Emergency! If you want to own this rare, super cool 1955 Ford Courier National Ambulette, you’d better act soon. It could get the call from its next owner at any moment.
Available as of this writing on Craigslist in Salem, Oregon, for $16,500, the ambulance rolled off the Ford assembly line as a ’55 sedan delivery and was immediately shipped to the National Body Manufacturing Company, which operated in Knightstown, Indiana, from 1946–68. (It later become National Custom Coaches before closing in 1978.)
National installed the Courier’s custom interior, side windows, and air extractors, along with safety equipment and other features required for an emergency vehicle. According to the listing, standard wheelbase two-door ambulance conversions like this one are rare, and our research found that to be true. According to coachbuilt.com, Chevrolet and Pontiac conversions were the most common, although Ambulettes “were also built using Ford sedan deliveries.”
Advertising from the early 1950s focused on Chevrolet and explained what National offered:
“When converting a Chevrolet Sedan Delivery, furnished to us by customer, into a NATIONAL Combination Hearse & Ambulance, we extend the unit 30” and install 43” doors on each side, build in one recessed attendant’s seat, furnish shades, cot holder, choice of removable casket table or turn-over rollers in regular floor, medicine cabinets in partition, sliding glass in partition, safety glass throughout, dome lights in front and rear compartments, blue or red leatherette trim, Armstrong inlaid linoleum on floor, tire compartment under floor on left side, and unit painted to suit customer. Cost of conversion $1995.” (Today, that’s $19,000–$20,000 above the cost of the vehicle.)
The Ford Ambulette on Craigslist—which caught our eye on BarnFinds.com—has 55,000 miles on the clock, and the seller says it is unrestored beyond some floorpan repairs. The sedan carries a Y-Block 272-cub-inch V-8 engine, mated to a Borg Warner three-speed gearbox and Dana 44 rear, and retains its functional emergency lights and siren. The front passenger seat swivels to face rear, the rear jump seat folds flat into deck, and there is a storage area under the floor.
The Ambulette has St. Marie’s Extraction-Rescue on the sides, although one section of it had to be repainted on the driver’s side. The owner says the sedan “apparently sat indoors from shortly after St. Marie’s (Idaho) retired it in 1991 until about two years ago, shortly before I acquired it. Service records (date) back to the 1960s.”
He used the Ford as his daily driver for more than a year without issue, and he’s already mourning the loss of this unique and historic ride, but c’est la vie. “I honestly can’t believe I’m considering selling this; it’s been more fun than any other car I’ve ever owned (and I’ve had some cool stuff). It’s impossible not to have a giant grin when tooling through traffic in this thing. Not a ride for the introverted.”