In 1957 Checker introduced the Adaptobile, based on a standard Checker, but with various features and functions that would allow the Checker to be uses as an Ambulance or mini bus. Seats could be removed to allow patient transportation.
According to the brochure, the Adaptobile could serve as a convalescent’s car perfect for nursing homes or hospitals. The brochure states that the Adaptobile can be easily converted into a convalescents car easily and quickly, so easy in fact “even an a women can do it a matter of minutes thanks to the lightness and engineering design of parts”.
Equipped with ramps, the Adaptobile had the capabilities to allow for a wheel chair or stretcher to be loaded and clamped down to the linoleum floors. The ramps weighs only 4 LBS each which explains why women could easily convert the Checker to ambulance mode. As with any Checker, flat floors and extra wide doors enhanced Checker ability to serve patients.
The Checker body was not enhanced in any way but multiple interior configurations set the Adaptobile apart from standard Checkers. The driver sat in a bucket seat. That bucket seat could flip forward to allow for stretcher loading. The rear seat was split in two. Each cushion could be removed for the addition of a table or added head space to allow the patient to lay flat on a stretcher.
The Adaptobile would continue to be produced when the Checker A9/11 replaced the Checker A8 body style, that said the name Adaptobile name was dropped and the new name Cabulance was used in most promotional material. The Cabulance sported all of the same features found in the Adaptobile.
Checker clearly had success with both the Adaptobile and Cabulance so much so the these vehicles were produced for about 15 years. Additionally the success of the ambulets would serve as a standard for the development of the Medicar produced from 1969 and 1970.
For this writer, the bigger question is: did Checker produce similar ambulets prior to the introduction of the Adaptomobile? The answer is not that clear, but there is photographic evidence of test mules and engineering designs.
In the immediate Post War period, Checker Model D developed as a replacement for the Model A. A very unconventional design, It would be a front wheel drive vehicle with a transverse engine mounted forward of the cab. Plans called for a significant number of variations to be produced, including sedans, limos, coupes, convertibles and light trucks. In addition of the planned increase in models, two ambulets were laid out on the design board.
From the Raymond Dietrich library, we have found two proposed Model D vehicles, a Adaptobile and Ambulance. The Model D Adaptobile seems to indicate the same features of the 1957 Adaptomoble, one driver seat and a side lane to allow for a full stretcher.
Also with In Dietrich drawing is a full fledge Ambulance. The drawing portrays a standard Ambulance on an extended wheelbase. The overall appearance is similar to a standard panel truck. Unfortunately the Model D never went into production, however the Model D body design did morph into the 1947 Model A2.
Its not clear whether and Model A2, A4 or A6 were developed into an ambulance. That said, we have found some photographic evidence that ambulance proposal was created. This writer has obtained a photographic negative of a body test.
By body test, to be more clear, a human body test. The photograph depicts a man being inserted into the trunk of an A4. Also interesting is the fact that the body has been altered with a wooden floor. We’ll give the Checker engineers an A for effort, but it does not seem likely that this configuration would ever see the light of day. Inserting a patient into a car via the trunk lid just seems like a bridge too far.
We have also found an interesting advertisement regarding a proposed Checker ambulance based on an A12W6. The advertisements depicts a highly touched up photo of an ambulance built on a A12W6 chassis. The main difference is that the ambulance displays four door, not six. The rear fender is larger than a standard Checker fender, it’s increased length would cover the eliminated fifth and sixth door.
The advertisement was an attempt to see if there was a market for this Ambulance. Claiming “We Could, BUT”, at the bottom of the advertisement there is a mail in coupon to register interest.
Based on the A12W6, five new body stampings would be required: two inner and outer rear fenders, and a roof stamping. Given a larger Checker ambulance was never produced, its pretty clear that not enough interest coupons were mailed to Kalamazoo.
In the big picture Checker never fully established the company as a Ambulance manufacture. Perhaps with different marketing and a little risk the results may have been more impactful
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