Siren Song: 1956 Chevrolet National Ambulance

Emergency vehicles are an interesting subculture of collecting. In some states, even historic vehicles (unless used by Emergency Services) cannot have red or blue flashing lights, may not have official markings, or may only be driven in parades. Other states just require a “not in service” plaque in the car window. This 1956 Chevrolet National Ambulance, located in Orange, California, is a great example of vintage life-saving apparatus. No price is listed here on craigslist but the seller gives his email and phone. With hardly any of these built and even less surviving today, this car is a rare and interesting example. Thanks to Collin S. for the tip!

Before the 1980s, ambulances were generally built out of station wagons. The buyer, be it a fire company or funeral home, would take new a station wagon to a coachbuilder to convert the car into a hearse/ambulance. The conversion entailed lengthening and strengthening the car, removing the rear seats, and raising the roof, and retrofitting the rear door. On this model, emergency lights were molded into the roof, and spotlights added to the A-pillars on either side. These conversions were done for both hearses and ambulances by coachbuilders, which is why these car bodies are often similar if not identical, though their purposes were completely opposite. In fact, funeral homes ran private ambulance services and used the more prestigious GM marques such as Cadillac or Oldsmobile. Chevrolet-based versions of these ambulances were less popular as compared to the more numerous Pontiac-based models and so, with attrition, are even rarer today than they were in the 1950s.

These cars were well-optioned; as ambulances, they had to be. This car is equipped with the 265 Chevy V8, what looks to be a single four-barrel carb, a Powerglide automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. With the single four-barrel, the horsepower was rated at 205, needed in a car weighing more than 4000 lbs, and designed for rushing to emergencies. It also has bumper guards, fender shields, a traffic viewer, and a tissue dispenser. I have to wonder about the need for the tissue dispenser though, perhaps a later addition? Of course, the lights and siren still work too. The seller states that the car was sold to the Pasadena, CA, Fire Department new in 1956. Also note this particular ambulance has four doors instead of the more typical two.

Given how rare this car is, it should command a decent price. It’s a rather niche vehicle; a new buyer would have to have the room for a lengthened station wagon as well as an interest in historic emergency vehicles. However, it’s not likely there will be another 1956 Chevrolet Ambulance for sale anytime soon, nor will there be another at any car show the buyer visited. This vehicle would command attention at any car meet. Would you buy this showstopper historic ambulance or would you rather spend that money elsewhere?

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Comments

  1. Steve Clinton

    WOW, what a find! Can you see driving up to a ‘cars & coffee’ meet with this rarity? This is the first non-Cadillac ’56 Chevy ambulance I’ve seen. With the exception of the back end, parts should be easy to locate. Unfortunately, I’m thinking the cost to acquire will be prohibitive, considering the seller doesn’t quote a price.

    Like 6
    • Derek

      “non-Cadillac ’56 Chevy”

      Aren’t they all?

      Like 14
      • Wayne Moyer

        I think it’s a reference to how a lot of these ambulances were Cadillac based like the Hearses. I mean you are correct of course.

        Like 3
      • Steve Clinton

        I agree, Wayne. Also, it was easier to buy a Cadillac hearse or ambulance because there were specific companies that based their products on Cadillacs.

        This reminds me of the lyric from the Joe South song “Games People Play”…

        “They wile away the hours
        In their ivory towers
        Till they’re covered up with flowers
        In the back of a black limousine.”

        Like 3
      • Derek

        I know, but it made I larff….!

      • Steve Clinton

        ‘It made I larff’. Say what?

        Like 1
      • Derek

        “made me laugh”, kind of in the style of an English country bumpkin.

        Apologies for the translational difficulties!

        Try this; The Archers might help…

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p092p2wd

        Like 2
  2. History

    As they say, if you’ve got to ask…….

    Like 3
    • Steve Clinton

      I’ve heard that saying before, but, honestly, who would buy anything without asking for the price?

      Like 5
      • History

        It means if they keep you guessing at the price, its cause its overpriced.

        Like 1
      • Jay

        Actually it means if you have to ask what the price is, you can’t afford it.

  3. History

    If you’ve got to ask…..

  4. History

    If you’ve got to ask…..

    • Buffalo Bob

      History is repeating…..

      Like 17
      • History

        Not sure why it posted 3 times oops.

      • Steve Clinton

        “Not sure why it posted 3 times oops.”
        Neither does Barnfinds.

        Like 3
  5. Steve Clinton

    I’ve heard that comment before but, honestly, who would purchase anything without asking for the price?

    Like 4
  6. Little_Cars

    Bill McCoskey, are you seeing this? Isn’t this the one you mentioned a few months back when the Pontiac Ambulance showed up on BF?

    • Bill McCoskey

      Little_cars,

      Yes it is! Now we know it’s still available as well.

      Like 3
      • Mountainwoodie

        @ Bill McCoskey : I really appreciate your long history with the hobby and your input on Barn Finds. We’ve got so many knowledgeable people commenting ( not me) that I learn something everyday.

        Down below you mention the Hershey ACA meets and the Henney Packards . Interesting. As a high school senior I went to Hershey in 1971-’72 with a teacher ( I know that sounds wrong in todays whacked out world) who had a huge collection of Indians back to the early teens. As I was a car nut he took me along with him. My first car in 1970 was a ’50 Packard Ultramatic and sure enough at that Hershey there was a Henney Packard Hearse side loader. I’ll never forget the hydraulics that changed/leveled the chassis to offload the coffin. I was mesmerized as teenagers tend to be with things they like.

        It might have been a Kanter Henney. Anyway it would be funny if that was the Herrshey you went to and saw the same Henney. :)

        Like 3
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        I was at that Hershey as well….I believe my second or third as I was eight or nine years old and loved the odd and obscure parts and people. Lots of fuzzy pictures of the swap meet mud field circa 1969-76.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Mountainwoodie,

        I first attended the Hershey AACA show with my dad back in the mid 1960s, and in 1969 I began vending there. ANY Henney-Packard hearse, especially one with the side loading and leveling system, is very rare. So it’s very likely you saw one of the Kanter hearses.

        For a short time I had a 1948 Henney Packard hearse with both the 3-way loading system and the hydraulic leveling system. One day, sitting in a long traffic light, I noticed a right hand drive Lotus Europa sitting in the left turn lane, to the left to me. I put the e-brake on and the shifter in neutral, and moved the leveling system lever so the hearse body would tilt over fully to the left.

        The initial look of horror from the Lotus driver was priceless, but when he saw the smile on my face, he boke out in laughter. About that time the light changed for him to make his left turn, so off he went.

        I placed the leveling lever back to it’s neutral position, took the e-brake off, and once the green light changed for me, I took off.

        While that situation probably took less than a minute or 2, it’s something I’ll never forget, and I figure the Lotus driver certainly won’t! I can just imagine what that huge and very tall hearse must have looked like as it appeared to roll over onto that tiny Lotus!

        Like 2
  7. Steve Clinton

    (It looks like Barnfinds has a glitch today.)

    Like 2
  8. local_sheriff

    OK, definately a nice ambulance and being a Chevy fairly unusual too – but that’s understandable as that 265 could not possibly be sufficient for this kind of duty.

    Brands from higher up in the GM hierarchy were preferred for such conversions, both because much bigger powerplants were available(read: needed) but also because Olds, Buick and Pontiac were considered as better constructions than a cheap Chev. The conversion itself was a major investment, so the difference between the cheapest vs the most expensive starting point was miniscule.

    Really like it and I’d definately like to own a vintage ambulance/hearse/combo car.However personally I prefer the late 50s/early 60s conversions;in my world a tri-five ambulance is simply too tiny…! 😁

    Like 2
    • Steve Clinton

      Are you planning on riding in the back? (wink)

      • local_sheriff

        Actually, yes. As I don’t have so high demands to accommodations when going on road trips to and from weekend car shows, an ambulance or hearse would make a great place to sleep plus make a highly eye-catching vehicle at the expo too! 😄

        Like 6
      • Bill McCoskey

        Local_Sheriff,

        As someone who started off selling vintage car parts at old car flea markets in 1969, I found Ambulances and Hearses made great vehicles to transport heavy loads of car parts, and then after empty, made excellent accommodations for overnight stays, and the extra headroom made the stay much easier.

        I remember seeing 2 1948 Henney-Packard hearses, stuffed full of Packard parts, arriving at the Hershey AACA flea market and the Packard Club national meets, in the 1970s. The owner of these hearses were the famous Kanter brothers, founders of Kanter Auto Parts, one of the largest old car parts suppliers in the world.

        Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Hey Sheriff Buford T. Justice, can’t you fit??

  9. Steve Clinton

    This beauty is located about 2 miles from me…now if I only had the room, and the money, and my wife’s permission…

    Like 5
    • Stan Marks

      Especially the wife’s permission….
      AHhhhhhh, the single life. LOL!

      Like 2
      • Steve Clinton

        Don’t rub it in! :-(

        Like 1
  10. Little_Cars

    Bill McCoskey…didn’t you find this one a few months back?

    Like 1
  11. Bob

    Believe it or not, years ago there was one of these, painted all white, parked in a drive way one town over. What made it even more unusual was that it was filled with unopened boxes of Revel models!! I kid you not.

    Like 2
  12. daniel wright

    A rare and awesome beast of a car. It appears to be sitting on flat tires and has no battery. I don’t think it has moved in a while. If I had money, and a place to put it I would take this one home in a minute.

    Like 1
  13. Kurt

    Forget about the ambulance, I want to know about the 67 SS 427 with the rare D96 stripes.

    Like 11
  14. Wd62vette

    A good friend of mine has a nicely restored original 1957 Chevrolet National ambulance. These are very rarely on the market. Dont know what the price is. If you are a serious 55 56 57 Chevrolet collector you should pursue to purchase this car. It may be years before another that is original restored shows up for sale.

  15. Moondawg00

    Actually, most ambulances of the period had 4 doors.

    Like 4
  16. Jcs

    Undeniably cool.

    Like 2
  17. charlie Member

    And it has amber parking/front turn signal lights – new in ’60 or so, I converted those on my ’56 Chevy (I was 19) and got a ticket from a Pennsylvania highway patrol because they “were not authorized equipment” in PA, for a ’56 Chevy where they had to be white, while ’59 and later (or whatever the year) the turn signal had to be amber. It was $25 and the family lawyer said “pay it” it will cost you or your father more to contest it.

    So, the engine has plenty of power for an urban situation, it looks good, you could sleep in it on overnight trips, it would make a great RV, and it would run fine on the highways as well.

    Like 2
    • Steve Clinton

      No doubt the attorney figured there was no money in it for him.

    • Little_Cars

      Some cars sold in the US didn’t get the amber lights until the 1962-63 model year. My US-spec 1965 MG Midget went from clear to amber even later!

      Like 2
    • Steve Clinton

      Charlie,
      I googled it…
      Since 25 states had laws specifying white turn indicator light, it took until January of 1962 to get everyone on board. So, by 1963, it was required for all new cars to have amber turn indicators up front.

      Like 2
  18. Brian Weyeneth

    I’d take it in a minute. Buff the paint out, add some LEDs, letter it and park it at my local VFD. It would be a not-so-quick response vehicle but who cares?

  19. Danger Dan

    63grand is what the man said he would take for the ambulance

    Like 5
  20. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking car. Among my favourite cars have always been ambulances, police cars, and taxicabs. I’ve never seen a Chevy car of this vintage used as an ambulance. Given its condition, it looks as though it’s been parked inside for much of its life, and needs minimal work to clean it up. Mechanically, that’s the question. Will it run or drive? I’m not in the market to buy a classic car, but I’d be willing to pay between $15k and up, depending on how rare it is.

    Like 1
  21. glenn hilpert

    $63K, no problem, I’ll just run over to my ATM and be right back. Even for that kind of price, I would look very hard for a 59 or 60 Superior Cad.

  22. charlie Member

    Ah, so it was later than I remembered, the $25 I do remember, since I was making $1.55 an hour.

  23. LEMAN

    if offerings don’t have a price then they should not be listed on b/f what good did this do anyone.

    • Steve Clinton

      Some people are not interested in buying, but enjoy seeing rare automobiles they may never see anywhere else.
      (And some people are never happy.)

      Like 3
      • Steve Clinton

        That might be why there are 40+ comments.

  24. Bill McCoskey

    Some people equate the word “RARE” for “Extremely valuable”.

    More often or not, the reason something is rare is because so few were bought when new, and because few people today want the item, it is not that valuable. [The good ‘ol law of supply & demand.]

    One of my favorite quotes: “It’s rare because no one wanted it then, and no one wants it today”. While that’s not really applicable to this car [I’d love to own it!] It’s a good quote to remember.

    There is a small, but very active interest in ambulances, hearses, and limousines, and one of the best groups to join is the Professional Car Society {PCS}.

    As to the comment about ambulances being mostly 2-door vehicles, I’ve never seen a 2-door ambulance, not one. ALL ambulances are either 3 or 5 door vehicles. [Don’t forget the back door!]

    And concerning the original post about ambulances generally being made out of converted station wagons, this is in error. At least 90% of ambulances [and hearses] built before the changeover to modular & van type vehicles were built on commercial chassis supplied by the automobile manufacturers.
    GM offered longer commercial chassis on Cadillac and Pontiac vehicles, Packard provided lengthened chassis to Henney Body Co.

    The remaining 10% of ambulances were indeed made by small independent conversion companies, utilizing either station wagon or sedan delivery bodies. Some kept the same wheelbase, some were lengthened, and a few had increased headroom roof lines.

    National, as shown in this example, made vehicle conversions on Chevy and Pontiac chassis. Memphis Coach created similar versions. Another prolific conversion shop was John Little, of Ontario, Canada.

    As to the asking price of $63,000. I’m not going to say he’ll never get it, or anywhere close. Because these are so rare and there are no other examples of sales to base a value upon, he might find someone with the cash who desires such a vehicle. But I would be very surprised to see it sell for over $40,000.

    Like 3
    • local_sheriff

      Bill; what you say here about ambulances/hearses primarily being based on commercial chassis is very true. A regular car chassis would mostly not be a sufficient structure for the added weight of an extra length body + all equipment. Also, as just about everything from the windshield back would need EXTENSIVE modding it was easier for each coachbuilder to fab the main bodies themselves.

      Now, this is where I think vehicles like these become rolling art – even though they’re based on production cars, they’re hand-crafted in extremely low #s and considerably longer. A lot of head-scratching must have gone into making them not appear goofy while still (mostly) using the car brand’s front and rear design elements. Plus those designs would change every year! Like this ’64 C/B Olds: https://www.streetsideclassics.com/vehicles/2727-atl/1964-oldsmobile-98-hearse
      It may look like any stretched Olds wagon – it’s just that no ’64 Olds 98 wagon existed…! The coachbuilders were extremely clever at integrating production design features on vehicles that ended up very proportionally different.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Local_sheriff,

        I again agree 100% with your comments.

        I adore that 1964 Olds 98 hearse, but I suspect this car was used mostly for “first removal” work [from the family home to the funeral home] as it is also equipped with a cot rail on the left rear inner panel to hold the medical cot in place during the ride. These were also used to pick up the occasional casket when needed, and could be pushed into hearse service when required.

        Cotner-Bevington was sort of a Maverick in the commercial vehicle industry, as they bought special partial “kit” Oldsmobiles from GM, and by extending the chassis, built the specialist bodies on a semi-assembly line to keep costs down. One of their key success points was their ability to provide Hearse and Ambulance vehicles to the US Government and Military at the lowest bid price.

        I had a 1952 Henney-Packard hearse with windows all the way to the rear [known as a “limousine style” hearse]. The previous owner, who owned other Packards, removed the hearse’s casket table and installed another Packard 4-door front seat assembly, creating a 6 passenger station wagon.

        Speaking of a Henney-Packard wagon, in 1954 the Henney Motor Company actually built a special show car, known as the “Super Station Wagon”, that sat upwards of 12* people, in 3 rows of seats, plus a backwards facing u-shaped seat with center table, entered from the rear door. I remember seeing this very car parked at a used car dealership in the early 1970s, not long before it was vandalized and burned to a hulk. This was in the Martinsburg, WV area.

        To see this fascinating car, here is the link to view the original color rendering from Henney:
        https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cb/da/83/cbda837d1809918a6e9ae38beedfb38b.jpg

        And here is an original 1954 Henney Motor Co. ad featuring the Super Station Wagon: https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6092/6240727499_fbfa185da1_z.jpg
        In that ad you can also see the proposed 1954 Henney-Packard “Flying Sportsman”, a similar vehicle except it was to be built as a camper with bunks for up to 4 people, and a fold-out canopy on the driver’s side, with both side doors, when fully opened, supporting the canopy. [The Henney doors, without a center post, had an opening 13 feet wide!]

        After Henney closed in late 1954, the owner of Henney, Russell Feldman, kept the Super Station Wagon for many years. The Flying Sportsman was never built. Henney Motor Co, having been poorly managed for the last few years, was in serious financial trouble, and with Packard introducing an all-new suspension system with interconnected torsion bars, a suspension that would not allow the chassis to be extended, the writing was on the wall.

        *Henney advertised the Super Station Wagon as seating 10 people, but in measuring the seating areas, I believe it would seat up to 12 people, without being terribly squeezed:
        3 in the front seat, 2 in the folding jump seats, 3 in the rear seat, and 4 in the “way-back” seat.

        For anyone having an interest in hearse & ambulance specialty companies, the Henney company history makes for interesting reading.

        Like 2
      • Stan Marks
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Side note about the Henney Packards. One of the rarest promotional scale models is of this car, in 1/25th scale by the precursor to AMT. As they were molded in colored acetate not many survived the decades without warpage due to a breakdown chemically of their bodies around the metal chassis and wheels. I’ve had the model on my wish list at least since 1969 when my father and I were seriously into collecting every scale model known to man. Not sure how many colors they came in or how many were produced (probably more than the real car!). I’ve seen them in deep red and also white. Rarely without a dip in the center along the long roofline. Thanks for letting me reminisce here, Bill!

        Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey

        Little_cars,

        Thanks for reminding me about the AMT Henney-Packard toys. You are correct in identifying them as from AMT, I’ve seen one in the original box. And yes, the early molded Acetate plastic had a problem with the chemical plasticizers leaching out & evaporating, leading to warpage, and if the toy was subject to high temperatures [like being stored in an attic], the body can warp terribly. Once warped, it cannot be fixed.

        I am fortunate to have 3 of these, one in the rare cream color [but very badly warped], one in the more common maroon color, very little warpage — I keep it wrapped in wide rubber bands with a block of wood cut to fit between the “rocker panels”, so the sides can’t warp more. The third one is a painted black, but originally maroon, version. I painted this with spray paint when I was 19 years old, because I had the real matching hearse. I only paid $10 for it! [The toy, not the car!]

        My friend Sam, down in Virginia, specialized in resin molded 1/25 scale cars, mostly copies of rare plastic promo models and slush cast promos from Barkley. Sam made copies of this Packard, including all the tiny pieces of trim. Sadly Sam passed away about 25 years ago, and I don’t think anyone else continued his work.

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Most of Sam Miller’s Studebaker “molds” went to one fella in southern Virginia if I recall. Where the others went is anyone’s guess. I have a few Miller Memorabilia cars built as static models as well as a few he didn’t release to the public (61 and 62 Corvair station wagons in 1/25 scale for instance). Once again, I’ll say you and I have travelled many of the same paths separately in our vintage car lives. I visited his home near Charlottesville sometime in the early 1980s and his collection of model cars and toys, and nascent resin-casting technique, was a sight to behold. His stuff shows up on eBay from time to time with prices out of line with the better resincast models that have come since his passing. RIP Sam Miller.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Little_cars,

        Yep, I was in Sam’s house as well, shall we say it was well-stocked with stuff! I’m pleased to hear someone has the molds & they were not trashed.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Little_cars,

        I’m sure we’ve met before. If you’ve ever visited the vintage toy car show & sale at the Dunn-Loring fire hall in northern Virginia, then we have to have met, as I was a vendor there for quite a few years until I moved too far away. My sister-in-law’s uncle [Charlie?] ran that show until his death.

        I’m a big guy [size 44 suit coat] and always wore a long beard, that by the 1980s was slowly changing from black to salt & pepper. I’ve also always worn a hat, damn near everywhere. Wish I could include my photo, you’d probably recognize me.

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Oh yes, the Dun Loring model car show and swap meet! You no doubt know Fred Maxwell, Ferdinand Zegel Jack Boehm and Ray Denney all of whom were pals of ours. My father always hauled a bunch of projects home. I inherited and occasionally restore items from his big collection at my home in Tennessee. Some of my fondest memories of Dun Loring are the times I would run ahead of him to strike deals before he could walk up to the tables. At least a dozen built kit cars grace my shelves now that were built by builders in the DC metro area.
        Here is a picture of me and Dad in a typical pose next to his Corvair convertible and wagon. This would be the age I was when cruising the model shows, Hershey, Carlisle, and Mount Airy. .

      • Bill McCoskey

        Little_cars,

        Well now, a 2 Corvair family back before the cars were considered collectable! And 2 of the rarer models as well.

        I had a favorite Corvair, a 1965 Monza hardtop with 4-speed and factory A/C. Should have kept it, but the door hinge posts had rotted terribly from the A/C water draining into the post areas.

        I’ve always had a soft spot for air cooled vehicles. Somewhere I have a photo of 4 vehicles lined up in front of my shop; A 2-cylinder NSU Prinz, a 4-cylinder NSU 1200TT, a 6-cylinder Corvair, and a 8-cylinder Tatra T-603. I should have parked my single cylinder riding lawn mower next to the NSU, but didn’t think to do it until long after that day.

        Like 2
  25. Patrick Curran

    I would like to know more about the rare 67 Impala 427 SS sitting next to the ambulance. It has the not often seen stripes on the side as well.

  26. Jost

    Very cool, great find. I tend to think that back on the 50,s these were not so rare. I would imagine that small hospitals, fire dept, etc… would opt for a Chevy, Ford, Plymouth rather then the big buck caddis. But, these were not saved, when they finished their service people saw no reason to save them but the caddis, etc… were more valuable and people saved more of them. Just a thought.

  27. Mikey P

    $63,000?? This guys higher than 10 hippies!!

    Like 1
  28. Bill McCoskey

    Stan Marks,

    As to the reason there was no series 98 wagon, It’s likely the same reason GM didn’t embrace a Buick Limited or any Cadillac wagon. In the minds of GM senior management, wagons cheapened the luxury model name.

    If a GM buyer wanted a wagon, they had 4 product lines to choose from, and chances were good a wagon purchase would be as a second car for anyone who could afford an Olds or Cadillac. That would lead GM buyers to buy a mid-level Buick or Olds wagon.

    GM management was never happy with the limited production Cadillac wagons [or Elcamino type Cadillacs] created by custom shops. This type of thinking was finally upended with the introduction of the Escalade line.

    Don’t forget, back in the 1960s, even into the late 1980s, a Cadillac dealer franchise was often combined with a second, or even third line of GM cars, often paired with Chevrolet and Olds. Only the big cities had the buying power to support a Cadillac only dealership.

    Like 4
    • Stan Marks

      Outstanding, Bill. Thanks, so much, for your explanation.

      Re: big city .dealerships.. I lived in L.A. between ’62-’83.
      After years of Pontiac convertibles, they switched to Caddy
      convertibles in the 60’s. Their dealership was Hillcrest Cadillac in Beverly Hills.. One of their close friends’ was Maury Gaylord & his wife. Maury was also their salesman. He sold many caddy’s to Elvis. Their grandson is Olympic champ, Mitch Gaylord. Maury would tell us how Presley would come in & pick out several Caddy’s at a time. for family & friends, like you & I would pick out pastries in a bakery. LOL!!

      Re: Caddy El Caminos. When I worked at the studios, during the 70’s, Evel Knievel guest starred on an episode of “The Bionic Woman”, in 1977. We were on location at the Universal Sheraton Hotel, where Telly Savalas lived. As usual, I had my 35mm camera with me, taking pics of Evel in his Stutz convertible. I’ve got shots of his white Caddy El Camino, he used for carrying his jump bikes. I wish I could post pics, here.

      Like 1
      • Stan Marks

        I should clarify, I was referring to cars my parents drove.

  29. Jay

    The price is so high because it come with a Ghost Busters ambulance as well.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Jay,

      ROFL! Looks like we are the only ones to see the model!

  30. Stu

    Grew up in Sterling, IL. Across the river was Rock Falls, IL., the home of Eureka Coach. Eureka Coach transformed Cadilacs into funeral coaches. I love ’56 Chevies so I do like this ambulance. Would love it for my 60th hs class reunion.

    • Stan Marks

      Stu, you could be the designated driver, who takes your alumni friends home, from the reunion. LOL!!

    • Bill McCoskey

      Stu,

      In mentioning your 60th HS reunion, I was reminded of the time I went to my 30th HS reunion. I had my close friend Edgar dress in a suit, and he drove my girlfriend and I to the reunion, located at a large hotel complex. The car: My beautiful & all original 1948 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith with a limousine body by Hooper & Co.

      Edgar parked the limo right out front of the hotel and stayed with the car. He called me on my cell phone not long after our arrival, to tell me another reunion participant had come up and identified himself as an “old friend of mine”, having heard it was my limo. Upon discovering the car belonged to me, he got especially friendly with Edgar when he was told the car was not rented. At that point he provided his name. Edgar recognized the name [Edgar was in the next graduating class], so he wanted to make sure I knew about the conversation.

      This other person was always considered a class bully to many people, including my friend and I. So I was prepared when he came in search of me. He pushed his way into a group of people I was talking with, and interrupting the conversation, he blurted out “Hey Bill, nice limo!” I responded “Thanks”, and followed up with “And who are you?”.

      He provided his name, to which I said “Who?”. He said his name again, and I simply said “Sorry, I don’t think I know you.” The look on his face was priceless. He turned around and walked off. I never heard from the guy again.

      To mis-quote a well known credit card TV ad;

      The cost of 2 tickets to the reunion: $80.
      The fuel cost for the limo: $30
      The value of the conversation: Priceless!

      Edgar and I still laugh about what happened that night, 30+ years later.

      Like 2
  31. vintagehotrods

    Neat old car, but for the life of me when a seller is asking $63,000 for a car, is it too much to ask to put some air in the tires, roll it outside and take some decent pictures of it? First impressions sell the car in my experience!

    Like 2
  32. Harold Morton

    I remember seeing Pontiac based ambulances at the Keesler Air Force Base Hospital in the early 1960s. I asked my father why they weren’t Caddy like every other ambulance I’d ever seen. He explained that military vehicles tended to shy away from ‘luxury’ brands- at least back then they attempted to appear cost saving and Spartan.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      Harold Morton,

      Your father was correct!

      Starting with the 1949 US Military joint purchase of Civilian based Hearses and Ambulances, Coachbuilders, together with car manufacturers, created cheaper, “no frills” vehicles to keep costs down. The Military typically placed these big orders about every 3 to 4 years.

      That year, Henney-Packard put together a special version of their offerings. To lower the costs, the company built vehicles without such standard equipment as working/opening rear side doors, windows in those 2 side doors, as well as rear quarter windows. In 50+ years of looking for one of these vehicles, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very unlikely any examples survive today.

      Henney-Packard scored the next military order for the 1953 model year. What the company did to keep costs down was quite creative. They introduced the Henney-Packard Junior series, and also made it available to the public as well.

      The Henney-Packard Junior was not built on the extended Packard Commercial chassis, but on the standard Packard Patrician chassis, purchased from Packard as a chassis and drive train, with the body from the firewall forward already in place.

      Built without the larger senior Packard drive train, the junior cars used the base drive line as found in the Clipper line. [288 cu. in. 5 main bearing instead of the 327 cu. in. 9 main bearing version of the indestructible Packard straight 8

      Henney then took the basic hearse/ambulance body, removed the body shell section where the rear side doors, roof, and floor would have been, and ended up with a shortened vehicle. From the front & rear views the cars looked like the big Henney-Packard vehicles, but from the side the difference was substantial. Here is a photo from the side; https://car-from-uk.com/ebay/carphotos/full/ebay649767.jpg

      Problem was, these cars cost almost as much to build as the full-size versions, and Henney lost money on each one built. The total number built in the 2 year period was only 500 vehicles. Had the company managed to stay in business past 1954, based on the specification requirements for the next big military hearse & ambulance order for the 1958 model year, I seriously doubt Henney-Packard would have managed to secure the contract, as the Ambulance requirement changed due to lessons learned in the Korean war. For 1958, Ambulances were required to hold up to FOUR cots, not just one.

      So the next big military Hearse and Ambulance order went to Superior, and their Pontiac line of commercial chassis. With a stepped roof line [the step was located above the center door line], and the vertical step-up body line slanted forward, it was not considered a pleasing look, but it got Superior the contract. Here is an example of the raised roof Superior Pontiac https://www.wallpaperup.com/uploads/wallpapers/2014/02/23/270380/bd57925ca86b2f9f9614e80a72c45bd4.jpgCriterion:

      The next Military big order for commercial chassis cars came for the 1965 model year. It appears that at that time the military began yearly orders of commercial chassis cars, and Superior Pontiac usually got the order.

      While I have no evidence to back up my theory, I speculate that the yearly orders became the norm because of the demands of the Viet Nam war, with far more injured survivors coming home, and the need for hearses for those who didn’t.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        I forgot to include a 1951 military order for a few [# unknown to me] 1951 Henney-Packard full size ambulances with the sealed & windowless rear side doors. Only 1 example is known to survive.

        Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Haven’t we seen one of the tiny Packard junior ambulances here on Barn Finds in the past few years? I think I also remember one painted Army drab in the movie M*A*S*H.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Yes, the vehicle in MASH was a 1954 Henney-Packard, and the series was set in a war that ended in early 1953.

        This is of course typical for movie & TV. In the movie “Patton”, George C Scott as Patton is seen getting into an olive drab 1948 Packard Super limo. Must have been a very early prototype, as Patton died in 1945!

        Like 1
    • Stan Marks

      Does anyone recall, the vehicle that picked up JFK’s remains,
      at Andrew’s AF Base? Every moment, of that event, is seared in my memory. It wasn’t a Caddy. It was a brand new Pontiac.

      https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/jfks-casket-arrives-dc-20539704

      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YUYiUCTO8Bo/UBmrie_8-lI/AAAAAAAAGKY/GVahYQJOCKQ/s2500/November-22-1963-JFKs-Casket-Is-Taken-Off-Air-Force-One-At-Andrews-Air-Force-Base.jpg

      • Stan Marks

        ’64 Pontiac

      • Mountainwoodie

        Correct. It was a Pontiac!. Lew Rockwell is a nut. An early Alex Jones. Enough said.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Mountainwoodie,

        Your reply had 5 sentences, and in my opinion, all accurate & correct.

        Like 2
      • Stan Marks

        Bill, the technical advisor sure dropped the ball, on Patton’s limo.

        In ’77, I worked for Frank McCarthy, who produced the movie, MacArthur, as well as producing Patton.
        I also got to know, Dr. Clayton James, technical advisor on MacArthur. I have many pics, I took while on location.

        Here’s a doozy for you.
        I’m sure you recall the iconic “North by Northwest”.
        There’s a famous scene, in the cafeteria, at Mount Rushmore. A gunshot was about to occur. In the background is a little boy, sitting at his table. Seconds before the gun went off, you can see the boy covering his ears with his hand. Funny stuff….

      • Bill McCoskey

        Stan,

        You’re probably like myself and many other guys here on BF, I have to see a movie at least a couple of times, because the first and second times I’m too busy spotting mistakes to actually enjoy the movie. And if the movie has a lot of mistakes, I’ll never really enjoy it.

        I’m a sticker for detail, it’s one of the things that used to drive my restoration mechanics crazy. I was so damn hard to please, if the car was worthy of perfection, or the customer was paying for perfection!

  33. Bill McCoskey

    Stan,

    My memory on the JFK last ride vehicle is a bit foggy, but I recall it was in a “macabre” or “death” museum somewhere in the south, possibly New Orleans or Florida.

    Like 2
    • Stan Marks

      Re: kid covering his ears… He had two hands. LOL!!

      • Bill McCoskey

        Stan,

        That makes me laugh because about 20 years ago, when after setting up a large [8″ to 24″] shell selection of fireworks for a commercial July 4 event, I had to have my girlfriend insert my left earplug just before I started shooting. I had popped my left shoulder joint a few days prior, and my left arm was in a tight sling. Have you ever tried inserting one of those foam type plugs with the opposite hand?

    • Stan Marks

      Bill, Are you familiar with the N by NW scene, I’m referring to?

      • Bill McCoskey

        Stan,

        I know the movie well, but cannot remember the specific scene.

      • Stan Marks

        Bill,
        You probably have it in your movie library, Netflix, etc…
        The scene is towards the end of the movie.

        I worked on Hitchcock’s last movie, “Family Plot” (’76).
        Unfortunately, it was his worst.

      • On and On On and On Member

        My favorite was ‘Frenzy’ —– his 2nd to last????

  34. Stan Marks

    For years, there have been speculations, concerning the body of JFK’s return, from Dallas, on AF1. It’s been said, JFK’s remains were taken out of the original casket, at Parkland Hospital & that the casket, we see being removed, at Andrews, was empty.
    Here’s a very interesting, but very long article, on this event.

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/07/douglas-p-horne/jfks-phonied-up-autopsy/

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      Stan,

      I would be more surprised if it was discovered that JFK was actually in the casket back to Andrews AFB. I can’t go into serious details, but I was in the Military Police, 519th MP’s, at Ft. George G. Meade, just north of Wash D.C. Our mission was to protect the Capitol & White House during emergencies. That included both the physical facilities, as well as people.

      One thing I can dwell on is “substitution”. Travel for POTUS, VPOTUS, family members, and other high level US and foreign citizens, was often by multiple methods of transportation, different routes used, multiple identical vehicles, etc. These options were decided at the last moment, with only a very few people knowing the actual situation.

      If a serious situation develops, one can see perhaps 3 different POTUS & teams, go in different directions by 3 different methods. I still live not far from the DC area. To this day I still see what appear to be multiple Marine 1 helicopters overhead, all in a line. Is the POTUS up there? If so, which helicopter? In the past I’ve seen up to 6 identical ‘copters matching Marine 1, sitting at Joint Base Andrews here in Maryland.

      So I would assume there was a high probability of JFK traveling from Dallas back to DC, in a different aircraft, even as cargo on a commercial flight, with multiple highly trained security people on board as “paying passengers”.

      Sometimes the most secure transportation method is by the least expected manner, or in such a way as to blend in to the public background.

      When the Smithsonian Institution obtained the Hope Diamond from Harry Winston jewelers in NYC, the small package was sent thru the US Mail, insured for [if memory is correct] $1.5 million. So the Post Office was tasked with providing security, and it arrived at the S. I. in DC, the next day.

      Like 3
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Thank you for your MP service, Bill M. You must have made a good bouncer in the day! If you want to see how the substitution works on the big screen, take a look at “The Italian Job” remake with Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, etc. Alternate armored cars, etc.

        Like 2
      • Stan Marks

        I’m familiar with the multiple travel plans, for high end govt. officials, to confuse the public. When I was a cop, in L.A., I worked details, with the Secret Svc., when the president visited.

        Like 1
  35. Bill McCoskey

    Stan,

    Yep, a big city LEO would be familiar with the procedures. I doubt they’ve changed significantly over the last few decades.

    Like 2

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