MoPar procars

Abe Bush

Moderator
Super Site Supporter
I've always been a big fan of MoPar procars. But some of my favorites were ambulances based on Chrysler Product station wagons. And I regret that I've never had pictures of some of these neat cars.

A bit unusal was the 1958 Chrysler New Yorker station wagon operated for only a couple of years by Ellis Funeral Home here in Midland. It was very plain-jane, even by ambulance standards back then, as it only had a single Jr. Beacon Ray light on top and a big B&M Siro-Drift siren on the rt. fender.

Thomas Funeral Home, also in Midland, added a very nice '57 Plymouth wagon to their ambulance fleet. Thomas' ambulances over the years were a bit more flamboyant than anything Ellis ever produced. The sad thing is that they didn't seem to understand vehicle electrical systems back then, such as dual batteries or high-output generators or alternators. This little Plymouth had a roof-mounted Q, to which the Thomas' cut out the "F" part of the Q grille and mounted an old truck-type stop light in the cavity. There were also four Unity red sealed beam lights, two on each side of the Q, and a Federal 17 beacon behind the Q. And to top it off, a Mars FL8 light on the right fender. The fatal mistake made by the Thomases was that they depended solely on the stock generator and battery on the car. They never understood why they had to put the battery charger on the car after every single ambulance run. On Easter Sunday of 1959, Midland's famous airshow was underway at the then-Midland Air Terminal. On standby at the airshow was Ellis Chrysler, and Thomas' then-new 1960 Ford sedan-delivery ambulance. That left the Thomas Plymouth and Ellis' first-out '59 Ford wagon.

About mid-afternoon a head-on collision occured near the airport entrance, and the two standby ambulances immediately responded. Ellis responded their Ford and their '59 Superior Cadillac combo from town, and Thomas responded the Plymouth. At that time just east of the airport a moderately steep hill existed that had to be climbed by westbound traffic. That climb was just too much for the little Plymouth, as the wiring to one pair of the Unity lights caught fire under the dash. And Thomas didn't have fire extinguishers in their vehicles, either. The crew from Ellis F.H. that was in the combo didn't transport, so on their way back to town, they stopped and helped put out the fire. There was no physical damage to the car, but they only ran the one set of red flashing lights thereafter.

And, one of the neatest MoPars I had the pleasure of working out of was a
'67 Dodge Polara ambulance that belonged to Baker Ambulance in Odessa. This ambulance was converted by the Gordon K. Allen Co. in Dallas and utilized their standard conversion, a roof-mounted Q flanked by four DoRay lollipops, two on each side of the siren, and a 17 beacon in the rear. Two brothers from Baker, Montana (hence the Baker name), Jim and Nate Cawley owned Baker Ambulance and each had their own ambulance, with the Dodge being Nate's. The Cawley brothers were go-getters in the ambulance business and were a bit ahead of their time, using c-collar and backboards when they weren't even required in Texas at the time. And they wasted no time when it came to responding. Prior to Nate's acquisiton of the Dodge, his unit had been a '65 Chevy Impala wagon, also a Gordon K. Allen Conversion. I went on a run in that Chevy with Nate on July 4, 1968, from a fatal MVA. We had three patients on board. I happened to look up to have Nate inform the ER about one of the patients and noticed that we were going over 100 mph and that was down a local in-town highway! Something similar happened on runs I made with Nate in the Dodge. As I said, these guys wasted no time. But sometimes they had dented fenders to prove it. To their credit, they had the first van ambulance in West Texas, which always got the comments!

I love these stories! I could read them for hours on end. Thanks so much for sharing!

Abe
 

Kurt Arends

Super Site Supporter
Super Site Supporter
Although I've never seen a photo of one, odds are there were. I've seen ACC ads featuring a '61 Plymouth and Dodge Amblewagons, but no others with raised roofs or that had been stretched. I'm sure there were several other wagon conversions, as seen here.

The full-size '61 Plymouths are my favorite MoPars.

(internet photos)

I love how they used the '61 Plymouth Fury tail light assemblies for tunnel lights on the rear roof(only the Furys and the Sport Suburbans had the chrome-plated housings)! Gotta love a guy that loves '61 Plymouths!!
 

Skip Goulet - Deceased 1945 - 2018

August 19, 1945 - July 26, 2018
Although I've never seen a photo of one, odds are there were. I've seen ACC ads featuring a '61 Plymouth and Dodge Amblewagons, but no others with raised roofs or that had been stretched. I'm sure there were several other wagon conversions, as seen here.

The full-size '61 Plymouths are my favorite MoPars.

(internet photos)

I've seen two ACC Plymouth Amblewagons. One was a '65 that belonged to the former Gold Star Ambulance in Clovis,NM. It had been taken out of service when I first saw it, so there were no lights or siren on board. The other was a '67 Plymouth Amblewagon from Littlefield, TX. It originally belonged to Hammons F.H. in Littlefield and then went to the city when the funeral home exited the ambulance business. It originally had a 17D on top and a 28 siren underhood; but when the city took it over, the beacon and 28 were removed and were replaced by a VisiBar with twin red beacons and a CP25 speaker powered by an Interceptor. In the late '70s, Lubbock's AID Ambulance ended up with the ambulance contract for Littlefield. They brought the Plymouth back to Lubbock for use as a transfer/first-call car. They sent a couple of their lowtop Ford vans to Littlefield, along with a 1971 Superior/Cadillac hightop ambulance. When the engine went on the Caddy, I was able to obtain the car for a whopping $250, and found an engine for
$300. One of our racecar drivers who had a small automotive garage did the engine swap at no charge. The only downside was that the car came w/o lights and sirens, except for the fore and aft tunnel lights. It had originally had triple 184 beacons up on the hightop along with a Q and twin CP25s mounted on the "hump" over the cab that contained the lighted "ambulance" sign. The car also had a Director to power the speakers. We went back with a Q we had with a pair of TS100 speakers (chrome speakers were much too costly then) which powered a Unity SiTron siren. And then we put twin red 17s on the front corners of the hightop and a blue Dietz 211 center rear. Made for a very nice rig and we got a good bit of service from it.

As to AID's '67 Plymouth, we tried to buy it when they retired it, but a young kid whose parents owned a local RV park offered AID twice what they had priced it to us for, so that was the end of that idea!
 
'57 National DeSoto.

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Jeremy D. Ledford

PCS Volunteer Chapter President
1964 880 Dodge wagon ambulance conversion.

Ex U.S.A.F. Lovelock AFB, Lovelock, Nevada.
Ex Lovelock Fire Dept. Lovelock, Nevada.
Current owner, Jim McNabb, Newport, Tennessee.

Jeremy D. Ledford photos.
 

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Skip Goulet - Deceased 1945 - 2018

August 19, 1945 - July 26, 2018
1964 880 Dodge wagon ambulance conversion.

Ex U.S.A.F. Lovelock AFB, Lovelock, Nevada.
Ex Lovelock Fire Dept. Lovelock, Nevada.
Current owner, Jim McNabb, Newport, Tennessee.

Jeremy D. Ledford photos.

Nice old wagon, Jeremy. I'd bet that it probably had the little EG siren under the hood like most of the government ambulances back then.

I ran across two nice old station wagon ambulances at the Texas Surprlus Properties office in Lubbock years ago, and our VFD was going to try and grab them, but they were gone when we went back to do the paperwork. The sirens and lights had been removed on both cars.

One was a '64 Ford wagon and the other was a '68 or '69 Plymouth wagon. The Plymouth came from the Air Force base in Clovis,NM, but I'm not sure about the Ford. I had seen the Plymouth run on emergency transfers from Clovis to Lubbock a number of times and had talked to one of the drivers, who commented on what a fast car it was. That would've made a nice response vehicle for us. I don't think either car was professionally converted. The Plymouth originally had a red 14 beacon on top and, unusual for military ambulances, a Federal Inteceptor. The Ford had been equipped with a 17 beacon on top and an EG underhood. I would've liked to have seen the Plymouth as a response unit and the Ford as a backup ambulance, since both were still legal at the time.
 

Steve Lichtman

PCS Elected Director 2019 - 2022
Site Supporter
Here is a photo from Jim Ireland (posted on Facebook), of a '60 Memphian Dodge from Molokai, Hawaii. Cool.
 

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John Royark JR

PCS Member
Here is a photo from Jim Ireland (posted on Facebook), of a '60 Memphian Dodge from Molokai, Hawaii. Cool.

I have a question about this coach builder. I know it was built by the Memphis coach company, but it seems they are always referred to as Memphians. Is this correct, or was Memphain actually a model name? Not trying to be starting something, I do not know and want to make sure Im saying it the correct way. For example would their literature say 1960 Memphian Dodge, or 1960 Memphis Dodge.
 

Steve Loftin

Active member
Memphis is the manufacturer, while Memphian is the model name.

As an example, this car is a 1959 Memphis/Dodge Memphian combination:
 

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