Original Ambulance: 1959 Ford Courier Wagon

Today’s fire and rescue vehicles are so incredibly bland compared to what used to be available direct from the manufacturer. Now, I suppose that sentiment will change over time, especially as the modern-day Ford Explorer becomes a classic and there’s someone thirty years my junior who will be all too excited to get his hands on an Ecoboost-equipped Explorer that belonged to a local fire department. Anyway, this is much better, as it’s a highly original 1959 Ford Courier ambulance ordered new by the City of LeFors Fire Department in LeFors, Texas. It’s presently listed here on eBay with bidding at $7,100 and the reserve unmet.

The ambulance conversions were handled by a variety of different aftermarket vendors, and those of you that follow the ambulance/hearse/flower car market can likely rattle off with ease which company had their hands in creating different models. I’d love to know the history of this ambulance conversion as it grew older and more outdated, as it’s clear no one caretaker ever felt it necessary to strip it down and return it to civilian use. It remains incredibly original, from the etched glass to the extra communications antennas to the emergency response equipment inside, not to mention the must-have wailer on the roof.

The seller notes that the Courier was ordered with very few options aside from the equipment for its duty as an ambulance, with the build sheet indicating it was merely outfitted with a heater, windshield wiper, window washer, and a 292 V8 engine. Of course, the wagon featured two bucket seats up front and a unique solitary rear jump seat for a nurse or EMT to ride in and take care of the patient while en route to the hospital. The stretcher also resides next to the jump seat, and this does not look like a recreation – it all looks like the original equipment that would have been used in 1959.

The Courier looks nice and straight from every angle, though the seller does report nominal rust in the lower rockers. Being a Texas car all of its life, it’s survived largely intact, but the listing does claim it was repainted with new lettering applied at some point in the past. Recent maintenance in the last three months includes new brakes, a fresh carburetor rebuild, replacement fuel system components, and more, and all of the emergency lights were tested and confirmed working. The 292 runs excellent with no smoke or noise, and the 3-speed transmission is said to shift smoothly. The seller says he feels confident you could hop in and drive in anywhere, likely drawing a crowd wherever you go.

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  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    This being a longroof, I solidly like. May LeFors be with you!

    Like 13
  2. Fred W

    Couple of things not mentioned in the writeup: Seller says car was clearcoated over original paint, which to me is preferable to a repaint. Also, mileage is listed at 59K, which is completely believable on fire dept. equipment. I don’t know where you would find a cooler 2 door 50’s wagon than here for anywhere near current bid…but some people have a phobia of ambulances, etc.

    Like 11
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Interesting car that I would convert back to a factory original interior or maybe a custom interior. Those front seats look uncomfortable and low-rent; a proper bench seat would be my choice. The interior does look pretty Spartan, some nicer door panels would do wonders there. Ditch the roof lights and siren and sell them on eBay and try to find replacement glass for the etched ones. Otherwise, this wagon looks pretty good and would be a nice wagon to cruise in. I’m sure some may want to keep it as-is and keep it period correct but I’m sure many would want it as a regular wagon.

    Like 6
  4. Bob C.

    Unless you would want to use this as, say a camper? I agree with FordGuy1972 on converting it back to factory original interior (or custom ). It’s good nobody butchered it by making it a hot rod or something crazy, but I think this should be enjoyed as a nice cruiser.

    Like 8
  5. geezerglide85

    This most likely is the original interior, as this is a Courier (aka sedan delivery but with glass instead of metal side panels). Meant for deliveries, so no back seat and the passenger seat may have also been an option. I don’t think you could find a nicer one preserved as this one is, truely a time capsule.

    Like 7
  6. nlpnt

    Very much a basic “scoop and run” ambulance. It would be the equivalent of putting a stretcher in the back of a RAV4 or CR-V today – no need for a special conversion with the split-folding back seat as factory equipment an industry standard.

    Of course ambulances went in the other direction, to being fully-equipped emergency rooms on the wheels of 450(0)-650(0) series truck chassis.

    Like 3
  7. junkman Member

    1959 full size 2 door wagon. Not much else to say except, wish I never sold mine for $600 in 1979. Man, the one that I should have kept.

    Like 5
  8. David Zornig

    There would be no “converting it back”, because it is exactly as it came and was intended option wise from the factory, with the proper provenance.
    The value and character in this vehicle is that it was ordered as an ambulance and has remained that for 62 years.
    What you want is a 2 door Ranch Wagon on which this is based.

    Like 9
  9. Will Fox

    Courier wagons in general are few & far between.`59 was the second to the last year for these, and this is about as solid as you will ever find. I myself would restore it where needed cosmetically/mechanically–and repaint the hood lettering showing the firehouse title. (The buckets up front are what set the Couriers apart from the 2dr. Ranch Wagons. Both Couriers and Ranch wagons had glass quarters in `59 rather than steel) Then I would join the Professional Car Society club, of which this model would surely draw a crowd at shows.

    Like 9
  10. Howard A Member

    Oh, think of the horrors this vehicle saw. Ambulances have become rolling hospitals, unlike here, where survival was iffy, at best. It was merely transportation to the nearest hospital and few survived. I remember my dad saying, “an ambulance ride is the kiss of death”, and luckily, to this day, in all my shenanigans( trucking, snowmobiling, motorcycling) I’ve never been in an ambulance,,,yet. Since these old cop and fire cars don’t do anything for me, I agree, make it more universal for today. Wouldn’t take much and a bigger audience. I thought the ’59 Ford was the nicest design.

    Like 2
  11. David Zornig

    I am never one to push “value of” theories, as any inanimate object is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
    We’ll let the insurance companies and their agreed value policies worry about that.
    And anyone should be able to do what they want to a car after they own it.
    But in this particular instance, the higher value will always be maintained if it is left original, as it was built and intended.
    Short of any mechanical issues that need addressing to drive it safely.
    Because by my research*, with only 8,663 Couriers built versus 45,588 2 door Ranch Wagons for `59, explaining at a car show what one did to convert this from it’s original state would be the most awkward thing ever.
    All the exterior lighting holes filled, adding more seats, changing out etched rear windows, removal of and repainting the fire dept.graphics etc.
    And let’s face it, car shows is where this thing will be for it’s remaining time on this earth.
    Why would one make it universal for today?
    And what bigger audience, where?
    Is a bigger audience is based on value, because it would still be worth less regardless of what was spent on the de-conversion.
    Is someone going to restomod it and take it on long trips?
    Wiping away it’s original history and value, just to have a `59 2 door Ranch Wagon that they could find elsewhere seems odd.
    Just not understanding the personal preference to potentially ruin this surely by now, one of a kind vehicle.
    *The production numbers cited referred to “`59 Del Rio 2 door wagons”, but Del Rio was only a `57-`58 model.
    So presumably they got the `59 model name wrong.
    `59 2 door Ranch Wagons production was 45,588 by contrast.

    Like 5
  12. Mountainwoodie

    I usually agree with HoA. but there is no way I would touch this period piece other than to maintain it. How many pristine overrestored ( insert model here) are there at any car show anywhere? Sometimes driving something no one else owns has an inherent value. In this case it reminds me of Rescue 8…..though that was a panel conversion.

    And.wasn’t LeFlors the name of the lawman chasing Butch and Sundance……..”who is that guy?”

    I’d be happy to drive this around…add an ” Out of Service” placard to the window so the none too swift dont ask for a ride to the hospital.

    Like 9
  13. DON

    I agree that this should not be modified . If I owned it, I’d repair the rust , fix what needed to be fixed and then get prepared to answer a slew of questions at car shows and cruise nights ! One more thing – I’d dump the whitewalls , they dont look right on a municipal car ,especially a base model one.

    Like 3
  14. Bob Kirkpatrick

    I would make it into a new helms bakery truck

    Like 2
  15. TimM

    Hard to believe the price difference between this and the Nomad!! I like nomads but I’d take this in a heartbeat and be a little more unique than the tri-5 crowd!!!

    Like 1
  16. David Egan

    A non-automotive correction: Emergency Medical Technicians didn’t come into being until decades after this ambulance was built, and nurses rarely, if ever, served in civilian ambulances in those days (or now).

    Ambulances like this were staffed by people with first aid training, and sometimes not even that.

    Like 3
  17. DAVID G

    I’m with Mountainwoodie. PRESERVE AS IS so it remains something special with all of its unobtainium original equipment.
    ANYONE (with means) can restore/remake this thing into their (insert his/her own definition of ‘cooler ride’ here).
    But only the guy who buys this thing and LEAVES IT AS IS can brag at any Show that it’s the last one known to have never been molested from its original configuration. Allow it to retain its original identity PLEASE!

    Like 9
  18. wcshook

    I just checked. There weren’t any EMT’s until around 1970 or so. I became one in 1974 in Florida. That being said, having an attendant with First Aid training was a good as one could hope for. In the area I grew up in, the City had a Pontiac based at the main station downtown. That old Federal would wake up the dead!
    As far as changing anything, no, leave it be! You want to change it, there are plenty of vehicles available for that. This is a most unique vehicle that deserves to remain intact and as it was originally intended.

    Like 4
  19. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    I’d buy this and cherish it — wish it was closer and I had the means! Surprised to see a V8 and not an inline 6 which would have been standard. Also, aren’t all 59 engines from FOMOCO painted Ford blue? That engine bay has as much red/orange as the rest of the car. Love this vehicle!

  20. Peter J Locker

    well, already sold but I agree, needs to stay original – but a nice “driver” garage companion would be an Edsel Roundup!

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