Classic DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945 www.classicdreamcars.com

       
                         
                                  



                                    



            
                                                          

              



                                                         
                     
ORIGINAL  MANUAL / NOTE: PUBLISH DATE & 'SUPERIOR COACH' MATCHBOOKS FOUND IN CAR / ORIG.SHOWROOM BROCHURE 1957 FORD F-100 BASE & DELUXE MODEL PANEL TRUCK REVEALS HOW 'CUSTOM' THIS AMBULANCE WAS    



  
             
MAGAZINE AD FEATURING SUPERIOR COACH CORP.AND MENTION OF THE BURLINGAME, CA. SUPERIOR DEALER OF 17 YEARS!                      

(Click On Photos To Enlarge)

ALL PHOTOS COPYWRITED

 

  1957 FORD F-100 'SUPERIOR OPTIONED' AMBULANCE 


Opening the door to collecting Professional Cars can be daunting as the people who garnish them are a serious lot, hung up on every detail so, this story may not be for you.
This is an amazing low-mileage example of a very rare "Professional Car" that was used exclusively as the primary Emergency Vehicle for Trauma Service in Scotia, California. Any serious injuries at the Pacific Lumber Company, CA. property from the Forest sites, Town, or Mill took a ride in this Bad Boy to the Scotia Medical Center or, the Hospital in Fortuna, Ca.  It was always stored indoors, on heat pads, ready for instant service. This vehicle, with the stringent Co. safety rules enforced there, saw minimal use resulting in ridiculous low 9,300 miles:
PALCO Firehouse, 1st Owner: 123 miles per year
from 1957-2000 ~
2nd Owner: 433 miles per yr. from 2000-2009
Scotia was the "Company Town" for PALCO (Pacific Lumber Co.), which has it's own interesting history as the classic American Logging Town harvesting over 200,000 acres of Forest. Located 246 miles North of San Francisco, it currently has a population of 800 residents (2010 census) and in it's heyday closer to 1,500. It is located on the chilly Eel River in Humboldt County ( area home, due to it's proximity to 'Hollywood',  of over 17 motion pictures since 1919). It survived through a name change from 'Forestville' in 1888, the Great Depression of the 30's, and two Earthquakes in 1992.  The Post Office was built in 1888 but, burned down in 1959, 2 years after this Ambulance was placed into service. It is a 'complete' Logger's Town with a Theatre (Winema), 2 Churches, Medical Center, Paint Shop, Laundry, Shopping Plaza (which also burnt to the ground 4/26/92), Community Rec. Center, Hotel /Bar (Scotia Inn), One Restaurant (Stafford Inn), Hoby's Market (where the fire started), a Fisheries Museum , School (thru 8th grade), 1st National Bank (since 1910), 274 2-4 Bedroom Homes, numerous old Saw Mills, Processing Plants and....
a 28 person Volunteer Fire Dept.
We have completely documented this Ambulances' use there and this 'story' behind it.

THE AMBULANCE COACH

What we have here is a true 9,200 mile, 57 year-old Emergency vehicle and it is in like-new condition. It, in fact, could be the lowest mileage Panel Delivery Chassis out there. The 2nd owner acquired it from the PALCO Corporation when they went Bankrupt  in 2000, and gave the Ambulance a kind, minimally needed frame-off restoration with it's first- paint-over-original,  slightly lowering the suspension. The vehicle is complete with  photo's, documentation, it's original Siren, Lights & Gurney, Medical Cabinets, Gurney lockdown Bar, Overhead Stretcher Bars, and some Emergency Gear.  We have since restored it further adding some Period correct items. After contacting several of the nation's Oldest Ford Dealers we have now uncovered this Coach was originally factory fit with the V.I.N. &Title Proven 272 "K" Code 'Medium Duty' OHV V8 ( not the typical 'Light-Duty' V8 normally installed in '57 Ford F-100 Trucks on this chassis).  We have replaced the m.i.a. Radio Communication System with a period correct, 2-way Motorola Radio, Mic & Speaker ("Roger Adam 12, Roger that"), plus period correct Emergency items, including Flare Kit, Oxygen Tanks, Revolving Dash Light and even a Crash Dummy (first used by Ford in 1955).  It carries Original paperwork history with the vehicle verification + the original WATER-SLIDE Decal fixed to the dash from the Superior Dealer w/ 2+5 digit phone number who sold it new.... (see pix of Superior factory ad showing this U.S. dealer)
"For Service ~ Superior Coach & Ambulance Sales Co.
1540 Old Bayshore Hwy. Burlingame, CA. Diamond-4 7651"

The jury's still out on the final who-what-why of the proven, stamped-in-concrete Coachbuilder but, we have spent 100's of man-hours delving into the history and researched the ties to Superior Coach, as well as, any other possible body builders including Siebert or Armbruster.  And, to date, have finally concluded that the most probable connection is that this could be a one-off or "Mule" by Superior (possibly the Pathfinder Division of Superior at the Kosciuscko. MS. factory or maybe the Lima, Ohio plant)
One of the equations you have to reconnoiter is that Pacific Lumber Co. was very wealthy. After logging for 115 years, by 1985 they had amassed a fortune.... a conservative reported estimate of $1 billion by the time the hostile stock takeover took place in 1986 (plus, $250mil for the Cutting/ Welding Division).
Bottom-line, PALCO was most likley 'connected' and could get most anything they wanted built- including this unique Ambulance.
We have contacted, or written, numerous Old Folks from the various Coach Builders, the original Fire Dept. Ambulance driver of 27 years (an employee of 35 years) and the Son of the 2nd owner , as well as, old-time residents in the Town of Scotia in our search for the 'facts'...a daunting task given the vehicle's, and the Coachbuilder workers age today (many deceased).  While it is quite obvious Superior was unable to supply a regular production, off-road vehicle for daily use, all evidence now points to the fact the CA. Superior dealer special ordered this Coach from Superior or, possibly a smaller company. The construction is exemplary leading us to believe it was Professionally Built.  We are now leaning towards the final conclusion this Coach was One of One Ford Ambulances produced like this , due to the exclusive equipment it was fitted with but, will continue our research at this juncture. Even in the light of the fact, Superior built Coaches in two different plants and led the market in "New Idea" production that year, it  is our mission on these old Pro Cars, to lock-in the History of each custom-built Coach. Especially, since after 57+ years sometimes I.D. tags have been lost (this Coach retains it's original FoMoCo VIN tag). Our research does show the original owner's employees ( PALCO; Pacific Lumber Co.), witnessed all original records totally destroyed by the new owner, which has made this mission more difficult.

The Evidence Gathered to date is:

Superior Coach Builder's were one of the Very the First to use Hi-Top Rooflines and Fiberglass components on their Coaches starting with the Super & Super Rescuer Ambulances. They also built the Pontiac 'Pathfinder' Ambulance $475 cheaper than any other Ambulance in the lineup. However, logically, it would have been Siebert / National who built UNIQUE Emergency Trucks,  almost entirely on the FORD Panel Truck Chassis. Siebert would strip the cab of any Ford badges, replacing with the Siebert script but, we also found on further research that, by 1956, they were installing one-piece, fiberglass rear doors on all their product (not the two-rear-doors seen here). By the late 50's they were also offering Fiberglass Hi-Tops. While conversely Armbruster  & Zephyr started using Chevrolet's by 1956,  earlier Miller Coaches used sidelight windows like seen on this Coach, Amblewagon & Weller exclusively used Ford Station Wagons. By that same time, Memphis Coach converted to Desoto's & Chevys (and an Edsel). Franklin Coach did Dodges and Springfield only converted International Travelalls, That leaves Christopher Coach who exclusively built on the GMC w/ a few on Chevy chassis. More importantly to note our recent discovery: this Coach was built in the last week of  June, 1957 production year with the FOMOCO factory (not Superior) installing a Custom Ordered a FORD 'K' Code : "Medium Duty" V8** not the typical Light Duty  V8 or 6 Cylinder offered by FoMoCo. This is proven by both Title & recorded VIN  plate). Rock solid proof, someone was 'connected' to get this custom order accomplished.

 At this point in time Superior Coach Builders primarily used Cadillacs / Pontiacs, out of the -then- brand new Plant in Kosciusko, Miss. or, from the old plant in Lima, Ohio.  Worth noting also, '1957' was the year of experimentation with new ideas as Superior's engineers, especially at the Kosciusko Plant, were diligently watching Funeral Directors and Ambulance Companies Nationwide purchase a wide variety of vehicles to 'get the job done' to include Station Wagons, and Sedan Deliveries for Service Cars (including Exports). This, due in part, to the elimination of all 7 Pass. Sedans by the vast majority of Car Manufacturers that year. Lets not forget , when looking into the future, Superior also made the First Ambulances on a Ford Econoline Chassis just a few years after this Coach was built ( as well as a Chevrolet Van with OPTIONAL Fender Skirts). This might help explain why "Superior Coach" Ambulance parts were used throughout the build of this Coach. The entire rear Coach is custom made of Metal AND Fiberglass!
 Interesting footnote: We found an original "Superior Coach" Match Cover hidden within the recesses on the body.


This Ambulance is fit with period-correct , Oval Shaped, Superior Brand Lighting and  Metal Emergency 'Tunnel Lights' direct from the Superior Manufacturing Plant (highly unlikely Superior would allow another Coach Builder to use it's products or, that another manufacturer would use theirs). Even the unique Stimsonite tail lamps were factory fit , moved from the usual position behind the doors, to the top of the Coach allowing the sequential Flashing lights to be seen when the doors were in the 'open' position. The Panel Van Top is custom-designed in metal as a 'Hi-Top", allowing extra headroom for patients and attendant. The Custom , factory fit, Side-glass Cross (originally etched in Silver & Goldleaf) framed in custom-made fiberglass frames and Cabinetry do not 'exactly' match ANY original brochures of ANY other of these folks we have found. Yet, this vehicle still has the 'look' and styling of a Superior.  We have photographs of this car 'in use' new proving what you see is what we got. It was not altered later during it's life. The Suspension was lowered in 2002 but, the body itself remains exactly the way it was in 1957. The Commercial Diamond Plate F &R Black Bumpers were removed and replaced with Chrome by the 2nd owner and are still available.
The storage cabinets, and floor which are original & in excellent condition (with built-in bench seats for EMS Attendants and any passengers), are constructed in the exact period style. This vehicle was built  to function (quote), "dependably engaging, in a limited space and on 'less-then-passable' log-mining roads". Those roads were commonly known to attract the suspension of the traditional Ambulance, like a magnet.....leaving the car stuck or parts left lodged in the dirt. Not exactly desirable in an Emergency "Run".  We were told this vehicle would meet "Crummies" (H.D. 4wd Trucks) at "Landings" throughout the sites where the crew would have First Aid Boxes and Stretchers in place, ready to meet the Ambulance with any victims. This vehicle would then make 'the run' to the Hospital or Clinic. It is also entirely possible this very Ambulance carried it's benefactor, Stanwood A Murphy (CEO of Palco), to the Hospital after he succumbed to a heart attack in 1972 at the home of one of Scotia's company employees. . A fascinating history....

The 1957 Ford Trucks featured :

"Functional Purpose Engineering" with a new , improved, restyled Truck. To put this into perspective: it was Ford's 40th Anniversary and, entrepreneur Lee Iacocca was President of the Ford Truck Division.  FoMoCo bragged on $7 million spent on Design and another $5 mil on 'extra development'. To celebrate , they offered 300 different model trucks that year but, only built 711  Custom Deluxe Panel Truck versions. Important to note: Ford themselves stopped making Ambulances in 1940 and production on Ford trucks didn't start until feb.1,1957!   The flat-wrap-around' hood had ribs stamped into it's center while 10 paint colors were Standard. The Deluxe Model option offered the fancy version of the F-100 with "Custom Chrome" Emblems, Heavy Duty Springs, a Fully Insulated Interior, a Perforated Headliner, and the Cabin Walls were lined with "Masonite" on an 8ft. capacity Cargo Area (Incidentally, Ford touted "11ft. " of length with Pass. seat removed!).
Most of the Deluxe "Five Star Extra Cab' Features included ; Chrome Missile-Style Ornaments on the sides of the hood, Bright Metal Grille, 2-tone Upholstery, Dual Sun Visors, Armrest, Door Locks, Parking Light Chrome, and Chrome Windshield Surround.  Options beyond that included "Spiraline Bucket Seats", 'Magic Aire' Heater/ Defroster, Tinted Glass, Twin Horns, Fire Extinguisher (oh, yeh) w/ Fixing Bracket, Heavy Duty Fan, WWW Tires, Electric Windshield Wipers, Chrome Hubcaps & Bumpers, Tow hooks, Seatbelts, Outside Mirrors, Wheel Trim Rings, Dome Light & Door Switches, Polar-Aire Air Conditioning, Lifeguard Padded Dash & Steering Wheel, Deluxe Door Trim, Extra Insulation, Radio Delete, Illuminated CIGAR Lighter (not 'Cigarette' lighter), H-D 3 Speed Transmission, a 4:09 rear Axle and a Grille Guard. The Coachbuilder bought a little extra room by eliminating the Partition between the front seats and rear cabin and, it should be noted,  the Passenger Seat is removable..
So, what we have discovered here is a collector's dream - not only a piece of Scotia's History but, a true Custom-made Ambulance.

What's left of the old PALCO Corporation is now rumored to be selling off the Company lots with Homes on the Scotia hillside...so, it's looking like it might be the End of Pleasantville (or, Forestville) and the loss of yet another chunk of what made America so great.
This Ambulance was the Scotia Fire Department's, and it's next owner's 'proud baby'.
Now she's come to live in our care and ownership at the Mount Dora Museum of Speed
On display for your enjoyment  ~Now Offered For Sale @ $62,500 Offered For Sale @$62,500

Long May Her Siren Wail...... 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

ROBBIE CURRIER (IN MEMORIAM), RICK CURRIER, THE PRIMARY AMBULANCE DRIVER OF THIS COACH FOR 27+ YEARS  BUT, ESPECIALLY RICK CURRIER WHO LEAD THE SCOTIA RESEARCH TEAM. ALSO  RESOURCES: COACHBUILT.COM, PHANTOM COACH .COM (LIBRARY)., P.C.S. MEMBERS, TOM MCPHERSON'S 'AMERICAN FUNERAL CARS AND AMBULANCES', ** INFO SUPPLIED BY THE NATION'S OLDEST FORD DEALERS FROM ORIGINAL 1957 FOMOCO DEALER MANUALS , WALTER McCALL'S 'AMERICAN AMBULANCE', AND 'ILLUSTRATED HISTORY FOR AMBULANCES'.

 

 

ACTUAL PHOTO OF THIS COACH DELIVERED NEW AT THE FIREHOUSE

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   THE COMMUNITY THEATRE                       SCOTIA SHOPPING CENTER                                THE SCOTIA INN HOTEL                        THE TYPICAL 'PALCO' COMPANY HOUSE  

 
     


                                 GETTING ROLLING IN A LOGGING TRUCK         AERIAL VIEW OF
PALCO MILLS

                                                                              

                                                                                   ORIGINAL FIREHOUSE PIX -AMB. IS BEHIND DOOR            POST OFFICE DEDICATION            COLOR POSTCARD OF PALCO MILLS               AERIAL VIEW PACIFIC LUMBER CO. MILLS

 CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

COMMERCIAL AMBULANCES, LIKE THIS ONE, ALSO MADE BY ARMBRUSTER, SIEBERT, & MEMPHIS COACH, WERE USED IN MANY HOLLYWOOD MOVIES AND TV SHOWS INCLUDING:

"HAZEL" TV SHOW 1961                    "PERRY MASON" TV SHOW 1955

"THE BIG COMBO" 1955                    "STAKEOUT ON DOPE STREET" 1958 

"CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN" 1955          "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" TV SHOW 1966

"THE MONEY TRAP" 1965                    " REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE" 1955

"JAILHOUSE ROCK" 1957                    "SEAHUNT" TV SHOW" 1958

"A TICKLISH AFFAIR" 1967                    "COLUMBO" TV SHOW 1971

"DARK SHADOWS" MOVIE 2012