About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jan 9: Ambulance chasing

Always parked outside of our resort in the Dominican over Christmas, was a fairly new and well equipped Toyota Sienna ambulance. Now I ask you, would this make you wonder why and give you added confidence in your accommodations? Something about the food? Anyway, no issues arose. Returning to Toronto, I had to go into hospital, this past week for major surgery (you really wanted to know?), so these things got me to thinking about ambulances (it doesn't take much).

 This York Regional one, from just outside Toronto is typical of the van based EMS vehicles that rush to our aid and us to hospital if necessary.........

While other areas, like Montreal, prefer the big bruisers, like this one, to make sure that we get that aid quickly and well.........

But years ago, it wasn't always like this, as car based ambulances were the norm. Sure, any car could be converted to ferry patients, but the best ones, in my opinion, were the elegant luxury car based units. Would you care, if you lived or died, as long as they picked you up in this Packard?

Or this big, impressive, monster of a Cadillac.........

But other than the local community's prestige, were these really the best use of a station wagon or a large luxury sedan? Probably not. In fact, some governments started to legislate the type of vehicle and their requirements for its "passengers". This is an early example from International.......

............but more common were the van based units, which morphed over the years into the ones we typically see today, like York Regional's at the start of this blog. But all sorts of additional specialty vehicles also performed these tasks. Locally, we have several sport utes, as well as some bus units, like this one......

One stop shopping?

Now, if you have been the least bit aware of the North American truck market, you'll have read that the traditional domestic delivery van is disappearing, in fact only the Chev and GMC versions are all that remain. So since many ambulances have been based on these chassis, the ambulance will one again have to go thru a major change. Here is a European example........

............based on the Mercedes Sprinter. But, Ford has always been a big supplier, so expect a version like this to show up shortly, although with the raised roof.........

As you can see, this one is a sample built by Ford to show how effective their Transit would be.

So stay tuned and watch for your local EMS unit, to see what they will come up with, to once again replace "tradition". And in case you were wondering, my surgery went very well (thanks for asking).

Until next time.........


  1. Hi Barry. Glad your surgery went well. I just had a session with the knife gang but am back to work with the same (low) enthusiasm I had before.

    This topic is very interesting; I well remember the converted station wagons, suburbans and vans over the years. Our car club has been restoring a '48 Chrysler ambulance that is based on a limo chassis/body with one removable post. It's been quite a project to say the least.

    My work place maintains (2) fleets of emergency vehicles which both include at least (8) typical I-ton ambulances. I don't know if production will discontinue anytime soon as there are (4) new ones that we recently completed inspections on, and the battalion commander told me that they're replacing the remaining units over the next few years. I have to shudder to think of the possibility of MBs replacing them; not because of the vehicles themselves, but because of the additional tooling we'll have to get.

    1. George, as always thanks for your comments. I like vehicles like ambulances and hearses, since they are unique and you can see some interesting versions. From your prospective, I can see the issues with major changes (life, eh?).