In the summer of 2014, a 1954 Pontiac ambulance was for sale in Innisfil, Ontario and listed on Kijiji. What made this ambulance different than the hundreds of classic professional vehicles listed online was the blurry logo on the side of the ambulance. You could barely make out a medical crest with a simple white cross on a red shield with blue bars on either side. To our surprise and disbelief, the crest looked liked the Nova Scotia Ambulance Operators Association crest developed in 1969. After many phone calls and emails back and forth, we confirmed that this was the oldest still intact ambulance to work in Nova Scotia.
The next three years were spent figuring out how to move this large, non-running vehicle and get it to Nova Scotia. Many auto shipping companies only ship working cars and trucks, and even fewer will move classic cars.
We quickly learned that the most interested and economical haulers were often the shadiest. These auto movers used the vehicles to move drugs and other illegal items. After much frustration and delays, the ambulance finally made its way back to Nova Scotia to be restored and saved.
This Mayfair Blue and Winter White 1954 Pontiac Superior Chieftain five-door commercial ambulance would have rusted away in a grass field in rural Ontario without the support of local businesses like Tri-Star Industries, Gilby Construction, and Coulstrings Automotive & Small Engine Repair. But also would like to thank the many individuals along the way who contributed to protecting Nova Scotia EMS’s history and perverse it for future generations.
Beyond our Nova Scotia connection to this Pontiac ambulance, it’s unique in itself. This ambulance is so rare that only 800 were ever produced, and to our knowledge, there is only one other restored in North America.
This past fall, we removed the inline eight cylinders L-head 268 CID motor radiator with its three-speed manual column shift transmission and began rebuilding the engine and transmission. We look forward to reinstalling and experiencing the smooth running characteristics of the cruiser engine that Pontiac was famous for in the era of the straight-eight engine cars.