STERLING, Virginia (NBC Washington) – An ambulance thought lost to history has been resurrected thanks to the passion of one local man and a team of experts at Sterling Hot Rods.
The one-of-a-kind Packard ambulance was first donated to the Detroit Fire Department back in 1927 by a local philanthropist, where it was used for about 30 years. Many assumed the ambulance was scrapped after it outlived its usefulness.
But in 1974, Brant “Doc” Vitek discovered the rusted ambulance at a Pennsylvania car show for $2,000.
He bought it, always expecting to bring back the vehicle’s grandeur, but the ambulance languished for another half-century.
Finally, Vitek found some help in 2016.
After three years of work, Sterling Hot Rods helped refurbish the ambulance — and they even made it driveable.
Tom Sweeten, who helped lead the repair process, was emotional thinking about how happy the project made Vitek.
I’ll never forget when I first started and the smile on his face,” Sweeten told News4. “He was a really happy guy.”
Despite years of disuse, the ambulance still has its original fenders, wheels, bumpers, steering wheel, dashboard and more.
Retired Detroit firefighter Cheryl Fox now tracks the history of the department, and she was shocked to find out the ambulance still exists.
“I was literally jumping up and down like a kid I was so excited,” Fox said. “It’s such a unique piece of Detroit fire history.”
Vitek plans to take the ambulance to car shows now that it’s running again.
As for how much it cost?
“I wouldn’t want to say because my wife is probably gonna see this,” he said