I first learned of Model T Ford ambulances while visiting the Collings Foundation in Stowe, Massachusetts. They had a Model TT that had been used in the filming of the movie The Razor's Edge, The lettering on the ambulance made reference to the American Ambulance Service. My research began and I uncovered the story of1,200 Model T's donated to the American Field Service between 1914 and 1917.
I researched the American Field Service for three years and at some point, I realized that this story must be told. I decided that the best way to tell the story of the ambulances was to build one so that is what we set about doing.
I knew that to make this project worthy of the effort, I had to build it a closely as possible to the original. I decided that I would build a 1916 ambulance as these best told the story. Since I was in the business of restoring Model T Ford, that acquisition of parts was relatively easy. Some rare parts, such as the front end oilers which have never been reproduce, were provided by other car collector. The result was completely accurate 1916 Model T Ford chassis and drive train like the one shipped to France early in 1916.
My three years of research culminated in a trip to France to see the only existing original ambulance of the American Field Service. While there, I acquired as set of drawings of the ambulance bodies. The 116 sheets were drawn from the original ambulance.
From the letters home from Abram Piatt Andrew, inspector general of the AFS, I learned that the bodies were constructed of mahogany. Further research revealed a photograph of the original bodies being constructed at the carriage works of George Keller et ses Fils at Billancourt, France. These photographs were analyzed by two dendrology experts who concluded that the would used in the bodies was African Mahogany from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) . We used the same material in the construction of Ambulance 255.