1920s ambulance thought lost gets refurbished

The 1927 ambulance was thought to have been scrapped after about 30 years of use at the Detroit Fire Department, but was later found at a car show

By EMS1 Staff

DETROIT — A unique ambulance from the 1920s that was thought to be lost was refurbished to its original glory.

The Packard ambulance was donated to the Detroit Fire Department in 1927 and used for about 30 years. After it became no longer useful, it was thought to have been scrapped, NBC Washington reported.

However, Brant Vitek discovered the rusted ambulance back in 1974 at a Pennsylvania car show and purchased it for $2,000 with the plan of restoring it.

The ambulance sat in disrepair for 42 years until Vitek found help through Sterling Hot Rods in 2016. Over a three-year period, the company refurbished the ambulance, which still has the original fenders, wheels, bumpers, steering wheel and dashboard. The old rig was even made drivable once again.


NBC Washington was at the shop today doing a nice story on the 1927 Packard we restored with our customer. Probably airs tonight at 5 or 6

Posted by Sterling Hot Rods on Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tom Sweeten, who led the project, said he’ll “never forget” how happy the ambulance made Vitek.

"I'll never forget when I first started and the smile on his face," Sweeten said. "He was a really happy guy."

Retired Detroit firefighter Cheryl Fox, who tracks the department’s history, said she was shocked to discover the ambulance was still in existence.

"I was literally jumping up and down like a kid I was so excited," she said. "It's such a unique piece of Detroit fire history."

Vitek plans to show the ambulance at car shows, but he’s not revealing how much the repairs cost.

"I wouldn't want to say because my wife is probably gonna see this," he said.


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