Superior Coach: 1970 Pontiac Bonneville Safari Ambulance

Andrew TannerBy Andrew Tanner

This Pontiac ambulance is without a doubt one of my favorite vehicles I have encountered online in quite sometime. I have a thing for really, really, long cars, as well as station wagons. Therefore I naturally like hearses, and an ambulance is just a hearse painted a different color, with lots of lights and a siren, so what’s not to like? Not only that, but ambulances seem to be far more scarce than hearses of this vintage. There is no denying this thing is cool, especially given that most of the items that make it an ambulance appear to be present! It can be found here on eBay¬†with a Buy It Now price of $7,500.

Pictured here are all the goodies that make people like me seriously contemplate purchasing a car like this! This Bonneville has the emergency lights, signs, and spotlight all still intact! Not only that, but the seller mentions that included are beacon lights and a siren, items that did not come with the car to the seller and have not been installed. The seller also mentions that a nicer identical spotlight is included with the sale. This car is touted to run, drive, stop, and steer properly and is equipped with a 455 cubic inch V8! To quote the seller, this is “the ultimate wagon!”

This angle really helps visualize how long this car is! Even with very little for reference, it is still quite clear that this is an enormous car. It is also clear that the body, although weathered, is relatively straight. In many Pontiac hearses of this era that I have come across, the upper rear corners where the roof meets the quarters tend to rust out, perhaps a side effect of a vinyl roof. In any case, this Bonneville appears to have very minimal rust all around, though the interior pictures are a little tough to make out and the seller mentions that a driver’s side floor pan is included with the sale.

If I had $7,500 to spare, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be on my way to Fort Worth to check this car out! I love to talk to fellow enthusiasts at car-related events, and this would be the ultimate conversation starter. There are very few automobiles that appeal to the general public the way vintage ambulances do, but these things sure do draw a crowd! I would restore it to how it would’ve been when in service, what would you do with it?

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  1. Rabbit

    In & of itself, being Pontiac-based is odd enough, as most car-based ambulances were either Caddies or Oldsmobiles. I’ve either owned or dealt with several, having grown up around them. I like it! A bit rich for my blood, tho.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rabbit, actually, in the 60’s, Pontiac’s were very popular. President Kennedy’s last ride was in one.

      • Rabbit

        Appreciate that, Howard. As I was coming of age, in the late 70’s the car-based rigs had all but been retired to parade or show duty, due to the state enacting headroom standards. Our last Cad was a 68 Miller-Meteor show rig, & the boss kept a 73 & 76 Olds, both H&E built, for cruisers, before selling them off to collectors (the 73 actually ended up in Sweden!)

    • King Al

      I’d buy it and enter in the next One Lap of America as is. Great patina.

  2. blyndgesser

    This would make a nice Ectomobile tribute, despite not being a Cadillac.

    • Miguel

      Bite your tongue.

    • newfieldscarnut

      Where would you find a windshield for it ??

  3. John

    Love that grill!

  4. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    I have had some of the Superior ambulance (& hearse) brochures over the years, and they look to be very well put together. And who can argue with all those bullet lights.

    But…I wonder how these were to drive, especially if you were making fast tracks for the hospital. Soft springing (or maybe they had harder springs), slow steering, big and heavy—with emphasis on the BIG and HEAVY—might have made them tricky to drive.

    So, thanks to all those ex-BIG-ambluance drivers who made it through to the hospital with their injured.

    Are there any of you out there to fill us in on how these drove, loaded up?

    • Miguel

      I had the 1967 version of this car. It was a pleasure to drive.

      I went to visit my grandmother one day and I parked it outside her front door. My car looked like it was still in service, by the way. Red and white it was.

      Anyway, her phone started ringing with all the neighbors asking her if she was alright. She asked me to park the car around the side. I thought it was funny.

      These are very smooth to drive especially with the extended wheel base. They made shorter ones which I would assume would bounce a bit more.

      This is way too much money for this car as you would have to fix a lot of rust and a lot of body damage. There are better cars out there for just a little more money.

  5. Jean Lecointe

    I do love the way you spoke about ambulances.
    I did look for a family car in 1986 to carry my five chlidren.
    As a french Citroen addict it could be but a DS.
    Unfortunately the familly DS eastate wagons were already rare or completely exhausted.
    So I bought a DS ambulance with a raised roof a siren, a stretcher in the back and even the oxygen bottles.
    I removed all the ambulance equipement, I replaced the DS19 four speeds engine by a DS23 five speed power plant and Lord, what a car it was.
    Unfortunately I don’t have it any more.
    She is the happiness of a lithuanian collector .
    Thank you for the dreams you provide with Barn Finds


    That thing is wild. Not my cup but where would you park the battleship?

    • SamM

      One Birth over, of course.

  7. Fred

    If this thing could talk, bet it could tell some interesting (and sad) stories.

  8. Sir_Burban

    I have several of these era ambulances, this is a 1972 3/4 ton 4×4 Ambulance. I am actively searching for the SENTINNAL emblem that would have been placed by the conversion company. Please let me know if you know of one. Thanks

  9. John C Cargill

    As far as Pontiac based ambulances, remember the one that picked up JFK when the body was shipped back from Texas. It was a 1963 Pontiac Navy car.

  10. Doug Towsley

    Ghostbusters is the obvious response….

    But look up the old movie “Mother,Jugs & speed” Great entertainment. Bill Cosby was in it as a pervy paramedic shagging girls in the back of the ambulance and was surprising to see him in that role when I first saw it, but really Ironic in light of the last few years news reports about Dirty Bill.


    ” Mother, Jugs & Speed is a 1976 American black comedy film directed by Peter Yates. It stars Bill Cosby (Mother), Raquel Welch (Jugs), Harvey Keitel (Speed), and Larry Hagman as employees of an independent ambulance service trying to survive in Los Angeles.”

    • King Al

      A movie poster with the Cosby tie-in would certainly spur bidding.

  11. Doug Towsley

    screw Cosby,,, Raquel Welch (Jugs) All the way! Read the plot lines about the movie,, Its pretty crazy material, I couldnt believe it when I first saw it back years ago.
    Bill Cosby harassing Nuns? Drinking on the job? Seems Hollywood is out of fresh ideas often and try to recycle old movies and shows but this is one that really COULD be a great remake if done right.
    I vote Quentin Tarantino as director as the obvious choice.

  12. Mike

    At $2500 it would be fun

    At $7500 the seller is dreaming!

  13. mike D

    I would imagine that when it is repainted ( IF the body isn’t too bad) this would be a classy looking ride .. somehow I think fender skirts are missing… or not if indeed the engine is in good working order ,( or rebuild it ) duals with glass packs would generate some stares … certainly not to rod, but the idea of a huge Pontiac Ambulance pulling up beside someone, with a rumbling engine would draw some stares

    • Miguel

      This car never had fender skirts.

      • mike D

        thankx Miguel..

  14. Van

    Great for tailgating, call it ball busters.

  15. Tim Waters

    When I saw this car, the first thing I thought of was the Disorderly Orderly with Jerry Lewis. They used 2 1961 Superior Bonneville!

  16. Cris Carver

    If I reformed my old garage band, or started a new one, this would an awesome tour vechile!

  17. Rustytech

    Seeing this makes me feel old! I remember when almost all ambulances looked like those! Cadillac was the most common, but Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs were popular too. I don’t ever remember seeing one built on a Buick chassis though. Anybody seen a Buick?

  18. cudaman

    Here’s one in my town…….

  19. charlie

    Alameda County Fair (CA) demolition derby type thing, Saturday night, guy ran a similar hearse, twice as long as some of the cars, did quite well. Worth $200 for that purpose. It lived to fight another day.

  20. LAB3

    If I where to buy it you’d see me on the festival tour with tanks of nitrous and face masks in the back.


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