A few words on why I ended up with this one. I’ve always thought an ambulance would make a great platform for a camper. Several years ago I climbed all over one and decided it wasn’t worth raising the roof. It was about 4″ shorter than I was and would have been a considerable amount of work to raise or cap. That combined with the lack of load capacity and relatively small space made me keep looking.
Recently, when I decided the Firstroamer wasn’t big enough the search was on again. The leading contenders were the large European expedition trucks and the Fuso. I was leaning towards the Fuso when we had to get towed in my friends sprinter van. The driver showed up in a Medium duty Chevy C4500. We rode in the back of the crew cab and were duly impressed. The size scared me until I realized they have many different wheel bases. First I started looking at putting a total composites box onto the back of the chevy. It didn’t take long to stumble upon the C4500 ambulance. And when I say stumble I mean about a hundred hours of sitting in a dark corner staring at a screen.
It took another couple months for the right one to come along. I had a list of about 20 used ambulance sites to peruse daily. When I found this one it only took two hours before I had money down on it.
Now onto some specifics. Rather than talk about why I chose this over another platform I’d rather just list some features. The truck was originally purchased by Yellowstone National Park. I purchase it with less than 15,000 miles on the odometer. No, it hasn’t turned over, this truck is like new. It has a duramax engine that puts out 300hp, allison 6 speed automatic transmission, 4 wheel disc brakes, power windows, door locks, and mirrors. Heated mirrors, cruise control, exhaust brake (turbo vanes), air ride seats and is actually quiet inside. It’s four wheel drive with great gearing and at least one limited slip axle. It has locking hubs which is both good and bad. Good because it helps with the fuel mileage (11.81 from Houston to Tucson) and bad because I use 4×4 a lot and don’t want to get out all the time to lock them in/out.
The truck is powerful and comfortable to drive. The transmission is a wonder. I especially like how it slowly downshifts when I let off the gas coming up to a light. You barely need to touch the brakes. Now onto the box. It has a pass through but no step. It’s only about 4 feet tall, but sure beats a crawl through. It’s very high quality and the wiring is top notch. Built in storage everywhere. There is rear heat and a/c, an inverter, powered vent, fan, lights everywhere, and plenty of built in cabinetry if one wants to use it. There are many other options like back up camera, 50 gallon fuel tank, rear air suspension, but I can see myself starting to ramble so lets move on.
A little History
Back in the day I had a custom shell built and mounted onto the back of my chevy blazer. I ended up with an underpowered, poor handling, strange looking creation. And I loved every bit of building and using it.
Ideas, thoughts, and first impressions
I’ve always wanted to build another. Not rebuild, but do the whole inside exactly how I want. That time has finally come. I find myself in the position of having both time and budget.
I’m planning a higher end build with all electric except for an espar heater. The layout will be raised bed in the back, corner dinette, 4′ counter, shower and toilet in the pass through.
Here’s what I’ve got on sketchup so far.
Here’s some inspiration that started it all. It’s from orangework.de If I can make mine look anything like that I’ll be a happy camper.