Alphabetical Index|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z


quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

Automotive Conversion Corp.; A.C.C.; Amblewagonl
Automotive Conversion Corporation, 1955-1965; Birmingham, Michigan; 1965-1979; Troy, Michigan; 1960-1970; Port Credit, Ontario, Canada
Associated Builders

Automotive Conversion Corp. was a small Michigan coachbuilder who specialized in the conversion of standard wheelbase station wagons and vans into ambulances and funeral cars. Their best known slogan: “The Amblewagon is a genuine Ambulance!". 

Initially the Amblewagon conversion consisted of a standard Ford or Mercury station wagon ordered with beefier steering and suspension that was fitted with a Ford Courier one-piece tailgate and outfitted with custom-built interior cabinets (covered with matching vinyl), a collapsible gurney, grill or roof-mounted warning lights and beacon, a siren, head light flashers, removable frosted Plexiglas inserts with a cross etched into them, plus shades for the rear doors.  All of the extras were held in place by a combination of wing nuts and spring clips and could be removed, converting the vehicle back into a stock-appearing station wagon in under five minutes.

Ford's redesigned wagons and sedan deliveries (aka Ford Courier) featured a new tailgate design which prompted ACC to introduce a new rear door in 1957. The donor vehicles were ordered by the customer through an authorized Ford dealer. The only necessities were the inclusion of a 9-passenger middle seat and the deletion of the tail and lift gate. Once the vehicles arrived in Birmingham/Troy, an ACC-built extra-large side-hinged one-piece fiberglass rear door was installed allowing 3 1/2" to 5" more entrance headroom than the original tailgate. Also included were all of the emergency vehicle extras that were included on previous year's Amblewagons.

From 1957 through 1958 the Amblewagon modification was made available in three versions: service car, ambulance and combination car. The price varied depending on the equipment, but a full-featured ambulance conversion could be done for $1,000. Also new in 1957 was the availability of the Amblewagon conversion on Ford's new Edsel Station Wagon. Through 1959, the Amblewagon could be built on an Edsel Villager, Roundup or Bermuda platform as well as any of the Ford or Mercury wagons. The rarest and most desirable Amblewagon is the 1957-1959 Edsel conversion. It is unknown how many Edsel-Amblewagons were built, but several 1958-59 examples still survive. Even after the introduction of the Arlington, Amblewagons could still be outfitted as a combination car with equipment included for both graveside and rescue duty.  

Compared with the cost of a new full-sized ambulance ACC's Amblewagon conversion was a real bargain. Small-town rescue squads could finally afford their own dedicated ambulance instead of relying on their local funeral directors for accidents and patient transports.  The price was attractive for established ambulance services and fire departments as well. The decreased fuel, tire, and maintenance costs of the station wagon-based Amblewagon enabled more frequent vehicle replacements when as well.

Starting in 1960, ACC's custom-built one-piece rear tailgate was abandoned in favor of the stock units in order to save the customer even more money. ACC advertised Amblewagon conversions on Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Mercury, Plymouth, Chrysler and Dodge chassis as well as a specially-marketed version called the Rambulance that was marketed by American Motors. 

Starting in 1961 ACC also offered Amblewagon conversions on both Ford's new forward-control Econoline Station Bus and on Chevrolet's new forward-control, rear-engined Corvair Greenbriar van.

ACC offered their Amblewagon conversions through 1978 but the 1973 EMS Systems Act* eliminated the possibility of any passenger car-based ambulances beyond 1977 so wagon-based Amblewagons soon became extinct.

Arlington (1958-1979)

Using the same principles they pioneered in the Amblewagon, ACC introduced the Arlington Funeral Coach to the funeral trade in 1958. Built using the same fiberglass rear door used on the Amblewagon, the Arlington conversion consisted of removable landau bar-equipped rear window inserts, airline-style rear window drapes, a small cabinet and a removable casket table with integral bier-pins and rollers. Designed as a multipurpose funeral vehicle, ACC advertised that the Arlington could be used as a first-call car, a  pallbearer's coach, and a flower car. Like the Amblewagon, the Arlington was also available as a combination car with equipment included for both graveside and rescue duty.    

ACC returned to using stock rear tailgates in 1960, a decision that benefited the funeral industry as they now had a built-in casket table extension to help load caskets and shipping boxes. Most customers wouldn't pay full-sized fees for a "station wagon" to transport their loved ones to the graveside so Arlingtons were more often than not used for first-call and flower car duties.

As with the Amblewagon, the Arlington could be converted to a stock-appearing passenger vehicle within 5 minutes. Later Arlingtons were also available in a non-transformable edition with landau bars and a permanent padded roof covering the rear quarter windows and extending across the roof. ACC offered the Arlington conversion up until 1979 when the firm closed its doors for good.

Rescu-All (1958-1979)

Automotive Conversion Corp. introduced the Suburban-based Rescu-All in late 1958. Available on both long- and short-wheelbase Chevrolet and GMC Suburbans, the vehicle was well-equipped for rescue duty and included a full complement of warning lights, a beacon, a siren, head light flashers, medical cabinetry, an attendant's seat, a full-size collapsible stretcher and frosted plexiglass rear window inserts, just like the wagon-based Amblewagons. 

The Rescu-All continued to be built using Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and GMC vans and Suburbans until the firm's demise in 1979.

Dodge & Plymouth A/FX Racecar (1965)

Drag Racing fans may also be familiar with the Automotive Conversion Corp. as well. In 1965 they modified twelve 2-door sedans  into special light-weight drag racers for the Chrysler Corp. They were built to compete in a special NHRA Factory Experimental (A/FX) class that debuted in 1965. 12 factory A/FX Hemi-powered Chrysler racecars were built; 6 Dodge Coronets and 6 Plymouth Belvederes. 

The bare bodies were acid dipped, reducing total body weight by 200 lbs. then shipped to the ACC plant, which by now had moved to Troy, Michigan. Once at ACC, the vehicles front wheels were moved 10" forward by installing a new lower sub-frame assembly and fabricating new inner and outer front fenders. 

The rear axle was relocated forward by 15" necessitating sectioning the floorpan and fabricating new rear wheel tubs. The wheel openings were cut-out (sectioned) and moved forward 15" as well with the resulting hole patched with new sheet metal. A roll cage was installed and both stock doors were replaced by fiberglass replicas with Plexiglas windows.  A fiberglass hood with integral air scoop plus a fiberglass trunk lid were fitted in place of the steel originals. Fiberglass replicas were also fabricated for the front bumper and the dashboard.

The 500hp hemi engine and drivetrain was taken from existing A990 F/X factory racers and the resulting racer weighed only 2800 lbs. and turned 140-mph quarter-mile  times in the high 9s. Not surprisingly, Ford and Chevrolet soon produced similar vehicles. The 1965 A/FX Ford Mustangs and Comets were built by Holman & Moody.

Some Drag racing historians consider these A/FX racecars to be the first Funny Cars, as their altered wheelbase and body made them look "Funny".  Not surprisingly there are quite a few A/FX cars around today claiming to be original. Some are, but most are replicas - some dating from the 1960s but most a little more recent in origin.

*(The 1973 EMS Systems Act - passed in 1974, implemented four years later in 1978 - required that communities receiving federal funds for their programs had ambulances that met new federal specifications. Three chassis styles meet the criteria and are still in use today: Type I uses a small truck body with a modular compartment, Type II has a van body with a raised roof and Type III has van chassis with a modular compartment. Passenger-based vehicles were purposely excluded from legislation and the last American-made automobile-based ambulance was built in 1978. However a handful of automobile-based ambulances are still made in Europe using Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S-60/S-80 chassis.)

© 2004 Mark Theobald -





1958 Edsel Amblewagon

Amblewagon;  Old Cars Weekly October 10th, 2002

Amblewagon #1 - Greenbriar Ambulance - CORSA Communique February 1992

The Professional Car, Issue # 51, First Quarter 1989

The Professional Car, Issue #104 Second Quarter 2002

George H. Dammann - Illustrated History of Ford

George H Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

Extended Auto Warranties
Are you paying too much? Make sure your auto warranty covers your entire vehicle.

Car Shows
State by State directory of car shows; includes new car shows and classic auto events.

Auto Buying Guide
Paying too much? Use this step by step guide to help get the best deal on your next car.

Car Books, Models & Diecasts
Your one stop shop for automotive books, models, die-casts & collectibles.


Submit Pictures or Information

Original sources of information are given when available. Additional pictures, information and corrections are most welcome.

Click Here to submit pictures or information

Pictures Continued

1958 Edsel Amblewagon

1959 Edsel Amblewagon


quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

© 2004-2012, Inc.|books|disclaimer|index|privacy