photos and text by Paul Steinberg • See our main ambulance page
This 1963 Chrysler New Yorker ambulance was made by the Pinner Coach Company of Victoria, Mississippi. It is one of a very few survivors of their conversions of passenger cars to professional automobiles, possibly the only one, possibly one of two.
This vehicle was a special-ordered ambulance that was purchased from Community Garage of Rhinebeck, Inc. It was ordered January 12, 1963, and Chrysler Corporation produced the vehicle sometime in March 1963. From there it was shipped to the Pinner Coach factory for conversion; it was shipped to Community Garage by the end of May 1963 but didn’t enter service until October 20, 1963.
The vehicle started life as a 4 door sedan New Yorker, set up in a way similar to cars with the police enforcer package. It has the optional 15" wheels with special vented wheel covers to assist in brake cooling, heavy duty radiator, dual snorkel air cleaner, limited slip differential, Leece Neville 14 volt, 60 ampere alternator, and the New Yorker’s standard 413 cubic inch engine with a push button TorqueFlite automatic transmission. (Current owner Nicholas Studer wrote that the data plate indicates it is not a police car, and that nearby towns, Amenia and Millerton, used 1966 and 1967 Pinners based on Chryslers).
Both the front and rear doors were cut vertically, and lengthened, and the top of the door frames were also raised about 2 1/2". The overall car was lengthened a total of 24", by cutting the car in half under the front seat. The original roof was totally removed, and a higher roof section was fabricated and installed. The interior sections of the rear seat area were completely removed, to accommodate a flat floor from the bulkhead rearward. The original grey driver’s compartment interior was totally replaced with a red and white pleated seat and custom-made door panels.
The original 6 leaf springs in the rear suspension were built up with an additional 4 leaves to accommodate the extra weight. The vehicle has a curb weight of approximately 7500 pounds and is all-steel construction; the base Chrysler New Yorker sedan, complete with standard 413 cubic inch V8 and automatic transmission, was a mere 3,910 pounds.
The Chrysler New Yorker ambulance was, surprisingly, not originally a wagon; the data tag declares it to be a four door sedan. The doors are around an inch longer than standard two-door sedan doors, and the side glass was custom made, with only the windshield coming from Chrysler.
The ambulance originally cost $10,492 as sold; the 1963 Chrysler New Yorker, one step removed from the top of the line (300J), ran $3,981, with the 413 and automatic. Just 14,884 of these were produced, according to the Standard Catalog of Chrysler. The cost of the conversion is unknown, since we don’t know the cost of the various options on this particular model; but we can estimate that it would be roughly $5,500 to $6,000, and would certainly be more than the cost of the vehicle itself (not surprising given the amount of fabrication involved).
It was retired in 1988 with 19,200 miles on the odometer, and sold to a former member of the fire department who stored the car until December 2008, when Paul Steinberg purchased it.
Pinner itself was, according to Mark Theobald at Coachbuilt.com, descended from the Comet Coach Company. In 1959, Comet sold its name to Ford for use on the 1961 Mercury compact. The company had three owners; two of them moved to a newer plant in Arkansas, renaming their company Cotner-Bevington, and the third owner, Jack Pinner, stayed in Mississippi, creating Pinner Coach Company. Pinner moved to a new plant in Victoria, Mississippi, in 1962. According to Nicholas Studer, current owner of the pictured car, the plant burned down in 1971, and the company seems to have died with it.
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