EMS Classics is a feature column I write for Canadian Paramedicine.

It is my attempt at giving the younger generation who work in EMS today, a snapshot into the history of ambulance service.

If you are interested in purchasing the images or the text copyright to any of the columns please email me at

1959 Comet Buick 01, Neosho Falls KS

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1959 Comet Buick 02

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Column 20 June/July 2009

Junkyard Ambulances

Have you ever driven down a country road and seen an old classic ambulance "rusting in piece" in a junkyard or have you ever been told of an old barn that, legend has it, contains a couple of old ambulances? Well, just as there now are more Canadian EMS providers who are beginning to write their local ambulance history, there also are more who are rescuing and restoring these old car-based ambulances from the past. I personally know of about twenty Canadian EMS providers who use a classic ambulance at community events. In total, there likely are more than 50 restored classic ambulances in Canada if you include the ten in the Ontario Ambulance Museum as well as those owned by members of the Professional Car Society.

The restoration process for these old ambulances is as varied as the cars themselves. Some are relatively complete when found and only require the standard paint job, new tires, some mechanical and upholstery repairs - nothing ten or fifteen thousand dollars won't clear up. Others require more extensive work and a bigger restoration budget.

Searching on eBay is a good method of finding a classic ambulance (most are in the US). The car in the photo was found some years back in a junkyard in Neosho Falls, Kansas. It's a 1959 Buick and was converted into an ambulance by the Comet Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee. A car in this condition would be considered an excellent find as the glass hasn't been shot out and the lights and siren haven't been removed.

If you have a restored classic ambulance, send me a photo. If you know of a "junkyard" classic that might be for sale, let me know about it. No, I don't want to buy any more classic ambulances (I already have two - three if you count the parts car). I'm just keeping a list of Canadian EMS providers who are searching for one. That way, I can put the EMS providers in contact with the owners of the junkyard ambulances.

Happy junkyard hunting!

Copyright 2009 Peter Adsten