied the spare parts out of the back of the ambulance–it’s not an explosion! There’s a lot of very usable room in the rear of the vehicle. The previous owner had kept it for 25 years and accumulated parts from at least two different trucks to aid in the refurbishment. It was also kept inside during that time, although it’s been outside for the past three years.

Here’s a closer look at the stack of parts. In addition, there are six spare wheels and a complete front end included.

When one thinks about the trauma, stress and pain that went on in this area, it’s somewhat sobering.

Supposedly this is a nearly-new crate small block Chevrolet engine attached to a four speed of indeterminate origin. The seller didn’t pursue starting it because they were interested in converting the truck to diesel. Also, the attachment of the drive train was never completed, so you’ll have some work to do here no matter what. The truck looks remarkably free of rust and very solid, so I would think you could either continue along the restomod path or try to find an original engine and transmission.

 

Comments

  1. Classix Steel

    Does it come with any spare body parts that are not metal?

    Could be a nice toy hauler !

  2. Michael

    This is not about the Dodge ambulance but I did like watching M.A.S.H. This is about the White Christmas song reference. I’ve got four words for you.
    “Alvin and The Chipmunks”
    I was born in 1975 and I don’t know how old I was when she started doing it but my stepmother loved playing all the Christmas songs. No unwrapping before the music and no music until everyone was ready. That didn’t really apply to my dad. He was actually there but usually semi buzzed from the eggnog. I think it might of been a coping mechanism having to put up with that music all day. It wasn’t as bad for us since most of our presents required being outside.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Great story, Michael!

  3. Michael

    This is not about the Dodge ambulance but I did like watching M.A.S.H. This is about the White Christmas song reference. I’ve got four words for you.
    “Alvin and The Chipmunks”
    I was born in 1975 and I don’t know how old I was when she started doing it but my stepmother loved playing all the Chipmunk Christmas songs. No unwrapping before the music and no music until everyone was ready. That didn’t really apply to my dad. He was actually there but usually semi buzzed from the eggnog. I think it might of been a coping mechanism having to put up with that music all day. It wasn’t as bad for us since most of our presents required being outside.

  4. Mike

    The bolt upright windshield just ruins the look on these.

  5. fahrvergnugen

    And that pile of parts was mailed home to Ottumwa,IA one piece at a time.

  6. Big Mike

    Cool Truck it would be neat to restore it and take to Militarily vehicles shows.

  7. Madmatt

    I would love to pull up outside Tony Packo’s
    with this!Hey “Klinger” we’ve got more hungry
    people out here!Make it a M.a.s.h. food truck!
    Mobile…appetite…so…hungry…..?…yeah it’s lunchtime..LOL

  8. Joe M

    This is cool a truck that brings back memories. As a kid walking home from school, there was a guy that had alot of 50’s surplus military vehicle parked in his front yard. Trucks similar to this, you couldn’t even see his house back there. I wonder if any of the stuff he had was saved.

  9. PeterK

    A friend of mine in SO. Ohio had one similar to this back in the early 80’s . It was awesome in snow and mud. One of these in diesel or a 50’s power wagon are still on my bucket list. That Mercedes 1977 Euro 450 SEL 6.9 in my garage needs a new home first.

  10. JW

    Would make for a nice tow rig for the 70 Mach1 at out of state car shows. Yes go diesel.

  11. Brian Cody

    When I was a kid my buddy’s older brother and friends had the RFD. Roxbury Fire Dept. one of these. A couple rides in the back had me hooked. If only I had the time and money. And they say you can’t ever go back. Merry Christmas everyone.

  12. ROTAG999

    We had a few of these (4 to 5) in our Army motorpool near Kaiserslaturen Germany in 1971 they all ran but nobody wanted to drive them. I hated them door when closed encroaches driver compartment. Lousy brakes and top speed of around 45 to 50 mph a new driver adopted one and made local town runs. We had a run to Frankfurt everyday that was about 75 miles one way most drivers would take a jeep or an 70 AMC sedan not the old Dodge’s.

  13. Steve

    I have an old chevy van that gets odd looks when I go camping but that would definitely would be a looker here in wv

  14. Pete

    If this thing had it’s original drive train it would be something to own. You could dress up like Trapper John, Radar or Hawkeye and bring a girl to dress like Hot Lips and play the M.A.S.H. theme at car shows or Veterans day parades. That would be a Hoot for everybody. Maybe even act out a few scenes from some select episodes. LOL.

    I have actually seen a couple of these restored at Military shows right along with a few command cars and radio trucks. One benefit to having this is that it is air tight compared to a canvas top vehicle which can get cold as hell if you want to drive it around in cold weather. Also all those canvas tops did was keep the rain and sun off your head if it didn’t leak. Heating one was difficult. If I bought this I would have to find another with a good drive train and poor body and switch it all out. Sell off the chevy motor and tranny and hope I got enough back to warrant the expense of an additional truck purchase. I think it is solid enough that it would be worth saving. Buy a few stretchers and some gas cans a couple of sets of scrubs and your in business.

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The sale price of $3560 sounds good to me.

  16. El Chinero

    Robert Altman directed the film … not any such-named TV series

  17. EHide Behind

    Actually drove a few of this type vehicles, stars on doors, some funky numbers on bumpers, and on dash,”Max speed 45 M P H.
    THEY would go faster but could hardly keep on 2 lane roads at Ft. Bragg N.C.
    Canvas tops, bench on each side, and was glad to be ranked and driver as riding, back there chutes and combat bags on way to cjoppers was a form of combat conditioning.
    Tough as he’ll our units had been in Korea airborne unit so was kinda like an icon.
    Paint was globbed on over original 50 times.
    These required all wheel Bearing new or repacking and seals every tjree months.
    Too bad original engine with its ultra low compression is gone, along with power takeoff for winch.
    Old Timer ham enthusiast has one of them and whole insides crammed full of old Military MARS radio system, that hopefully some military museum will end up with.
    This rig is a money pit as complete running fully restored ones are under 20K $ U S D.

  18. EHide Behind

    TOO slow on edit. As part of unit training we were shown could run on lowest grades of fuel kerosene, tree alcohol or diesel – gas mixtures worked.
    Originals would indeed make a SHTF bug out rig.

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