Willys Ambulances were built on various different chassis and engine combinations, and received their own serial number ranges starting in 1955 (see Willys-Overland Production Figures.)
The four-wheel-drive 6-226 Willys Ambulance (left) came with four stretchers, roof ventilator and folding rear step. The six-cylinder Super Hurricane engine was standard, and the four-cylinder Hurricane was optional. See a rear view (120K JPEG) from the Jeep Specialized Vehicles and Equipment catalogue.
See a Willys brochure (50K JPEG).The ambulance is also seen in use in the publication Jeeps in Public Service.
Photos of a 473-4WD ambulance (75K JPEG) in a Willys-Overland Export catalogue show a slightly different body with more headroom. Also included are specs (10K GIF.)
The factory 4x4 "Utility Ambulance" used the standard Sedan Delivery body with roof vent added, and brackets installed to support two standard army stretchers. See a Willys brochure (50K JPEG).
A rear view with doors open (90K JPEG) reveals the pretty spartan interior, although there was also a cushier "Deluxe" version based on the Station Wagon body with rear side windows. See more photos and specs of this and the 6-226 in the Jeep Specialized Vehicles and Equipment catalogue.
Harry van Oest, who is with the Dutch Red Cross, sent this photo of a fully restored Jeep field ambulance in their Historical Collection. He says, "Our vehicle was donated to H.M. Queen Juliana for the big flood in 1953; it was built in 1952." See also another photo (80K JPEG) of the truck in an outdoor display by the "Rode Kruis."
Another Willys Ambulance was donated by Willys to support agricultural reform in Cuba, at a 1959 training course in Havana (90K JPEG).
A step up in features was the "Willys S.O.S. Ambulance" built on a lengthened wheelbase by Shop of Siebert, "quality coach craftsmen since 1853." Siebert was located at 614 Southard Avenue in Toledo, and advertised this conversion as "America's most versatile low cost ambulance."
This illustration comes from a Siebert advertising sheet found by Bill Norris (see the full page ad (110K JPEG.)
This ambulance was built on a 1953 F134 4x4 truck chassis by W.S. Grice Motor Body Works in the Sydney suburb of Summer Hill, and purchased by Bourke District in NSW. They specialised in ambulances and hearses, producing ambulances on many different chassis from the late 1920's to the 1970's.
Paul McCurley provided this undated photo, and some background information: "Prior to 1972, ambulance services in the state were controlled by the NSW Ambulance Transport Service Board. If a region wanted to start an ambulance service in their community, they formed a district committee that was overseen by the Board, which in turn was overseen by the Department of Health. The District Committee was responsible for the operation of their own fleet of vehicles, including raising the funding for purchasing and maintaining the fleet. This led to a very wide variety of vehicles and conversions being used across the state.
"As an example of the diversity of vehicles in use, the Willys shared duties in the Bourke region with a Volkswagen (Transporter/Kombi), and a converted 1957 Holden station wagon. The Volkswagen was replaced in 1958 with another Holden, and one of the Holdens was soon replaced with a Ford Zephyr Utility (pickup), converted by the addition of bodywork over the pickup bed with a high roof and rear doors." (Note: Holden is an Australian auto manufacturer associated since 1931 with General Motors. See a 1958 Holden ambulance, 50K JPEG. See also Willys Military Ambulances for Holden's WWII jeep conversions for the US Marines.)
At the time the Bourke District Willys was built, it is believed to have been the only 4WD ambulance in operation in NSW, and was one of only seven similar models built by W.S. Grice. Ted Robinette took these photos of the vehicle as now owned and painted by Noelle and Eddy Reynolds of Melbourne, and he says, "Grice had a contract to build six for use in Malaysia, and the seventh was built for the Ambulance Service in NSW. They had heard of the Malaysian contract and needed a 4WD to negotiate the terrain 'back of Bourke'. It could carry five patients with three on stretchers and two sitting."
Note the recessed spare tire on the left side. See also a rear view photo (70K JPEG) of this unique vehicle, showing the extra door on the side behind the right-hand-driver's position.
Although Willys sold ambulances around the world through its export division, and right-hand-drive was offered as an option, Australia had the manufacturing capacity to build this kind of vehicle locally, allowing the units to be designed to local specifications.
Vaughn Becker says that most of the over one thousand 6-226 4x4 units produced by Willys in Brisbane, Australia from 1958-68 (see Jeeps in Australia) were in fact the cab/chassis version rather than the complete station wagon. An ambulance built on this platform is shown in this photo as delivered to Barcaldine Hospital in Queensland. It follows the general style of the U.S. factory version but has differences including a side entry door in the rear body.
Forward Control Jeeps were popular as fire and rescue vehicles in countries including Australia, Switzerland and the U.S., but for some reason FC ambulance conversions were less common. The only ones civilian examples we have run across are this "ambulanse" and another FC-170 van conversion (120K JPEG) as seen in The Jeep in Sweden by Stig Edqvist.
Thanks to all the contributors for the pictures, and to Paul Barry, and Old-Ambulances.com for the Holden photo. -- Derek Redmond
See Willys Military Ambulances and the Kaiser M725 Military Ambulance on The CJ3B Page.
See also EMS Jeep Toys.
Return to Fire Service Jeeps on The CJ3B Page.
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